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Q+A About the FY16 Budget

The members of the Forestdale Reorganization Planning Team have submitted questions about many of the details of the reorganization of the elementary Schools, as well as about the FY16 Budget that supports the reorganization.   We are publishing three Q+A articles generated from the RPT’s questions: this one about the budget; one about the renovation plans; and one about the Wing School closure.

Q: Where is the 1.56% cost savings from the Y’15 budget to the Y’16 budget coming from? FinComm reports $790K in new spending – where is the $1M savings?

  • The school district budget has hit the target requested by the Board of Selectmen at the Town Charter mandated meeting of December 4, 2014. The formula for the goal was explained in detail at that meeting.  At the target, which already has  the projected reduction of $700,000 to $1,000,000 built in, the district is at a negative 1.56 budget, thus allowing the town to rise to 4.25% to address other town government needs. You can watch a 3 minute video clip of the Board of Selectmen meeting here.
  • The “new spending” is based on a reallocation of funds. For example the 18 new courses at SHS with their expense is offset by the reduction of 21 classes and their expense.  It is a “contemporizing” of the program.  Again, the savings was already factored into the direction given by the Board of Selectmen.

Q: What efficiencies will we see as financial savings from the reconfiguration (other than the number of teachers and their salaries)? Are these efficiencies already being realized in the School Budget?

  • The budget drafts are posted on the district website. You will note that savings are not just from salaries, but from expenses.
  • The efficiencies allow the district to meet the budget goal set by the BoS, and following the theme of “Funding What We Value,” the budget includes full day kindergarten with no fee to those families. It also includes enhanced intervention services at Forestdale based on the assignment of certified and highly qualified interventionists.
  • The budget includes enhanced offerings at Oak Ridge that includes Health instruction, Graphic Arts, and a “21st Century Skills” special. These offerings provide a great lead-up to the STEM Academy.  The positions are required to meet the need for specials in the larger school.
  • The budget as it currently stands allows the district to maintain all programs at the STEM Academy, and SHS. It maintains K-6 programs and provides very good class sizes PreK-6.  There are also no reductions to sports, arts, technology, or club offerings in this current budget.

Q: There seems to be large increases in sections of the budget from last year to this year- ie- Administrative Expenses, Athletic Salaries, etc. Can you explain these?

Here is a video clip from the January 14, 2015 School Committee and Finance Committee Budget Workshop with Neil Murphy, Athletic Administrator, and Michelle Austin, Director of Finance, explaining the budget entry for coaches.

@78:36 – Athletic Budget – Neil Murphy, Athletic Administrator

  • Decrease in expenses for STEM Athletic Equipment
  • Increase in SHS Athletic Expenses
  • Coaching expenses
  • Questions regarding Gate Receipts

Here is a video clip from the January 7, 2015 School Committee and Finance Committee Budget Workshop with Dr. Canfield and Michelle Austin explaining Salaries @ 48:47.