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Answering the Finance Committee’s Questions….

Following the two joint Finance Committee and School Committee meetings this January, the chair of the Finance Committee, Gene Parini, contacted the chair of the School Committee, Travis Adrade, with additional questions about the School Department’s Capital and Operating Budget.

The answers to the questions were provided by a team that included Dr. Canfield, Superintendent; Michelle Austin, Director of Finance; and Alan Hall, Director of Facilities. Supporting materials are included to view and download.

An article and video of the January meetings are available here:

FinCom – FY 16 School Budget Questions

School Field Maintenance Expenses:

1. Show sports field maintenance costs by school for FY 16 along with the prior 1, 3 and 5 years.

The FY-16 budget year is next year, so we assume you mean this FY-15 budget year.  In the new SoftWrite© financial system shared with the Town Hall, there is one budget line for district-wide grounds maintenance.  Grounds maintenance includes all grounds and not just the fields.  It also includes tree removal, irrigation, field marking materials etc.  Our grounds staff services all schools so the centralized approach is more cost efficient.  Attached you will find information on sports field maintenance (Exhibit A-1). Click on A1-A9 to view and download:  A1 A2  A3  A4 A5 A6 A7 A8 A9 

 Pool:

2a. Show pool maintenance and pool utility costs prior to closure for FY-16 along with the prior 1, 3 and 5 years.

The pool has a new HVAC system, improved lighting and a new gas hot water heater.  The district has no experience with the new systems, but they are more efficient than the 40 year old equipment they replaced.  This information about the mechanicals was presented by BLW Engineering.

The Pool project is not completed, and therefore is not closed.  In prior years the utility costs could only be estimated because the systems were integrated with the entire building.

Future costs will be easier to monitor because the project includes separate metering for the mechanical systems.

2b. Show projected cost and revenue related to public use of the pool including lifeguards, maintenance and supplies.

Proposed Business Plan for revenue and expenses is still being worked on.  The Sandwich Public Schools support the community recreational use of the pool.  However, funding for community recreational use of the pool is not in the PreK-12 school budget.  Pool funding in the PreK-12 school budget only supports PreK-12 school programs.

2.c  Show Pool Director’s salary.

The district employs a licensed and certified Aquatic’s Director.  This is a forty (40) hour, Monday-Friday position that is based on a 261 day (12month) work year.  The salary is $50,000.

 Capital Planning:

3a. Show projected school repairs to buildings and non-buildings, including water treatment plants for FY-16.

There are no projected capital improvement plans outside of what was approved at the February Special Town Meeting in articles 1 & 2 for the completion of Phase 2 of the reorganization plan.  If you look at the town list of Capital project funding for FY-16, you will note that nothing more is included for the schools.  The district’s needs were met through articles 1 & 2.  The district is taking the initiative to develop a Long Range Capital Plan (LRCP) to present to the Capital Improvement Planning Committee.  Once developed, it will be shared as a public document.

3b. Show inventory of all school technology equipment including PCs, laptops, note/net books, smart boards, televisions, etc.

 Attached is the inventory (Exhibit B-1). Also attached is the state mandated Technology Plan for 2010-2015 (Exhibit B-2). Click on B1 & B2 to view and download: B1 B2

Enrollments:

4. Show total student population per school per class. Show enrollment history for FY 16 along with the prior 1, 3 and 5 years.

Attached are the NESDEC Projections for the two prior years (Exhibit C), and our October 1 and enrollment for this FY-15 school year rolled forward for FY-16.  The FY-15 and rollover to FY16 was provided to you at one of the workshops. Click on C1-3 to view and download: C1 C2 C3

Transportation Expenses:

5a. Show number of buses and riders per school for FY 16.

The district’s 4-year contract with First Student expires this school year.  The district will be going out shortly with an RFP to seek bids for a new contract.  This year we began operating a 2-tier system with 23 buses.  The routes for FY-16 are designed as a 3-tier system.  The first tier requires 18 buses, the second tier 20, and the third tier is 15 buses.  The buses are planned for  50 student per bus ridership,  based on national standards for children; their age and size differences.  The total number of buses will be part of the RFP to provide reserve buses to cover breakdowns and needs for athletics and field trips.  Based upon 92% ridership, we have a high confidence level that 20 buses will cover Home to School busing needs.

5b. Show line item budget transfer authorized by the School Committee in the last 45 days of FY 15.

FY-15 is this school year and no transfers have occurred.  We have attached the requested information for last school year FY-14 (Exhibit D). Click on D to view and download: D

Wing School Closure:

6. Please detail the savings for the Wing School

Please see the formula used at the December 4, 2014 SC meeting where the savings were reduced upfront in the budget calculation that we were given by the BoS.  Also included is the decommissioning cost of $244,877 (Exhibit E). Click on E to view and download: E 

Reconfiguration:

7a. What is the total cost of funding NEASC recommendations and what does that cover?

 Enclosed is a complete copy of the NEASC Report (Exhibit F). The high school received an excellent report with 79 Commendations and 32 Recommendations.   The required School Improvement Plan (Exhibit G) is also included.  No costs are included as this work requires some fixed cost such as science lab safety, and softer costs for professional development work.  These costs are included in the budget documents provided at both workshops. Click on F & G to view and download: F G

7b. It is stated that the HR position has been established because it was requested by the town. Will that person be part of the town’s HR team working in the schools or will that person be part of the business office for the schools?

The Human Resources Specialist will be housed in the district business office.   We looked at other models such as Barnstable.  They have one Director, but according to their superintendent, the HR department has 8-people with some serving the schools exclusively and others the town only.   The division of duties makes sense as educators require certification and licensure, as well as CORIs and Fingerprinting that are different than other town office requirements.  There will be enhanced communication between the town and schools, in critical, and potentially where costly errors need to be avoided; such as unemployment, and COBRA entitlements.  This change provides a clear and direct flow of information from one source to the other.

7c. Eight (8) Special Education para-professionals have been cut from the budget.  What is the total cost for these positions?

8 positions at $158,082 total.

7d. What is the number of Special Education students funded for in the FY 15 budget and what is the projected number of Special Education Students in the FY 16 budget?

The current Individual Education Plans (IEP) – for FY-15 service 443 students

In FY16 the anticipated is *411

*This does not include new Preschool students that may enter our district and require Services.

 Staffing:

8a. Please provide FY 16 Staffing Data.

Attached is the list of positions reduced in the FY16 Budget (Exhibit H).  The district will post for some positions for FY16 that will replace other positions that will have a net $0 impact on the budget.  These were discussed in our joint workshop.  For example the 18 new courses at SHS will be taught by teachers who formally taught the 21 old courses that have been dropped from the program of studies.  The cost is net $0.  Additionally, 3 teacher positions were eliminated from SHS. Click on H to view and download: H

8b. Highlight all new employment positions.

The only new position is the Human Resources Specialist that was discussed in the presence of the Finance Committee during the workshops.  You may see some new postings, such as an Engineering Teacher, as our contract with the SEA requires us to post. It will replace a Science teacher at net $0.

The Director of Curriculum position replaces the Language Arts Coordinator.  That Coordinator position will not be filled so there is no increase in FTEs.  There is a differential built into the salary line as it becomes a 12 month position, has PreK-12 rather than PreK-6 responsibility.  The position helps with the overload for teacher evaluations under the new state plan.

New Courses:

9. Will the new high school courses require additions to staff as well as increases to salaries?

No, and no increases to salaries other than those negotiated for all teachers in the new contract.

 Cell Phone Tower:

10. Even though the dollars from the cell phone tower lease agreement are not required to be carried in the proposed budget, it would nevertheless be good to carry that information as an addendum to the budget so that all work done, materials purchased, contracts entered into related to the high school athletic footprint can be reflected in this public budget document. Then, no one can suggest that they haven’t seen all of the numbers.

This funding is based on an article approved at Town Meeting.  We cannot mix articles and/or revolving with the operating budget.  Additionally, these funds will eventually sunset.

School for Early Learning:

11a. Does the SEL report to, and is it still part of, the school district?

The SEL operates under a license granted to them based on their being under the umbrella of the Sandwich Public Schools.

11b. If yes, where are its revenues and expenses reflected on the draft F/Y 16 budget? 

The SEL is a self-funded operation and their revenue and expenses are held in a revolving account established by the town and held at town hall. The information was included as a handout at the workshops.  See (Exhibit I). Click on I to view and download: I

11c. Does it still make a significant net profit?

Yes.  The SEL pays its own costs for salaries,  benefits, facility costs, and classroom equipment and materials.   Recently, they paid to replace the hot water heater at $1800. See (Exhibit I).

11d. If yes, has that net been used for budget relief in this current fiscal year?  

No, the SEL monies cannot be used for general fund budget relief.

11e. Will the SEL be in operation in F/Y 16?

Yes, many of our families depend on it as well as those in our federally mandated integrated preschool.

 Facilities Use:

12a. Does the district charge fees to non-school groups for use of its gyms, classrooms etc. in this current year?

Yes

12b. If yes, where is the revenue from those fees reflected on the F/Y 16 budget?

The accounting was handed out at the budget workshops.  Attached is another copy as (Exhibit I). This is a separate revolving account established by the town for that purpose. The funds cannot be comingled with the regular school budget.

12c. Where are the expenses reflected on the F/Y 16 budget?

Assume you mean FY-15, since FY-16 has not occurred yet.  Again, the revolving accounts are established for a specific purpose and are not included in K-12 operations.  These fees are generated for facilities use by non-K-12-school related activities.  Funds are used to pay the overtime as well as associated costs for police details, etc.  See (Exhibit I).

12d. Will fees be collected in F/Y 16 and if so, what is the projected revenue stream?

 Projections have not been made as revenue depends on external interest in using buildings and grounds…for example, fields are under snow and spring activities will likely be late.  When you look at Exhibit I you will note that the net is not a large number after expenses for custodial, security, and in some cases payments for police detail, etc.

New Contract:

13a. Educators have settled for a 4 year contract with some changes in steps. 

Attached is a copy of the MOAs for the 4-year contract (Exhibit J).  This was a mediated settlement.  The MOAs reflect any changes to the complete contract that expired August 30, 2014.  The complete revised contract is in process of printing. Click on J 1-3 to view and download: J1 J2 J3

13b. Could you details those steps?

The MOA (Exhibit J1 J2 J3) explains the steps as they will be reflected in the printing of the full new contract.

 New Spending Question Added by email request from G. Parini 3/8/15

14. Can we have a list of new spending for FY 16?

The Budget approved by the School Committee hits the number that we were given by the Board of Selectmen on December 4, 2014.  The Cherry Sheet that the BoS and FinCom are working with has the General Government Budget at an increase at 4.25% (Exhibit K).  The School Budget is at negative 1.56%. Click on K to view and download: K

There are 2 components to the budget, and these were presented in detail to you and the School Committee. The first workshop focused on the Salary component and the second workshop focused on Expenses.

To arrive at the number given by the BoS, after the Wing closing reduction was already built into the formula given to us by the BoS, we worked with what is typically referred to as a “turn-key” or rollover budget and proceeded to make $996,628 in reductions to the Salary component of the budget.  Additionally, we reduced $384,407 from the Expense component of the budget.

The goal of the reorganization was to address the naturally declining enrollment as it is occurring in Sandwich and in other Cape communities.  In that process, we have resized the district to operate more efficiently.  That efficiency is reflected in Sandwich having the lowest per-pupil expenditure on the Cape.  I have also included a listing of proposed increases to school budgets to date as solicited by the Old Colony school districts. (Exhibit L). Sandwich is the only district with a negative increase, and yet we have a model program with the STEM Academy, full-day kindergarten  at no cost to families, and we have maintained appropriate class size, athletics, visual and performing arts programs.  In other words, we have made significant reductions through efficiencies and caused no harm to programs for all students.

Relative to new spending, any new spending replaces old spending.  The best example was raised in discussion with the Finance Committee.  We are spending on 18 new courses at SHS that reflects 21st Century learning.  It includes the commitment to extend STEM curricula into the high school, beginning with grade 9.  Engineering courses are expanded, including a medical science strand, and more offerings in computer sciences.  The cost is offset by the elimination of 21 courses that have lost their relevance in the 21st Century. The net impact on the budget is $0.

The truly new spending is for the full day kindergarten at no cost to Sandwich families.  This is funded by the additional cuts that were made and shared with you in the updated budget given to you at the 2nd workshop.