FY2015 Budget Information

Superintendent’s Budget Message
Fiscal Year 2015
School Year 2014-2015

The FY 2015 appropriated budget for the Medford Public Schools is projected to be $51,133,000. This is an increase over FY 2014 of $1,850,000. The overall projected appropriated budget represents a 3.75% increase from last year. Additionally, the final installment of $125,000 from the Mayor’s Account is provided outside the bottom line to complete the purchase of the “Journeys” elementary school literacy program. The budget is buttressed by $1,155,000 of generated revenue which is $10,000 higher than last year. Also various aid allocations and grants from federal, state, non-profit and corporate sources support our overall programs and services. Fundraising by schools, clubs, PTOs and classes augment our financial picture. Our estimates of these supplemental sources are conservative as final decisions in several instances are still being determined.

While every budget is a plan subject to multiple contingencies, the FY 2015 edition is a strong blueprint that can advance both the educational and operational needs and goals of our school system. Despite a less than robust economy we have managed to complete six consecutive years of balanced budgets and to implement a significant capital improvements to our schools that enhance our capacity to provide a fiscally responsible quality education to the students and families who attend our schools. This budget will continue that progress and help us remain in compliance with expanding federal and state mandates. We will also be setting in motion several initiatives that will yield excellent returns going forward in the future.

Please note the following:

1. Enrollments in our schools remain stable and we have the physical space capacity to accommodate our needs. It is still early and there will be additional enrollments over the summer across the board. Current year and projected year enrollment charts by school and level are attached for your review. It is projected that charter school enrollments are down from our district.

2. There was a general salary increase of approximately 2.7% for this year. Movement on steps and tracks is projected to be $660,000 for all groups. With the exception of a few positions all bargaining groups have been settled for FY 2015.

3. There are twenty-nine retirements from our faculty and staff this year which has helped to offset salary increases. However, we did lose $200,000 from the Race To The Top federal grant which completes in FY 2014. Also there are individuals returning from leaves who have higher salaries than their temporary replacements. As our faculty is younger we will have increased maternity and family leaves that must be covered.

4. Medford High and Vocational High will be reviewed this year by the accreditation team from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Funding has been allocated to cover the cost of the NEASC visitation and to complete various repairs and upgrades to our facility in anticipation of the visit.

5. Projected class size is good throughout the district. We expect elementary class size to be even better than last year since there are no apparent “hot” spots at this time. We have a chart included for your review.

6. With the completion of the “Science Lab Project”, faculty for the high school and vocational high school will be returned to their respective class areas with a few modifications. This budget will support greater interaction between the two school entities starting with grade nine next year.

7. The foreign language budget has been increased by two teachers at the high school level to enable these courses to be taught six times in the six-day cycle consistent with other major subjects. It also will enable some ninth and tenth grade student at the vocational school to participate in foreign language. This facilitates the merger of the two school programs and provides new advanced opportunities for vocational students.

8. There is an increase of 1.5 teachers in the English Language Learners Program (ELL). With the growth of this population and the need to meet state standards this increase will enable us to be in full compliance and to better serve students who are not native English speakers. Also the significant regulatory paperwork associated with this program requires that we add a clerical position. We are able to partially offset this cost by reducing an aide position. Furthermore, the RETELL endorsement process is going well as our teachers are working to complete this new requirement. However, it requires substantial monitoring and oversight.

9. The Vocational School is on the move with multiple program initiatives. We have added three new faculty for exploratory programs. They are Business and Marketing, Engineering Robotics and Biotechnology. Our Culinary program will begin to add a “Hospitality” dimension and our Graphics program will add a Design component. In time these will be opportunities to integrate high school students with these and other vocational programs. Also this is part of our initiative to recapture funding that now goes to Minuteman. Additional supplies have been added as well to support this effort. An additional secretary has been added to enable more assistance for the Director and the program.

10. The Special Education budget is lower than last year. We have reduced our overall outside placement and transportation costs while at the same time increasing local services. We have successfully lobbied for the full funding of the Circuit Breaker and have been able to better organize specialized service delivery.

11. The Curtis-Tufts program is funded but it will undergo changes to make it more responsive to our current student population. We will also use that facility to support the partial implementation of the new discipline laws/regulations under Chapter 222. More details to follow on this matter.

12. The new Educator Evaluation System is a complex and time consuming process. An Assistant Elementary Principal is added to assist with this and other related compliance requirements. This means that each elementary building will have its own Assistant Principal as was the intent when the new schools were built. The appointment will come from the current staff to reduce the overall cost to the budget.

13. The Guidance Department will be replacing a retiring counselor. The Naviance System will be added to the vocational school. High school counselors will be relieved of their teaching load and will instead focus on the advisory program. The material previously covered by the guidance staff will be picked up by the health education teachers who will be fully implementing the “Michigan Model” curriculum. This move helps facilitate the 6/6 foreign language adjustment. The pe/health staff will be supervised by the Assistant Principals since we will not be adding a new departmental administrator at this time. We will implement a Head Teacher position to coordinate supplies and schedules.

14. Our Academic Departments will see modest increases in their textbook and supply account to continue refreshing their educational materials. An additional secretary has been added to assist with evaluations and general work.

15. The Athletic Department is fully funded for next year. There is no increase in user fees. This topic will be pursued next year as we seek a more permanent fix for funding this program.

16. The Technology Infrastructure budget has been increased to offset the loss of the special one time funding from last year. This preserves our commitment to maintain our technology capacity and to provide capacity for increased online usage by students, faculty and staff.

17. We have sufficient labs at the high school/vocational to support computer technology and to have “primary” dedicated spaces for various departments. We will be upgrading all XP software to Microsoft 7 to further expand capacity. We are working on some outside budget funding to increase our elementary and middle school capacity. We are in the “hunt” for a new middle school computer and software application grant. We believe that current information is favorable to us receiving the grant. Attached is a listing of computer lab assignment by department at the high school and vocational school.

18. We are working on negotiating a new elementary math program with the publishers. We are looking at a three-year plan. If all goes well we will be able to convert the funding for our current program into the first year’s payment to a substantial degree. Our goal is to significantly reduce the cost of yearly consumables and to get a favorable inservice arrangement.

19. Our Operations and Maintenance budget is funded to support the increase in heat and utilities and includes an additional $50,000 for repairs. This is offset by a substantial reducing of $85,000 from our cleaning contract which came in lower than anticipated last year. There is no reduction in cleaning services. As per contract with the Custodial Association we will be adding an additional staff member.

20. Transportation costs remain stable. We expect revenue back from homeless and from non-resident costs. This is the final year of our contract with Eastern Bus.

21. The human resource/personnel compliance mandates have grown exponentially. In order to stay compliant with these matters we must add an additional secretarial position to the business office. This year alone there was a need to conduct over 2500 CORI checks. We are now required to implement fingerprint checks as well. Ethics compliance, licensure tracking and increased state and federal reporting requires a dedicated position to get the job done in a timely way.

22. Security personnel at each school have been retained in our budget. Their deployment has worked well this year. We have provided personnel with appropriate communication devices to enable rapid response if necessary. Our camera systems are in place. There are approximately 120 cameras district wide. We have recently received a donation of 25 Panasonic high definition cameras to replace units that are not working well. Our contractor, American Alarm, believes that these cameras can be effectively integrated into our system. This will be a summer project.

The FY 2015 budget is a good one overall. We are making very good additions to our programs and services. Every year brings challenges but we are well positioned to deal with them in this budget.

Nevertheless we must be vigilant and not overreact. There will always be more to do than the resources allow at any given time. However this budget is a solid investment in the future of our schools.

The production of this budget is a team effort. The Superintendent is very fortunate to have an excellent team. Central Office Administrators and staff; Principals, Department Directors, and Faculty have all contributed. As you know our Director of Finance and Administration, Ann Giombetti is retiring at the end of this fiscal year. She has been outstanding during her six-year tenure. We will all miss her. We wish her and her family all the best!

The Superintendent also wishes to thank the Mayor and the School Committee for their continuous support and guidance. We have a lot to be proud of and the best is yet to come.

Respectfully Submitted,

Roy E. Belson
Superintendent of Schools

FY 2015 Budget

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