January 16th Budget Meeting Update

Budget Meeting Update
Hi All. Last night there was a 3.5 hour budget meeting at Hunt Middle School. Mr. Obeng and Mr. Lavery presented options for how we can move forward with new initiatives that have been presented at previous board meetings and keeping our tax increase at a palatable level, keeping in mind that the increase really comes from the state and the common level of appraisal decline.
The overall philosophy of the district is this: Maintain class sizes in line with Agency of Education best practices and standards; increase social and emotional supports; preserve special education supports; preserve EL supports; maintain multilingual liaison staff (we’re losing federal funding for this); continue and increase efforts to target the achievement gap; and continue districtwide restorative practices.
Mr. Obeng and Mr. Lavery then went through proposed eliminations by category. I’ll outline them here.
Central Office: Proposed Eliminations
  • Senior Director of IT
  • Painter
  • Grounds Foreman
  • Principal Substitute
  • Additional operational budget restructuring
High School: Proposed Eliminations
  • 1.0 FTE Business class
  • 1.0 FTE PE (reduces from 4 to 3 teachers)
  • 1.0 FTE at Burlington Technical College
  • Golf and Alpine Skiing
SAVINGS: $197,000
No Middle School Eliminations
Elementary School: Proposed Eliminations
3 FTE positions to be distributed as follows:
  • 1 FTE at Flynn for 2nd grade (2 teachers can serve the 44 incoming students, this would put the ration at 22 students in each class, the AOE maximum)
  • 1 FTE at SA for 1st and 2nd grade (reducing teachers from 4 to 3; 3 teachers serving 60 students)
  • 1 FTE at Smith for 5th grade (3 to 2 teachers; 2 teachers for 46 students. The AOE max for this grade level is 25 per class)
Interventionists: Proposed Eliminations
We currently have 12.0 FTE on staff districtwide. The proposal is to eliminate half, or 6.0 FTE, of these interventionists. The argument is that these interventionists are not being used well and we could make use of 6 more effectively than we do the 12 now.
Total cuts: $1,367,000
As for the new initiatives that have been put forward in previous meetings, nothing was cut from those, but other funding sources have been identified for some pieces and one item was reduced from a 1.0FTE to a .5 FTE. The new amount for total new initiatives is $852,000.
Needless to say, there was an enormous amount of concern by the board about the elementary school teacher cuts and a great deal of discussion about the interventionists.
In addition, we learned that the City has only approved $46K in additional funding out of money that was originally PILOT funds (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) that we used to receive until FY16 when the state said it violated Act 68- approximately $1.4M. The board had asked for an additional $275K in additional support for after school program funding, something that is already approved by the Agency of Education and the city already supports in the amount of $200K through such funds. They city denied this request thereby not helping our district in a difficult budget cycle or helping us strengthen an already struggling after school program.
It was loosely agreed (though no formal vote was taken) that the district will use FY17 surplus funds that total slightly over $1M, to help alleviate the tax burden. This will hopefully result in a reduction of about 2% in tax increase depending on where the final budget lands.
Two more meetings are scheduled for the budget: Monday, January 22nd and Tuesday, January 23rd. Times and locations TBD. The final budget has to be sent to the city for inclusion on the ballot January 24th.
Please reach out with any questions or concerns. You can download last night’s full presentation (PDF).