FY17 Preliminary Chapter 70 Aid and Net School Spending Requirements
This is what the State is presently forecasting for the Lowell School System for the 2016/2017 School year.
Lowell # of Student 15,616 – Foundation Budget $183,238,362 – City Min. Contribution $44,649,981 – Chapt.70 $138,588,381
$183,238,362 Total Net School Spending requirement for 2016/2017
Let’s compare that to what was presented and approved in the 2015/2016 Lowell School Dept. Budget
# of Student 15,300 – Foundation Budget – $177,537,954 – City Min. Contribution $43,013,441 – Chapt.70 $135,511,265
$178,524,706 Total Net School Spending requirement for 2015/2016
It appears the Foundation budget will increase by $4,714,256
The “Operating Budget” for the School Dept for the 2015/2026 year reads – personal / non-personal $155,508,389
We know that to “level fund” last year’s budget that School Committee used one time money so the $1,140,273 should be subtracted from the increase just to meet existing cost,leaving a projected remaining increase of $3,513,985.
Using the numbers presented in the 2015/2016 School Dept Budget Book, the UTL Total for Salary (including teachers, Pars’s and Custodians/Security) was $87,126,968
If we ADD 3.9% the supposed raise to this Total since it covers the past two years the total heading into 2016/2017 would be an additional $3,397,952. Bringing the total for UTL Salaries up to $90,524,920 before any raise is given to the Principals, Administrators and District staff. That is also BEFORE any step raises take effect, that alone according to the Supt.. in a Lowell Sun article is around $600,000 If those numbers are correct, it leaves a shortfall before taking into consideration any other added cost.
For instance we know that the Charter School is Opening near the Rourke Bridge. That will cost the school dept. roughly an additional $300,000 – $400,000 in transportation cost , we know there is a money shortfall.
How bad and what has to be cut is the big question.
In the past when the city was not meeting its Net School Spending, any excess or “Free Cash” not used in the 2015/2016 budget could be encumbered by the School Dept. I’m not sure since Lowell is on record has exceeding its Net school spending in 20149/2015 and projected to exceed in this year according to DESE, that the City would be inclined to let them keep anything or they may have agreed on using any excess to pay off the $800,000 in grievance penalties left behind by the last School Committee and administration.
I’m a huge supporter of education and this Administration and City Council has a proven history of also supporting education by exceeding the required NET School spending. I’ve also been advocating for more money for the fire dept, we need more employees who do the repairing of streets and sidewalks and who can work repairing items in the schools and we also know the city has to spend money on modular classrooms.
Lowell is able to part of the Community Eligibility Provision program that allows all students to get a free breakfast and lunch because so many of our families qualify for free or reduced meals. You can’t raise the taxes much more than they have been raised.
In past years the City has gathered the various Dept’s wishes and have started putting together a budget around this time of year. They have also met by now with the School side to look at numbers and get an idea of what the School may be looking for.
However with a new CFO just starting it appears the School Dept. is behind and has not presented anything and I’m told have just started to put things together budget wise for the 2016/2017 school year. How far behind will this CFO and School Dept. be ?
Will this delay cause friction between the School Dept and City side? Would the City attempt to force a number on the schools based on the DESE posted Net School spending projections?
Is there a chance this Supt. will submit to the Lowell School Committee a budget showing a need for $4,000,000 or $5,000,000 more than the Net School spending requirement and make them propose cuts? That idea seems to be floating around the political bubble.
Only one thing is certain – This will be an interesting budget season !