Signed State Budget means extra $4,391,296 for City Schools..how do we use it?

# Student 16,353
Orig 2020 – Found.Budget $208,259,542 – City Requirement $49,626,890 – Chapt. 70 $158,632,652

Final 2020 – Found.Budget $212,748,264 – City Requirement $49,724,317 – Chapt. 70 $163,023,947

2019 Funding # Students 16,184
Found.Budget $198,336,328 – City Requirement $47,400,845 – Chapt. 70 $150,935,483

The Signed State budget provides the School Dept. with over $4,000,000 in additional Chapt. 70 funding from the House Budget we used to create the 2020 Budget.

I’ll be very interested in listening to the new administrations suggestions on how we spend it.

There is no doubt that we need to increase the amount of money we have in the budget for Transportation (both regular and special ed), the out of district placement account and the money set aside for Sick Leave Buyback that we are contractually obligated for. We cut those to the bare essentials knowing we would be getting at least $1,00,000 more in state aid that we could later transfer in and not have to cut anything else.

One of my questions to the new Supt. and the CFO will be should we repay the revolving food service acct fully with this money? It would free up for next year and beyond an additional $500,000 that we can lawfully charge to that account.

It also would give the new administration the opportunity to study the soon to be released District Wide Audit conducted by the state which will highlight areas of need and use that report along with a years experience in the district to best decide how to spend the additional funding.

There is no guarantee that the “Promise Act” will be passed or that the State will increase Chapt. 70 by another $8,000,000 that we received this year over last. Generally unless of a recession, Chapt. 70 stays at least at the same level year to year to start and goes up from there but nothing is guaranteed.

By not “spending” it on specific items that have reoccurring cost or by using it to repay the food service account it gives us a cushion to address issues and items that come up for next year.

It would be easy for me to say we need to re-open Libraries at Elementary and Middle schools, hire more social workers and Psychologist, add at least 1 or 2 staff to the production/television studio and use money to purchase text books, technology and basic supplies (pencils, notebooks, paper) so teachers don’t have too. I’d like us to put $500,000 minimum into a maintenance account and hire people (including city workers in a 2nd shift role) to cut grass, trim hedges, replace ceiling tiles and fix locks. Basic items that need addressing in EVERY School! but we need to be cautious.

We need to understand that the District wide review is coming, that we have an HR review that still needs to be fully addressed and that we have to review the recommendations of Powers and Sullivan regarding the Student Activity accounts.

It will be up to the new Administration to take all of these issues into consideration before allowing us to vote to spend the full amount right away. We need to be fiscally sound and responsible.

There is also the issue of what the increase in NET School spending does to the City. The signed budget increases the city’s financial obligation by approximately $200,000 over the HOUSE budget.

This year (2020) the City’s overall financial obligation increased by $2,323,472 which would mean IF the city had to fund that in Cash would require an approx. 1.25% property Tax increase just to fund the school dept. Fortunately the City can charge “offsets” and this year unless they change their mind will be charging $33,365,116 (67% of Requirement) for “Services” while supplying $16,359,201 (33% of their requirement)in cash.

Yet they still want another $250,000 cash paid to them from the School Department for water/sewage.