Jenny on Budget Meeting #3
We held a Committee of the Whole dedicated to budget planning for the 2020/2021 academic year on March 9th. In this meeting, we heard from our elementary school Principals.
Each Principal provided a narrative description of the critical activities, aggregated staffing, accomplishments, and essential initiatives for the upcoming year. If you missed my update on the plans for this year's budget and some overall commentary, you could find it here.
The principals presented budgets that were generally the same as this current year around items like office supplies, textbooks, staffing, and furniture. Across our buildings, there are lots of things that are slightly different, so I always try to steer clear of comparing. For example, Mr. Johnson noted that in addition to having additional classrooms in specific grades, when you add our EL classrooms to the counts and work to provide inclusion, particularly in specialized subjects like Gym, Art, and Music, it means that those special classes are often quite large. I know this chart doesn't do justice to the complexities of our elementary schools, but I found it a helpful grounding for the discussion.
You'll recall from my last update that I was pretty excited about my motion passing to add this question to all budget narratives: "Identify 3-5 items, initiatives, personnel, or costs that, if prioritized during the budget process, would positively impact student achievement that are in addition to the requested budget presented. List a brief description and estimated cost for each. Think big or small. Nothing is off the table in this section." This question has been shortened to the phrase "Wish List." I felt like it was a bit of a misnomer to call these wishes, but these items do fit quite well in the definition of wish: feel or express a strong desire or hope for something that is not easily attainable. Our elementary school principals asked for the following.
As part of the 'wish' list, all schools asked for:
An additional Chromebook Cart
Continuing access to the Core 5 program from Lexia. This year, the schools are piloting the material for free. The district will need to begin paying for the program next year to continue using it.
Continued access to the EnVisions math platform, which was also requested by the Mathematics department. While the department is in the middle of a plan to pilot a new curriculum, for the next school year, our official curriculum will continue to be EnVisions, and there are costs associated with extending our contract.
Support for our Zaner-Bloser handwriting curriculum with materials and professional development for our K-4 teachers. Funding would allow for an expansion of handwriting work to include grades 3-4 for the first time.
A full FTE math coach and a full FTE Literacy coach for each building
Additional Reading Specialists, while not on the wish list from our principals, but when it came up during the discussions, most of our building leaders said that they would gladly 'take the help.' Given this, in my mind I'm considering an additional reading specialist in each building part of the 'wish' list.
As we discussed some of the more building-specific requests, I found myself building this chart in real-time. Where I am not sure of the number, I simply am putting a question mark for now. I'll update it as I find more info:
Building Specific Asks
An additional special education teacher. Brooks now has five language-based classrooms and has two special education teachers.
An additional .5 Adjustment Counselor
A full-time paraprofessional substitute
An additional .5 Adjustment Counselor
A .6 Adjustment Counselor
Full Schedule of Budget Meetings
Beginning on February 24th, the School Committee will hold budget meetings with every department. The department heads will present a narrative of their department along with their budget requests for the upcoming year. I've also included the recording links in the full list below Here is the schedule:
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24TH, 2020 – Guidance, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, and World Languages The session was recorded and is available here. The budget presentations spilled over into our regularly scheduled School Committee meeting as well which is available here.
MONDAY, MARCH 9TH, 2020 – Elementary Schools. The session was recorded and is available here.
Our March 23rd meeting was canceled while the City of Medford worked to be in a position to hold public meetings. The below schedule is subject to change and will be discussed at our 3/30/2020 meeting.
Original Schedule of Meetings
MONDAY, MARCH 23RD, 2020 – Art, Physical Education, Library/Media, Health Services, and Athletics
MONDAY, APRIL 6TH, 2020 – Middle Schools, High School, Vocational Technical Education, and Student Activities/Programs
MONDAY, APRIL 13TH, 2020 – English Learners and Special Education
MONDAY, MAY 4TH, 2020 – School Committee, Finance/Business, Districtwide Expenses, and Districtwide
MONDAY, MAY 18TH, 2020 – Transportation, Security and Building, Grounds and Custodial
MONDAY, JUNE 1ST, 2020 – Reserved if an additional meeting is needed
MONDAY, JUNE 15TH, 2020 – Budget Hearing Presentation at last School Committee Meeting of the school year.
Your call to action: If you are finding yourself running out of binge-worthy television, might I suggest tuning in to one of our past meetings? To say the current state of the world is unprecedented is an understatement. How our budgets will be impacted is unknown (at least to me) at this time. Watching these meetings may provide some helpful background as we move forward through these uncharted waters. I am not holding traditional office hours right now, but I'm here and just a phone call away. Please reach out if you'd like to meet. Please also share this blog with friends and neighbors who want to be informed about our schools. Subscribing to the newsletter will ensure you receive these updates as I post them.