The School Committee held a Committee of the Whole dedicated to budget planning for the 2020/2021 academic year on May 18th. In this meeting, we heard from the following departments:
Buildings and Grounds
Each department 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 general commentary, you could find it here. Generally, departments have been providing a narrative description of the department, which includes critical expenses and answers to the 'Items to Improve Student Outcomes' question.
During this meeting, I made a motion that we hold a meeting to review and prioritize this list of ‘Items to Improve Student Outcomes’. The Committee passed the motion unanimously. As of 6/1/2020, the meeting has not yet been scheduled.
In addition to the same funding requests from last year, the department heads highlighted the following items on their respective 'Items to Improve Student Outcomes'.
Our bus contract is out for renewal at this time. There was one bidder, our current vendor, Eastern Bus.
Medford provides bus service to elementary and middle school students who live more than 1.5 miles from school. At the high school level, we provide a North Medford yellow bus. All other high school students take an MBTA bus or self-transport to and from school. Student bus passes are paid for by families at $35/month.
The new contract year 1 rate reflects a 6.7% increase over the current year. There are also increases in chartered buses that support sports and field trips.
The budget for this department was reduced by $38,000 due to the fact that our camera replacement work in prior years has many more security cameras under a 3-year warranty. This means fewer maintenance costs next year.
No specific asks were made regarding Items to Improve Student Outcomes but, when asked, specialized training, safety enhancements, and camera maintenance were noted. No dollar values were offered but an example was provided. Installing key card access across our buildings to improve security could cost $1 million.
Buildings and Grounds
The budget proposal does not include any new asks.
The ‘Items to Improve Student Outcomes’ include an additional carpenter, dump truck for plowing, and a scrubber for the Columbus Elementary School.
We learned that part of the roof at the high school blew off in a recent storm. The cost to repair the roof is $50,000, but that money is not in the proposed budget. The roof was temporarily repaired.
We learned that the city is creating a master capital plan and that the plan developed last year has been shared. I motioned that no capital plan is shared with the city’s consultant that is not first approved by the School Committee and that the consultant meets with the School Committee. The motion passed unanimously.
Full Schedule of Budget Meetings
Beginning on February 24th, the School Committee started holding 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, MARCH 9TH, 2020 – Elementary Schools. The session was recorded and is available here.
MONDAY, APRIL 6TH, 2020 – Art, Physical Education, Library/Media, Health Services, and Athletics. The session was recorded and is available here.
MONDAY, APRIL 20TH, 2020 – Middle Schools, High School, Vocational Technical Education, and Student Activities/Programs; School Committee, Finance/Business, Districtwide Expenses, and Districtwide The session was recorded and is available here.
MONDAY, MAY 4TH, 2020 – English Learners and Special Education. The session was recorded and is available here.
MONDAY, MAY 18TH, 2020 – Transportation, Security and Building, Grounds and Custodial. The session was recorded and is available here.
Schedule of Upcoming Meetings
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: Pay attention to the budget discussions as it unfolds in the month of June. There are deep cuts being discussed that will be detrimental to our schools. 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.
Jenny Graham is a member of the Medford School Committee. This blog represents her thoughts on issues of interest and does not reflect any official position of the City of Medford or the Medford School Committee. Meeting minutes, which are the public record of all meetings can be found here. Full recordings of meetings of the School Committee can be found here.