Budget Night

Tonight the SCS will approve a high level budget to send to the county commission for consideration as part of the county budget planning process for next fiscal year. Once this draft high level budget is approved, the administration will begin working on the details which means we may see more tweaks here and there to better fund our priorities before a final budget vote at the end of April.

As for me, I have had the chance to digest to new budget numbers, listen to community feedback, listen to the administration feedback, and last night I heard from a tremendous group of principals. The principals meeting was the most important meeting I have had to understand what the true impact is at the school level.

I am happy to say that out of all of the feedback I have received, this was the most beneficial to me and most of my opinions were driven by the feedback from this group. Here is a recap:

1) We are already killing ourselves to implement the state standards and the inordinate amount of extra work sent don from the district. Many of us are working 50-60-70 hours a week. We are taking work home and doing tons of paper work. And this is at our current staffing levels. You will see a significant drop in service levels if you begin removing AP’s and counselors from our schools.

2) The nurse formula is unacceptable as it could place the principal and/or teachers at unnecessary legal risk. Safety of our students should be number one priority.

3) It will hurt to lose some ed assistants and clerks, however, loss of some positions can be dealt with.

4) If we are going to invest resources, they need to be at the school level and less in the district administration.

5) Principals are really excited about implementation of TEI and hiring by mutual consent which means seniority will a thing of the past. Hiring and retention will be based upon performance.

So after much deliberation and understanding that not everything is a zero sum game, I am willing to compromise on the budget since we may get more now as opposed to waiting until we force cuts and then not have a say.

This will be my proposal tonight..

1) Restore the current AP and Counselor formulas for elementary and middle. The AP formulas for high schools would change little for the big schools but a little more in the small high schools.

2) Restore the current nursing formula

3) Accept the new gen ed ratios for high school(2 per class)  and middle school(2 per class)l. Utilize the MCS formula for the elementary students which only increases size by one student per class but saves 4 million dollars. This will help off-set half of cost to restore AP and counselor positions.

4) Accept the reductions in Gen ED EA’s and Clerks..

5) Commit to level up salaries over the next 3 years but not front-ending the 11 million dollars Year 1. This will be re-evaluated next year after we see or fiscal condition and how the new BEP formula from Nashville impacts our bottom line.

6) Reduce the investment to OPEB to either 0 or a nominal amount and reassess next year. We don’t have the money to front end this year..

7) Pre-K funding has been moved to federal funds for existing pre-k and will not be expanded next year.

8) Settling on the funds owed from Memphis help fund our OPEB liability to keep from having to pay out of general funds.

9) Outsource custodial/busses

Once we begin in-depth budget deliberations next month:

1) Eliminate more district staffing functions and invest back to ED assistants and/or expand AP’s

2) Look at the possibilities of transitioning Title I facilitator’s to Title One AP’s to help expand administrative capability in the Title One schools.

This will bring our budget gap down to around 50 million dollars. Which can be closed by a combination of Shelby county tax increase (around .30), increased state tax dollars, settlement on Memphis funds, and funding from fund balance.

This is very doable and come at a compromise but helps the school maintain current level of service. It is the best I have for us to get as close as we have today.

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