This site aims to inform and mobilize Beverly parents to take an active role in all issues related to the funding and operation of the city's schools. It was launched in the spring of 2008, when the city saw its first-ever override attempt fail, followed by the closure of a nearly-new elementary school. Subsequent years have seen further cuts that have led to larger class sizes across the district. While the opening of an impressive new high school and plans to replace the city's aging middle school give us reason to be optimistic, the school community must be ever vigilant in demanding appropriate school funding by city and state governments, and better community communications from the district and School Committee.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Latest on the FY10 Budget

We have updated the City Documents list on the left with the FY10 draft budgets that have been released so far, including the most recent, which was presented to the School Committee on March 25th.

Below is a letter from Dr. Hayes that is posted on the Adminstration website that explains the status of the budget in more detail:

For those who are interested in the district budget for next year, the latest information has been added to the Administration webpage. Presented to the School Committee on March 25th, the Draft Budget includes the new estimate for local contribution provided to us by Mayor Scanlon. Thus we now show a shortfall. The budget document is done as a spreadsheet, so if you are looking for explanations of specific accounts, you will need to refer to the Initial Draft, presented February 4th.

The budget extracts all the items and expenses related to revolving accounts. These are identified in the Draft with shaded lines and the revolving account titles below the specific account from which expenses were shifted to a revolving account. By doing this for all revolving accounts, the remaining budget only includes those expenses being paid out of the General Fund, i.e., the City's contribution plus Chapter 70. While this arrangement makes it more complicated in understanding our complete program, it is done so that we comply with proper accounting procedures. You may find it helpful to look at the Revolving Account document before looking at the Draft Budget so that you get a better sense of what this means.

Using the same shaded line with "SPED Stimulus Grant" as a title, we have identified $366,000 of expenses which we will cover using the federal Stimulus money provided for Special Education. This appears to be about the limit of what we can cover using Stimulus funds, including SPED and Title I.

In order to bring the shortfall under $1 million, I made several cuts to several Special Education tuition accounts, dropping tuition estimates from 4.5% to 3.0% increases, and dropping the SPED contingency from $270,000 to $170,000. While these cuts add more risk for FY10, we think they are prudent given recent patterns and the circumstances with which we are faced.

I have made no other cuts to the proposal. We still need to learn more from the state legislature. We need to learn more about the use of Stimulus funds and how they still might help us reduce our shortfall. And we need another month before it is realistic to estimate any surplus for FY09. The School Committee meets again to discuss the budget on Wednesday, April 29th.

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