I am pleased to present to you the FY2014 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget of $38,811,366 representing an increase of $1,758,079 or 4.74%. The entire budget document is located on our district Edline page or at the link below.
This budget was developed with significant input from district and school administrators, staff, and the school community. A special thanks goes to Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Administration Mary DeLai and School Business Assistant Martha Sybert for their efforts in putting together this outstanding explanation of our school district, how the funding is spent in our schools, and the outcomes as a result of that funding.
The funding requested will be used to address and support the following strategic initiatives and priorities:
- Implementation of our teaching and learning initiatives, which include the Massachusetts Common Core State Standards, the new state Educator Evaluation System, and District Determined and Local Measures of Student Success
- Addressing the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students using the Massachusetts Tiered System of Support
- Continued support for the implementation of High School Best Practices
- Providing increased opportunity for planning and collaboration time for staff
In addition, requested funding will be used to continue maintaining our low class sizes (18-22) in Kindergarten through Grade 2 where possible, our middle school interdisciplinary model, our 21st Century learning initiatives including use of mobile learning devices, our behavioral health initiatives, our technology infrastructure, all of our regular day programs, and our school facilities.
These priorities and objectives reflect the community’s desire to continue a long-standing tradition of excellence and innovation in our schools while recognizing the continuing economic challenges. Our school district is one of the most efficient districts in the Commonwealth when it comes to spending. Our academic achievement ranks in the top quartile of the state while our per pupil spending ranks 293rd out of 329 operating districts, among the lowest 10% of all districts in the state. While we are proud of our record of efficiency, we must recognize that innovation and excellence require strategic investments for which funding has been limited over the past several years.
This budget fully funds all collective bargaining contractual obligations, known and anticipated special education needs, and enrollment shifts, most notably at the High School where the incoming freshman class is the largest in nearly twenty years. This budget also includes the continued funding of a five to six year technology replenishment cycle adopted in Fiscal Year 2013, and investments necessary for effective implementation of the Common Core Standards, Educator Evaluation, and the Tiered System of Student Support. We also continue our increased reliance on district revenue offsets while maintaining conservative assumptions regarding state and federal grant revenues in light of the potential impacts of federal sequestration. Not included in this budget are funds for unanticipated Special Education out of district placements, extraordinary increases in water and sewer or electricity rates, or unanticipated enrollment increases.
There are a number of key strategic investments that were identified by building administrators, staff, and the school community that were not included in this budget in light of fiscal constraints.
- Additional technology integration staff at the elementary school where, currently, all five elementary schools share one technology integration specialist
- Instructional coaches for English Language Arts and Mathematics to provide critical support to teachers around instructional strategies for our K-8 staff
- Additional time for paraprofessionals to collaborate with teachers, serve as a resource to teachers, and take advantage of professional development opportunities
- Middle School behavioral health supports to provide more opportunities for students to receive school-based counseling and other behavioral health services
- Additional psychological testing staff particularly to support the secondary level
- Additional high school learning center teacher
- New cutting-edge instructional technologies (interactive projectors, Apple TV, mobile devices, etc.)
The minimal amount needed to fund these additional items would have been on the order of $500,000. The areas of particular concern that were not addressed in this budget are the behavioral health supports at the middle school level and additional special education supports at the high school level. These areas will continue to be monitored and, if necessary, resources may be re-allocated in the future to address challenges as they arise.
The FY2014 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget document reflects our organizations commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. In that vein, this document reflects in large measure the standards of the Association of School Business Officials International’s Meritorious Budget. We continue our efforts to enhance the transparency of our budget, to incorporate measures of performance for improved accountability, and to assist the taxpayers of Reading in understanding how the dollars invested in Reading Public Schools are allocated and utilized to educate the youth of this community.
The FY2014 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget is $38,811,366, an increase of $1,758,079 or 4.7%. The discussion below provides details on the major budget drivers based on expenditure category. The four major drivers of the increase to the FY’14 budget include:
- The need for additional staffing at the High School due to a multiyear trend of increasing enrollment capped by one of the largest 9th grade classes entering in 2013-14;
- A significant investment in curriculum materials as well as planning, development, and training time required for the implementation of the Common Core of State Standards;
- A significant increase in special education out of district tuition due to several high cost placements and a reduction in the circuit breaker reimbursement amount;
- The funding of all contractual step and cost of living increases contained in collective bargaining agreements.
The next step in the process will be for the School Committee to review each of the areas (or cost centers) of the Superintendent’s Recommended Budget. The dates of the School Committee meetings are as follows:
January 10-Budget Overview and Administration Cost Center
January 14-Regular Day and Special Education
January 17-Athletics, Extra-curricular, Health Services, District Technology, Town and School Facilities
January 24-Public Hearing and Additional Questions
January 29-Final Vote
All meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices.