Superintendent’s Recommended FY15 Budget

I am pleased to present the FY2015 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget of $40,603,540 representing an increase of $1,902,175 or 4.92%.  You can access the complete budget at this link.  This budget was developed with significant input from district and school administrators, staff, and the school community.  The majority of this rather significant funding increase primarily addresses just two priorities:

  • Aligning pay scales for school employees (including substitute teachers) with comparable school districts in Massachusetts to ensure that we continue to attract, recruit, and retain highly qualified and effective personnel
  • Providing sufficient resources to ensure that our high needs populations are appropriately placed and supported in special education and other specialized programs either within or outside of the district

Funding that remains within the base budget will be used to continue several strategic initiatives that have been and are continuing to be implemented in our schools including:

  • Implementing the Literacy and Mathematics Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks,, Educator Evaluation System, and District Determined and Local Measures of Student Success
  • Addressing the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students through the implementation of the Massachusetts Tiered System of Support

Our base budget also allows us 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.

While the requested funding allows us to address many of the priorities which reflect the community’s desire to continue a long-standing tradition of excellence in our schools, financial constraints limit our ability to pursue many of the innovative programs, structures, and systems that we believe will make our students even more successful.  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 305th out of 327 operating districts in the Commonwealth, based on state data from the 2011-12 school year.  This puts us among the lowest 10% of all districts in the state.  While we continue to be proud of our record of efficiency, we must recognize that innovation and excellence require strategic investments that we have been unable to make over the past several years due to financial constraints.

This budget includes funding to address contractual obligations based on the assumption that salary schedules for all bargaining units must be adjusted to ensure that salary and wages are competitive.  In addition, this budget funds both known and anticipated special education needs, which are rather significant in the year ahead.  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 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, 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 continuing uncertainty regarding the impacts of federal sequestration.  Not included in this budget are funds for extraordinary increases in water and sewer or electricity rates or unanticipated enrollment increases.

As in years past, there are a significant number of important needs that were identified by building administrators, staff, and the school community that were not addressed in this budget in light of fiscal constraints.  These needs are identified below.

Unfunded FY’15 Budget Requests

Identified Need

Budgetary Impact

School adjustment counselors at the elementary and middle levels to providing more counseling to struggling students who need targeted social, emotional, and behavioral supports to succeed

2.0 FTE

$130,000

Tier 2 academic, social and emotional supports at all levels (e.g. general education tutors, staff trained in applied behavior analysis)

3.0 FTE

$60,000

Additional special education staff to address the growing teaching and administrative demands on teachers, the increasing complexity of the needs with which students are presenting, the pervasive and growing proficiency gap between special education and general education students, and the need to provide for more inclusive settings throughout the district

3.0 FTE

$195,000

Additional time for paraeducators to collaborate with teachers, serve as a teacher resource, learn how to modify curriculum and implement accommodations, and take advantage of professional development opportunities (two hours per week for instructional paraeducators)

$115,000

Additional funding for professional development for staff, particularly in the area of behavioral health, tiered systems of support, and effective use of data and technology

$50,000

Instructional coaches to model effective teaching practices for staff and to help implement the new Massachusetts curriculum frameworks particularly in the areas of math and literacy

2.0 FTE

$130,000

Additional time for teachers to collaborate, learn, and grow in their professional practice (to be accomplished through additional funding for substitutes during the school day or time beyond the school day for collaboration)

$30,000

Instructional technology specialist at the elementary level (currently five schools share one full-time specialist)

1.0 FTE

$65,000

Additional technology maintenance staff to service the increased amount of technology employed throughout the district

1.0 FTE

$40,000

Data or information management specialist to assist administrators and teachers in managing, monitoring, reporting, and analyzing all of the educational data available to districts and schools

1.0 FTE

$50,000

Districtwide technology leadership position to lead and manage the day to day operations of our technology and data rich 21st century learning and teaching environment

1.0 FTE

$95,000

Increased funding for technology maintenance and replenishment

$50,000

Additional general maintenance staff for facilities department

1.0 FTE

$50,000

Additional funding to allow for planned painting cycle of 15-20% of classrooms per building per year

$120,000

TOTAL BUDGETARY IMPACT

$1,180,000

If all of the above had been added to the requested FY2015 budget, the increase would have been $3.08 million (a 7.96% increase) rather than the $1.9 million increase proposed.

The FY’15 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget will be presented to the Reading School Committee.  Following their deliberations and vote, the budget is then transmitted to the Town Manager who combines the municipal and school budget into one budget that must be balanced.  All budgets are then reviewed by the Finance Committee of the Town who votes as to whether to refer the budget as is to Town Meeting or refer with changes.  Town Meeting then has final approval authority.  By statute, Town Meeting can only vote the “bottom line” of the School Committee budget.  It may vote to increase or reduce the total dollar value but it cannot specify the line item to which the increase or decrease is to be made.

The timeline for the next steps in the budget development process is summarized below.

FY’15 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget Presentation

January 16, 2014-Overview, Administration

 

FY’15 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget Detail Presentation     

January 21, 2014-Regular Day, Special Education

 

FY’15 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget Detail Presentation     

January 23, 2014-District-wide Programs, School & Town Facilities

 

Public Hearing on the FY’15 School Committee Budget                             

January 27, 2014

 

School Committee Vote on the FY’15 Budget

February 3, 2014

 

FY’15 School Committee Budget Presentation to Finance Committee  

March 12, 2014

 

Annual Town Meeting                                                                       

April 28, May 1, May 5, 2014

All School Committee meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Administration Offices of the Reading Public Schools.  Copies of the budget document are available at the Office of the Superintendent, the Reading Town Library, the main office of each school, and on the Reading Public School’s website at www.reading.k12.ma.us.  For additional information or clarification, please feel free to contact the Central Office Administration for assistance.

Special thanks goes out to Assistant Superintendent Mary DeLai and School Business Assistant Martha Sybert for all of their hard work in developing the budget document.

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