Attached below is the FY2016 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget of $41,350,043 representing an increase of $1,032,070 or 2.56%. This base budget follows the Reading Finance Committee’s recommendations of developing a budget that aligns with the available revenue projections of the Community, which are restricted by an annual structural revenue deficit, combined with an inadequate Chapter 70 funding formula and minimal state aid funding increases. Unfortunately, the budget presented results in a reduction of $849,620 from a 4.7% level serviced budget. In order to reach the 2.56% base budget, $849,620 in budget reductions to both personnel and non-personnel areas, combined with offset increases were made. In addition, there are proposed increases in user fees for athletics, extra-curricular activities, and non-mandatory bus transportation. These fees have not increased since 2010.
The base budget attempts to achieve the multi-year goals of our school system, while staying within the fiscal constraints of our available community resources. It also restructures several areas to fund needed positions and services in the areas of learning and teaching and special education. It includes funding to primarily address the following budget drivers:
- All salary and benefit obligations to employees per the collective bargaining agreement
- Non-union salary and benefit increases in line with COLA adjustments for collective bargaining units
- Anticipated increases in special education transportation and known out of district special education tuition increases, along with a decrease in circuit breaker reimbursement due to less students who cost greater than the required threshold of services
- Anticipated increases in natural gas costs when our contract concludes in June, 2015
Not included in this budget are funds for extraordinary increases in water and sewer or electricity rates, unanticipated enrollment increases, or unanticipated special education costs related to out of district placement tuition, transportation, or other services as required by a student’s individualized education plan. 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 Multi- Tiered System of Support
Our base budget also allows us to continue maintaining our low class sizes (18-22) in Kindergarten through Grade 2, our middle school interdisciplinary model, our behavioral health initiatives, our technology infrastructure, all of our regular day programs, and our school facilities.
In order to achieve the above priorities and to continue to move forward our school district towards its mission and vision of Instilling a Joy of Learning and Inspiring the Innovative Leaders of Tomorrow, we have restructured several existing resources in the base budget to fund critical programs and positions. This restructuring of funds would have occurred regardless of next year’s fiscal constraints and include the following:
Figure A: FY16 Budget Restructuring
|Restructured Position/Resource||Restructured Area to Fund Position/Resource|
|Grade 1 Teacher at Joshua Eaton||Kindergarten Class Size Paraeducators at Joshua Eaton|
|K-8 Mathematics Coach||Professional Development|
|K-8 Literacy Coach||Professional Development|
|Technician||School Transformation Grant Savings|
|Technology Replenishment||Per Pupil Building Budgets|
|Program Director for Student Support Program and Therapeutic Support Program||Middle/High School Transition Psychologist|
|Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)||Special Education Consulting|
These above positions and resources are critical to the ongoing improvement of our school district. The Grade 1 Teacher at Joshua Eaton is to address current over-enrolled kindergarten classes which currently have an average class size of 24.5. The K-8 Mathematics and Literacy Coaches are necessary to provide ongoing instructional support in mathematics and literacy as the district continues to transition to full implementation of the Massachusetts Mathematics and Literacy Frameworks. An additional technician is necessary to address the ongoing technology network and hardware learning needs of our district as we increase the use of technology and mobile learning devices in grades K-12. The additional technology replenishment funds brings the district back to pre-FY15 Budget levels and allows us to continue to strive towards a 5 to 6 year technology replacement cycle for student and staff computers. A program director for our K-12 Student Support Program and High School Therapeutic Support program is critical in providing leadership and vertical articulation to a program that addresses the needs of our most emotionally fragile students. Finally, the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) brings in house a person who can provide behavior consultation to our special education programs in a cost effective manner. It should be emphasized that the above restructuring efforts do not increase the FY16 budget.
Budget Reductions/Offset Increases/Fee Increases
In order to reach the base budget recommended by the Finance Committee, the following program reductions, offset increases, fee increases and/or personnel reductions were included in the Superintendent’s FY16 Recommended Budget:
Figure B: FY16 Budget Reductions
|Grant Writing Services||$8,500 Reduction|
|Regular Day Bus Transportation||$23,000 Reduction|
|Substitute Teachers||$137,000 Reduction|
|Per Pupil Building Budgets||$26,000 Reduction|
|Virtual High School Stipends||$18,120 Reduction|
|EMARC Restructuring of Services||$30,000 Reduction|
|Increase METCO Offset||$25,000 Increase in Offset|
|Increase Extended Day Offset||$50,000 Increase in Offset|
|Increase Athletic and Extracurricular User Fee||$60,000 Increase in Offset|
|Increase offsets in special education tuition and RISE to accommodate decrease in circuit breaker||$277,000 Increase in Offset|
|Reduction in Regular Education Paraeducators and Tutor Hours||$135,000 Reduction|
The reduction in Grant Writing services will limit the district’s ability to seek grant funding to help offset the costs of current or future innovative programs that align with goals and vision of our district. The decrease in regular day bus transportation eliminates all non-mandatory bus transportation in Grades K-12. Any additional bus transportation will need to be self-funded by user fees, resulting in an increase in bus user fees for riders. Reduction in substitute teacher funding will require restructuring in the use and pay rate of substitute teachers. The reduction in per pupil funding will affect the amount of educational supplies and curriculum materials that are purchased at the building level. Virtual High School, an online service that provides unique high school courses will be restructured to allow access to students based on course need. In addition, we will be proposing a restructuring of the special educations services that we provide to our 18-22 year old population through EMARC so that the resources are more effectively and efficiently used for our students.
The Superintendent’s FY16 Recommended Budget proposes an increase in athletic and extra-curricular user fees to offset the increased cost of living adjustments in coaches and advisors stipends since 2010, the last time the user fees were increased. In addition, offset increases are proposed in the special education tuition and RISE revolving accounts to offset the decrease in circuit breaker special education funding that we will be receiving in FY15 and using in FY16. We are also proposing an increase in offsets in from the METCO grant back to FY14 levels and the Extended Day Revolving Account to reflect the programmatic changes in these two areas over the last few years.
Unfortunately, in order to reach the Finance Committee budget guidance, personnel reductions will need to be made in the area of our regular education paraeducators. This reduction will have a significant impact at our elementary level in providing support for our teachers, staff and students.
The dates for the FY16 budget presentations are as follows:
- Thursday, January 8 (Overview, Administration)
- Monday, January 12 (Regular Day, Special Education)
- Thursday, January 15 (District Wide Services, Town/School Facilities)
- Wednesday, January 21 (Financial Forum)-7:30 p.m. at Senior Center
- Thursday, January 22 (Public Hearing, Questions)
- Monday, January 26 (School Committee Vote)
All meetings will be held at the Reading Public Schools Administration Offices at 7:00 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Attached below are two documents: the January 8th Budget Presentation for School Committee and the FY16 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget Document.