Welcome Message to the Public Hearing from Chair Andrea Downs

Welcome Message to the Public Hearing from Chair Andrea Downs
Posted on 04/07/2017


I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the budget process.  It took on a different approach and focus this year.

This year, the Board decided to put together a committee to prepare the spending plan.  This committee was made up of Jonathan Moore, Bob Whelan, and myself.  We worked with the District and School Administration to prepare the spending plan for the 2017-2018 year.

We decided to take a different approach when looking at the spending lan.  For years when we have tried to carve out a spending plan we looked at it line by line and tried to decide if we needed to budget the same amount of money of if we could find a savings.  Many times this just meant that we found small incremental savings but we did not really understand how this would affect the programming.  This year we took a more global approach to the process and we looked at the spending plan by program.  

What was most important for us was to make sure that every dollar spent would have a direct effect on student programs, learning and outcomes.  We had to balance this with the many state cuts that we have ahead of us.  This was a task made harder than any we had ever encountered before.  We understood that not only was Region 1 going to lose revenue but so was each local school district, compounding our need to make sure that every dollar budgeted would count.  We also understand that although we are one of the luckiest districts in the state, having families and taxpayers that value education, there is a threshold as to how much each community can budget for education.

Early in the process we asked Dr. Martinez to look and see which classes were actually being offered versus the classes  that were listed in the class offerings book.  We also asked him to look at past and current enrollments so that an educated decision could be made about the number of sections that needed to be offered of each program.  In addition to this we looked at what new programs we should be offering moving forward.  Once we had this information, decisions could be made on the number of FTEs that would be needed to fulfill these requirements.

The Board also asked that Dr. Martinez work with the various departments to see where we have an overlap of supplies and services being requested to see if there was an opportunity for savings there.

Mr. Gross was asked to look at his special education programs to see if there was any opportunity for savings there with the changing of students in his program.  It is understood that numbers of students and needs continue to be a moving target in this program creating some challenges.

The RSSC was asked to take a hard look at supplies and programming that would be offered through this office.  The committee asked them to see if there was any duplication of services being offered to schools that could be consolidated for a more efficient use of resources.

This was not an easy process.  We are a district that offers a lot of programming for such a small district.  We will need to continue to look at every program each year to determine if enough students are involved in them to make it worthwhile to offer them or is it time to look at some different programming that holds more value in our changing and more global world.  

And finally, we know that we have a NEASC accreditation coming up.  We did not do well on our last visit and my understanding is that it took us five years to meet all of the requirements put forth by the NEASC group.  We would like to have a more favorable review this time and allow our staff to spend their very valuable time working on Professional Development and programming that is important to them versus filling the gaps found during this process.  We believe that with some work on the front end we can have a favorable review and move forward.  We have the talent and resources to do this.  We believe a little guidance will take us a long way.

Many of you were in attendance on Monday night when a few new expenses were brought to the Board’s attention.  In the last three days the administration has made some changes based on the response by the Board and the public.  I will be presenting these tonight for your consideration.  Thank you for being a part of this very important process.  

‚Äč2017-2018 Proposed Budget v. 4_6_17.pdf