Saturday, February 19, 2011

2/17 BOE Finance Committee Meeting Summary (Exra-Curricular Costs)

The finance committee followed up on last week's meeting to finish reviewing costs, and possible cost reductions, associated with extra-curricular activities. The background here is that the finance committee is looking for areas of reduction in the budget in anticipation of a worst-case scenario budget reduction of $2M.

We were presented with updated CHS and Dodd athletic budget reports and fee options. The reports break out the actual cost by activity and include scenarios for a Tiered and Fixed fee for each activity.

Extra-curricular cost summary:
High School Activities                                            $670,000
High School Music                                                 $107,000
  (Band, Color Guard, Orchestra, Chorus, etc.) 
Middle School Athletics                                         $108,000
High School Clubs/Organizations                        $   80,000 
Total                                                                         $965,000

John Kuhner presented the finance committee with a report from the CHS Band Parents Association that details the amount of money that the association contributes to the music programs above and beyond what's covered in the budget. (thank you John). The BPA currently contributes $94,000 towards these programs through donations, fees, auctions, etc. Also, in additon to the participation fee, band participants pay an additonal fee up to $500 each.

The current participation fee is $100 and is used to offset the costs listed above. The fee is charged for participants in middle school and high school athletics and for participants in the HS marching band and color guard. The fee generates approximately $100K.

Option: Elimination of Program*:
High School Athletics:  $670,000 less current fee $70,000 = $600,000
Middle School Athletics: $108,000 less current fee $20,000 = $88,000
Marching Band Color Guard: $65,000 less current fee $10,000 = $55,000
High School Clubs/Activities: $80,000 no fee = $80,000
Other Music Programs $42,000 no fee = $42,000

* This option represents a significant reduction in programs.

Additional Options Discussed:
  1. Increase the Fee under the existing structure. Incrementally, every $100 added to the fee would generate $100,000.
  2. Extend the fee to all programs not current covered by the fee. This would be difficult because of the range, scope and cost of the variety of clubs/activities not covered by the current fee.
  3. Create a club & activity fee for each student involved in any extracurricular (non-athletic/music) of $25 per club activity.
  4. Create a full pay to play model based on the actual cost of the sport of activity.
  5. Develop a tiered system for the fees based on the relative cost of the program.
CHS Athletic Budget - Cost Breakdown / Tiered / Fixed Fee Analysis

Dodd Middle School Athletic Budget - Cost Breakdown / Tiered / Fixed Fee Analysis

Dodd Middle School - Elimination of Youth Program Sports Analysis

Fee Options for Reducing Expenditures or Increasing Fee Revenue

After being presented with these options/analysis the finance committee wrapped up the discussion on these costs. No motion was made at this time. Depending on the reduction to the budget, we may see a significant fee increase and/or elimination of program.

The BOE Finance committee is holding a workshop meeting 7:30am 2/24 in the Humiston Board Room. This is a working meeting between the committee and administration to study physical space capacity at our elementary schools. Other topics to be discussed throughout the course of the finance committee meetings are:
  • Cost Savings, or excess costs, associated with closing Darcey and moving the K classes to the other elementary schools.
  • Feasibility of phasing out grade levels from Chapman to the other elementary schools.
  • Feasibility in consolidating our maintenance department with the town's maintenance dept.
  • Elective course costs/enrollment at CHS.
  • Parking fee at CHS
More details will be posted as it becomes available.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tonight's 2/17/2011 BOE Meeting(s) Agenda(s)

2/17/2011 BOE Finance Committee
6:30pm TC Chambers
Agenda/Topic:  Participation Fee Options/Costs

7:30pm BOE Business Meeting
TC Chambers

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Budget Cartoon Video

I decided to take down the budget cartoon. Some of the bloggers here have contacted me to let me know about their discontent with the cartoon. And as the title of the blog reads "Tony Perugini Listens" I've listened and I hear you loud and clear on this one.

My intent for posting the cartoon was to make light some of the absurd arguments being made regarding the budget increase. It was certainly not meant to be inflamatory by any means. And it certainly was not meant to disrespect our teachers or elected officials.

Please accept my apologies if this cartoon has offended you. That was certainly not my intent. Those of you that know me and/or have spoken with me know that I try to be fair and give everyone an equal voice here on this blog. As such, I've reopened commentary on this topic. Posting policies still apply and I will take down comments that are derogatory in nature and/or violate Blogger posting policies.

I'm not going to bury this issue/post or try to hide from it. As such, I'm leaving this topic and commentary open for input from our bloggers.

Original Post:

This was emailed to me today and I thought I'd share it here. It's a cartoon about the 5% budget increase. Not sure if it's about Cheshire. My intention is to not disparage either the teacher's union, TC or anyone else for that matter. But I think it does summarize a few of the arguments, out of many, being heard around Cheshire and on this blog. Some statements are obviously absurd, others aren't but you be the judge. This video can be found on YouTube:

Malloy's 2011-2013 Education Budget Details

I received an email from CABE today containing the governor's budget (proposed) details for education. It appears that Malloy want to continue funding ECS at current levels and plug the 14.6% gap with state funding (read: increasing taxes). Though many of the points below lack detail...I particularly find the last point interesting but doubt he'll be able to pull it off with the teacher's unions.

While keeping ECS at current levels seems like good news, there's bad news for Cheshire *. As I reported in the "Trainwrecks" topic, and ECS committee has been re-formulating the ECS formula to shift funding away from wealthy towns (i.e. Cheshire) to "priority" school districts. It appears we'll know the new ECS formula come October.

Town by Town Numbers can be found here. See E15-44.

Governor Releases 2011-13 Budget
Supporting Public Education

ECS Education Cost Sharing – Maintain the 2010-11 grant level for 2011-13 by filling the 14.6% gap with state funding. * Create a committee to report by October, 2011 on a new funding formula.

Special education excess cost – Maintain at 2010-11funding level

Transportation – 10% reduction of 2010-11 appropriation

School construction – Reduce the reimbursement rate for new construction to 15-65%, and to 80% for magnet schools. Maintain reimbursement rates for renovation projects.

Open Choice$14. 5 million$19.8 million$22.1 million
Magnet Schools$174.1 million$215.9 million$235.6 million
Priority Districts$117.2 million$112.6 million$112.1 million

$5.7 million over 2 years for early childhood to leverage private funding

Minimum budget requirement (MBR) - for FY 2011-12 and FY 2012-13, require that a town’s budgeted appropriation for education is at least equal to the appropriation for education in FY 2010-11 plus the funding the district received through State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. (This does not include the federal education jobs funding appropriated last August)

$2 million for student longitudinal data and teacher accountability.  

The Governor proposed transferring over a 4 year period the operation of the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) over a four year period to be operated by the districts in which the schools are located or by the Regional Education Service Center (RESC) that serves the area. A new Technical High School Grant will be provided to districts and/or RESCs for the operation of such schools. 

The Governor also proposed tenure modifications to give local districts flexibility to retain new talented, teachers (Further details are not yet available)

Monday, February 14, 2011

On a lighter note, Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Being a chef, I get to cook many different dishes but I particularly love valentine's day as I get to cook special meals for my family. I find cooking very therapeudic if not...fattening.  :-)  I made this dessert today, it's a red velvet-chocolate mousse-red velvet layer cake with choc ganache...surrounded by vanilla cream and raspberry sauce hearts. Topped with candied orange peel.

This is my gift to my family today for putting up and supporting me while on the BOE.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2/10 Cheshire Herald Editorial - "District Needs to Plan Ahead"

I think today's editorial in the Cheshire Herald was well written. I agree with it and I believe valid points were made. Considering the "Train Wrecks" heading toward us (which I posted seperately), Race to the Top, the horrible economy, and the state deficit (to name a few) are also causes for concern. But these influences, and others, are forcing school districts to evolve or, as Alan Sobol states "re-invent" themselves. And I agree with Alan Sobol, to a certain extent, that the Cheshire school district needs to re-invent itself if we're going to continue to be competitive, be a leader in education, without breaking the backs of taxpayers.

Some have spun the BOE's decision to not reduce the superintendent's budget as a means to pass the buck on to the town council. Many, however, have realized something rather important about the decision...this BOE could not easily determine (or some didn't want to) areas of reduction. It's tight and as I mentioned previously...we're now at a point with reductions wherby they have to be well thought out and....precise. Yes, it's that serious. But...annual reductions...hoping for the best...maintaining status not a feasible strategy. While the BOE finance committee is working on identifying specific reductions over the next few months...what about next year? Or the year after? Or perhaps this summer if ECS funding goes to pot? The "strategy" is not necessarily a financial one but the annual process of reductions is a reactionary strategy, at best.

2/10/2011 Cheshire Herald Editorial
(Copied with permission)
District Needs To Plan Ahead
Superintendent of schools Dr. Greg Florio has preached a “multiyear” view when it comes to reviewing his 5.09 percent budget increase request. Yes, the increase is large, but Florio insists that such a large commitment would allow the school district to maintain current staff and programs levels, and would require much smaller increases in the future as enrollment goes down and the teachers union contract expires.

But, is it safe to assume that things will stay status quo for the next several years, and that Florio and the Board of education will not be back looking to make up shortfalls in order to stave off deep cuts in the future?

Florio has acknowledged numerous times that federal aid that has helped prop up the school district's budget disappears this year. it is hard to imagine that a congress, voted into office on the promise to cut government spending dramatically, would be inclined to hand out large “stimulus” checks anytime soon.

Also, state aid is all but guaranteed to drop as lawmakers in hartford grapple with a mindboggling deficit that runs into the billions. and, perhaps most ominously for the town, rumblings have been getting louder and louder that the way in which the state allocates money through the educational cost sharing (ecs) program is about to change. there is a significant push to begin funneling more ecs money to lower-income areas of the state, like Waterbury or Meriden, and away from “wealthy” communities like cheshire. there is also talk of changing the ecs formula in a way that would prevent cheshire, and similar communities, from receiving more money because of the presence of the correctional institutions in town. all of it adds up to less state money for cheshire and more financial burdens for local residents.

Even if the cheshire town council were to pass Florio's budget, and allocate an extra $3 million in spending for the schools this budget year, it is highly likely that the BOe will be back in the same spot next year and the year after, asking for a sizeable increase in spending to hold off deep cuts in staff and programs.

At the most recent Board of education meeting, republican alan sobol, the lone member to vote against approving Florio's budget untouched, expressed his disappointment that the district hadn't taken the opportunity to “re-invent” itself. sobol predicted that public education is going to change, that all districts are going to have to find a way to teach students with less staff, and that cheshire should be out in front of what he sees as a certain future, rather than simply reacting to the current situation.

The fact is that sobol is probably correct: the public education genie isn't going back into the box. it is highly likely that changes at both the state and federal level are going to mean a permanent decrease in the amount of money cheshire receives from outside sources, and it will be impossible to ask the residents to continue to make up the difference.

Instead of lamenting this possibility, or operating under the assumption that 2011/2012 will present that last great hurdle for public education funding, the Board and school administrators should be devising ways to handle the new realities and be ahead of the curve.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2/10 BOE Finance Meeting - Student Activity Costs/Reports

This will be the the first in a series of meetings to examine the options that the BOE may have to consider in finalizing a budget for 2011-2012. Thursday night's meeting will be held at 7:300pm in the Humiston Board room. Based upon my experience on this BOE, the finance committee typically stopped meeting once a budget was approved by the BOE until the end of the school year. However, considering the breadth and depth of reductions the BOE is facing, I believe that the Finance Committee must continue working with the administration to look at possible areas of reduction within the BOE budget and be prepared for a worst-case scenario.

Thursday's meeting will focus on Student Activities, namely costs for activities, athletics and the band. Some BOE finance committee members have discussed raising the participation fee, implementing a graduated/stepped activity fee and/or instituting a full pay-to-play fee to help cover the costs of running/supporting these activities.

Reports (click to enlarge):
CHS Athletic Budget:

 CHS Stipends:

CHS Clubs & Activities:
CHS Marching Band, Color Guard & Winter Guard Costs:

Many folks have asked about the costs associated with various programs/activities/sports at CHS. I'm making these reports available for questions/review. I'm awaiting reports on revenue that is generated by some of our sports programs.

Tony Perugini

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Part IV BOE Revenue - BOE Revenue, Grants and ECS & "Train Wrecks"

There have been many comments on this blog about revenue, mostly on the town-side of the funding equation, when it comes to how much money the town is spending on education. However, there's also BOE revenue factored into the budgets.

Below are two revenue spreadsheets contained in the 2011-2012 BOE Budget proposal. Approximately $13,082,520 is being estimated as revenue in this budget request some of which, such as the Federal Teacher Stimulus is already factored into the budget.

The first spreadsheet is a Revenue Summary Sheet showing the various sources of estimated revenue contained in the budget (it does not show revenue from student activity fees/parking fees, that will be forthcoming soon in another topic). Click images to enlarge:

The second spreadsheet is a breakdown of the specific grant revenue contained within the budget:

The First Train Wreck (ECS Underfunding): Regarding ECS funding which accounts for $9.3M of the revenue, CT has been using Federal Stimulus money between 2009 - 2011 to fund 14% of it's obligation to the Education Cost Sharing grant to municipalities. This Federal funding expires in July.

Should CT not be able to replenish this 14% shortfall, it means Cheshire will lose approximately $1.4M in funding for education. This is the other "train wreck" in the making that may hit us very soon.

The Second Train Wreck (Teacher Stimulus Gone): The $540K Federal Teacher Stimulus is a one-time grant and will be used up in 2011-2012 budget.

The Third Train Wreck (ECS Formula Change): Even with grants/revenue Cheshire taxpayers are paying for the lion's share of education. Without these grants, it could be a lot worse. Considering that CT Dept. of Education is re-defining the ECS formula, Cheshire will be receiving less ECS grant money. Already, the committee on ECS is proposing to change the formula to shift more ECS grant money away from "wealthy towns" such as Cheshire to less-wealthy cities such as Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury for example. However, the tax burden will not be lessened on Cheshire.