Layoffs, cuts, higher sports fees, pre-school fees proposed to address $4.3M budget gap
Last Wednesday’s Dudley-Charlton Regional School Committee meeting (March 14) began with Superintendent Sean Gilrein report that the French River Education Center’s offering of Chinese Mandarin courses would count for students’ high school credits. He also noted that the Shepherd Hill cheerleaders had won the Division I State Championship last weekend.
John Polumbo and Stan Kulas, auditors for FY 2012, were next on the agenda. Mr. Polumbo spoke about the School District’s financial statements, federal grants, and overall observations. He likened the school budget to running a business and also indicated that the schools are just getting by with existing reserves and that the school committee must be judicious in its expenditures.
Mr. Polumbo touched on health insurance costs, stating that the district was basically self-insured with stop-loss provisions, having had several very large health insurance claims.
Mr. Kulas then advised the committee that the district had received $2.8 million in federal grants, but that several were in process of being eliminated.
The audit team then pointed to observations on audit procedures, noting that strides had been made in checking account reconciliation regarding payroll, the disaster-recovery plan now has a written report, authorization expenditures were in fine shape, and great progress was being made in regards to older outstanding checks.
Discussion was then held regarding a fee increases for athletics and the school lunch program based upon the current economics and anticipated loss of Federal and State funding for FY 2013. Mr. Gilrein recommended a $50 increase per sport fee with a new total of $150 cap per individual and a family cap of $500.
The pre-school fee recommendation was proposed to be $800 for two half-days, a $200 increase. It was brought up that with Commerce Insurance’s pre-school program closing later this year, there may be an opportunity to increase the Dudley pre-school enrollment.
It was also noted that the district’s school lunch program lost $37,000 last year on $1.2million in sales due to increased food costs. Mr. Trifone, finance director, anticipated a $50,000 loss this year. To close the projected deficit Mr. Trifone requested that the committee vote to increase the cost of student lunches from $2.05 to $2.25 and adult lunches from $3.75 to $4.00 effective with the 2012-13 school year. The Committee voted unanimously for the lunch fee increase.
Fiscal Year 2013 budget numbers were then reviewed and discussed with the initial financial projection signifying a $4.3million budget gap between recommendations and the anticipated revenue estimates. On March 6, the School Committee had reduced the budget by $1.4million narrowing the gap to $2.9million. To reduce the budget gap, Mr. Gilrein’s recommendations were as follows:
1. Reserves, fees, and savings
-Increase reserves from $814,000 to $1.1million $286,000
-Increase school choice commitment 500,000
-Cafeteria Revolving Account (fringes) 25,000
-Raise Fees – Athletic/Pre-School 40,000
-Reduce Fuel Line Item 45,000
-Reduce Electricity Line Item 25,000
-Reduce Professional Development 25,000
-Grade 5 Teacher at Charlton Middle School
(unanticipated retirement savings.) 32,000
2. Eliminate the following positions through attrition
-Team Chair, Mason Rd. School
-0.5 Pre-School, Mason Rd. School
-Custodian, Shepherd Hill
-Grade 6 Teacher, Dudley Middle School
-Secretary, Shepherd Hill
-Instructional Asst, Charlton Elem. School
-Grade 8 Teacher, Charlton Middle School $366,000
3. Initiate the following reductions in force
-2 Kindergarten Teachers, Mason Rd. School
-2 Grade 1 Teachers, Charlton Elem. School
-1 Grade 4 Teacher, Dudley Elem School
-1 Teacher, Shepherd Hill
-1 Team Chair, Charlton Elem. School
-2 Instructional Assts., Mason Rd. School
-4 Elementary Librarian Asssistant $384,000
All Committee members voted in favor of the budget reductions, with Chairman Elaine Rabbitt opposed.
Liz Canney, student representative on the Committee, provided great news regarding the Shepherd Hill Student Council. For the second time in three years, they were awarded the “Gold Council of Excellence Award,” which is based on their past year’s work. They earned 46 out of a possible 50 points in their achievement and had been selected for the Top 10 Project Award as the result of their work assisting the residents of Brimfield after the devastating tornado strike. Additionally, three students won the Commonwealth Award: Michaela Carofaniello, Christopher Gardner, and Roberto Martinez.
Finance Director William Trifone requested authorization to act on the district’s behalf in committing the district to a long-term natural gas contract for Mason Road School. As prices for natural gas have decreased, it was determined that exploring the open market for long-term savings with a broker’s assistance would be favorable. The committee unanimously approved the authorization.
Members in attendance at the meeting: Michael McConville; Elaine Rabbitt; Raymond Chalk; Geraldine Nowicki, Chair; Pauline Aucoin, Vice Chair; Catherine Kabala; Joseph Pietrzak; and Liz Canney, Student Rep. Also in attendance, Sandra Sullivan, Recording Secretary; William Trifone, Finance Director; and Sean Gilrein, Superintendent.
- Wednesday, 21 March 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News