Worcester School Meetings This Week

(Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.)

There are two Worcester school meetings this week of interest:

The Worcester School Committee Finance and Operations subcommittee meets Monday at 5:30 (that’s at the administration building, 4th floor); the agenda is here.

This is the first quarter meeting, so it closes out FY16, updates FY17 in full, and with accounts of particular concern…which are concerning. It’s only the end of the first quarter, so there are no recommended transfers as yet, but currently FY17 for WPS stands at over $700,000 projected in the red. The reasons are telling:

  • The loss of the state kindergarten grant when the Legislature cut it for this year: $694,132
  • Special education tuition beyond anticipated: $442,912
  • supplemental programs, in largest part additional need for translation due to updated Department of Justice requirements (hey, did we know anything about that?): $264,529
  • transportation, due to the city not increasing capital spending, and thus WPS having to cut back on needed new buses (and rent instead): $130,468

That, of course, adds up to more than $700,000; if you look at the report, you’ll see projected balances, as well. But this isn’t a good place to end the first quarter on. And the first snow falls tomorrow.

And do notice how many of those have to do with the state needing to update the foundation budget.

There’s a report on the MSBA-funded work done in WPS since 2012. A question of interest: the reimbursement comes back to the city; has the city been using the funds to pay off the MSBA-related borrowing? Or has it gone into the general fund?

Finally, there’s a response to Mr. O’Connell’s query regarding the signing of warrants. The full letter from City Solicitor David Moore is here. To say that this has rather startling policy implications, if fulfilled, would be an understatement, as Mr. Moore goes well beyond the municipal charter–which is in line with Lowell and Cambridge’s charters, where committees sign warrants–into querying the position the school committee holds in state law (and drawing conclusions I will say that I have seen nowhere else).  He also never speaks of ch. 71, section 34, which is where the authority is derived. I also find the tone of polite horror at school committees having to sign off on every expenditure a little entertaining, as it’s done in nearly every district in the state (yes, including cities).

The full Committee meets Thursday at 7 at City Hall; the agenda is here. The report of the superintendent will be on expanding preschool; there is as yet no posted backup.

There are reports of subcommittees, appointments, retirements, congratulations.

Mr. O’Connell requests a salary schedule.

Noting the update on school improvement plans that passed this past year, he also is asking for a process of consultation on school improvement plans.

Administration is requesting the School Committee accept $1700 in donations to Goddard Scholars.

Miss Biancheria would like to know how principals are evaluated.

She also is requesting that buildings be inspected with regard to: water systems, foundations, leaking roofs, heating systems, and
wrapped pipes…sounds rather like the facilities plan noted in the subcommittee report.

Miss Colorio would like all teachers and other licensed personnel renewed through “the new data base tool from DESE” by which I assume she means this, which is just a database, not a new way to renew.

She also would like a robocall to go out on the recovery high school and on Worcester Opiate Educational Forum.

There are two prior year invoices, including one for $74,967.76 for special education transportation services.

There is an executive session: the teachers and the IAs are still in negotiations (hm…nobody else?), they’re going to talk about PCBs some more, and there’s a lawsuit: Lyons v. the Worcester Public Schools. That’s at 6 pm, prior to the meeting.

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