If you care to identify yourself Anonymous, we can have a real conversation.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Pink slips delivered":
Why would the town and school department deliver pink slips before the end of the school year? Isn't this de-motivating for the teachers? This action doesn't make any sense unless the purpose was grandstanding prior to the vote on the override.
Anonymous, you might have missed the discussion at one of the School Committee meetings but the teacher contract calls for notifications by a specific date. The Superintendent has determined to provide as much advance notice as practical in order for the fine folks who are in danger of losing their positions to find work elsewhere.
This is a good move on their part, one more sign of good management by the Superintendent.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Franklin Charts Summary":
Does per pupil spending include the fees that are paid for busing and activities? Is the school department comparing spending to towns where these fees do not exist? What is the per pupil spending if you include the impact of activities and bus fees?
What about the impact of a charter school in town? Is the cost of running this school included in the budget? What about the children? Are they included in the denominator of this equation?
If the children are included in franklin's school population, but the cost is not included because it is state funded, then the calculation of per pupil spending is skewed.
Anonymous, the numbers are calculated by the MA Dept of Education to ensure comparison across the 351 communities of MA.Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Back to the drawing board, again":
The Charter School is funded by our tax dollars. The same per pupil rate that we pay for schooling our Franklin students is what the Charter School gets.
For further analysis on the per pupil costs, I would defer to the DOE web site I linked to. They are the experts on this.
If the schools are the town's highest priorities, then why isn't that budget fully funded? Why isn't the override about funding the lower priority items in the budget rather than saving schools and library.I replied:
The two steepest cuts in the budget are the school and the library. Schools asked for 58 million and even with the override will get 54. The library asked for 928k and will get 653k. Why is the town council focusing on these critical areas?
There are two other areas of the budget that are confusing to me. Under the benefits section of the budget summary, there is a new line item of $1.2 million of teacher health insurance. There is no equivalent line item in the 2007 budget. Is this a new cost? And below that there is something called a compensation reserve of $350k. What is that? That is $1.5 million in costs that didn't exist in 2007 but are now necessary to provide equivalent services?
Anonymous, as to why the town council isn't funding the highest priorities, I would put that question to them. I think they should have gone for the $4 million override to fully fund the level service budget for the schools and the town. They chose otherwise.
They chose to ignore the advice of the Finance committee on the override amount and the use of the stabilization funds. They are accountable for their decisions. They put us all in a bad position.
I will continue to ask them for a 5 year operating budget plan. The town departments have all drawn up a 5 year capital budget. The operating side of the budget could be just as easily prepared. Clearly, it is a forecast and can be adjusted as it goes, but they should at least let us know what the future looks like. Doing otherwise is fiscally irresponsible.
The answer to the new line item as I recall being provided at the May 1 open forum was that this was the line item to cover for the union contract negotiations. All the contacts are due this year. What increase is expected is lumped into the one line for the budget. It did not exist last year as a separate line as the increases were part of the existing contract and found in the normal salary and compensation lines of the budget.
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Override Vote on May 22 - Yes or no?":
I am undecided on my vote, because I lack the information to fully support a yes vote. This will sound bipolar, but I am for fully funding the schools in Franklin, while fundamentally against voting yes to additional taxes.I replied:
I look at this issue in two sections. First, is the school budget appropriate for this town and the service level we expect.
Once the town and school department finalize a fair budget that supports the mission, the issues moves to the town level. If the town believes that the schools are the most important service offered for tax dollars, why aren't the schools fully funded. To me, the override isn't to pay for the schools, it is to pay for the lower priority services.
In order to get comfortable with issue 1, I have specific questions on the school budget?
#1 - why does the school budget need to increase 13% when the student population over the past 5 years has increased at a rate of 1.4%? Even factoring inflation in at 4%, the increase should be more on the order of 6%. see http://www.franklin.k12.ma.us
/co/supt/budget/20YrEChart.pdfand calculate annual growth rate.
#2 - what are the $1.2 million in teacher health insurance and $350k compensation reserves? I remember hearing that a change in teacher health care would save the town money. This appears to cost an addition 1.2 million. And the $350k appears to be total fluff.
#3 - Where is the full budget and operating plan for 2008? Why is this not available on line?
From a town level, I'd like to know what services would be eliminated if there was a mandate to fully fund the school budget. Would the town eliminate 100% the library and recreation departments? Would DPW projects be delayed or eliminated? I'd rather have an override choice on these matters as opposed to fully funding DPW and mostly funding recreational activities at the expense of quality of schools.
At a town level, what other ideas have they pursued to fund things like recreation, library, senior services etc. Many towns have sponsorships for recreational teams and have advertising around fields. These items could replace tax dollars and provide a benefit to businesses operating in Franklin. I'd like to see some creativity as it relates to funding operations, especially recreation.
What do you think? Why are you comfortable with these items?
Anonymous, I don't follow your analysis on school population increases versus budget increases. The growth in school population has been less recently but the special education and other state requirements are increasing faster than the population hence the increase in the budget. So the factors to understand the increases lie beyond Franklin. I don't pretend to understand them all, which is why much of my information is linked to the DOE web sites.
As for the town council priority, they should explain. I do not endorse their position. I think they should have fully funded a level service budget for all the town services which would have meant voting for a $4 million override. We don't get to cast that vote however. We only get to vote for $2.7 million. So voting no, would leave us in a worse position and that makes no sense to me.
As for the options and creativity, the time is past for those questions right now. I recommend participating in future town council and Finance committee meetings to raise those points. They are valid but moot at this time.
The question for May 22 is simple, do we provide $2.7 million more to provide some level of service comparable to last year or do we live with less services?
My vote is yes to provide more and avoid the service cuts.
Then I'll get to the Finance and Town Council meetings to press for a 5 year operating budget so we will have a better understanding of what the future holds.
I hope to meet you there.