It is hard to believe that we are already past winter break and March is upon us. Fasten your seat belts, because it will be June before you know it!
With a process that began right after the holiday break back in January, we continue the work of developing the Fiscal 2020 (19/20 school year) budget. The approach taken this year has been quite modest, with our focus centered on maintaining a level services budget. This means any new expenditures reflect costs that are necessary to maintain the same level of programming and services as we have in the current year. As discussed at great length over the past months and years, there are many programs and services we would like to add or restore back into our budget. However, the state budget continues to provide very few new dollars to our district, and therefore any and all increases come on the backs of our member towns and tax payers. You can view any of these previous meetings and budget discussions on the SC YouTube Channel at https://goo.gl/3Bm5R5
The School Committee passed a Tentative Budget on February 13th that requires an increase in spending of roughly $1.7 million dollars, representing level services and increases only as required. You can view the current and past budget documents on our website at www.tritonschools.org/budget, or link directly to the FY20 Tentative Budget document in PDF by clicking HERE.
As is the case with any human services organization, more than 75% of our budget spending is attributed to personnel costs. The fast paced world we live in requires new and innovative ways of addressing student needs and preparing them to be successful beyond graduation. This includes programming for students who perform above our expectation and need additional challenge to reach their potential, as well as those needing more support and intervention to find success. Aside from in district spending, more and more students are being placed in outside placements through Special Education, and those costs continue to increase at rates that can’t be supported without state assistance. As I mentioned previously, there is certainly more that we would like to be doing, but the Tentative Budget as presented and approved maintains the current programming we have in place, and I am hopeful to maintain this for our students.
I am often asked why our slow and steady decreasing student enrollment doesn’t allow costs to decrease as well. I created a brief video that hopefully helps explain the reasoning behind the disconnect between student enrollment and overall costs. It is posted it on my YouTube Channel at https://youtu.be/2ZRUk164QMw.
The figures as approved present a particularly challenging assessment increase for Salisbury as the student enrollment shifts continue to place more of the burden on them. As we continue to work through this process with the School Committee and our member town officials, we have several upcoming opportunities for you to provide feedback on the district budget.
- Public Hearing: We have the formal Public Hearing on the Tentative Budget this Wednesday, February 27th at 7:00 PM in the High School Library. This is a regular, televised School Committee meeting. As is always the case at a public hearing, the Committee will listen but will not respond to information presented until the following week when they deliberate on March 6th at 7:00 PM.
- Budget “Drop In” Meetings: New this year, we have setup a time in each town to be available to answer questions about the district budget. There is no formal presentation planned, but this is an opportunity for anyone from the community to drop in and ask any questions about this year’s budget, or our spending or programs in general. Our Business Administrator, Michelle Cresta, and I will be present, along with some Committee members. We have set a time to meet in each town, but anyone is welcome at any of the meetings, and I am hopeful the selection of days and times offer flexibility to allow those interested to stop in to ask questions. The locations and times are as follows, and Facebook users can click the link to the right of each listing to go to the Facebook Event for that meeting:
Monday, March 4th: Rowley Town Library — 10:00 AM — Facebook Event
Tuesday, March 5th: Newbury Town Library — 11:00 AM — Facebook Event
Wednesday, March 6th: Salisbury Town Library — 1:00 PM — Facebook Event
As I have mentioned previously, we continue our advocacy efforts at the state level, so watch for updates on how you can help as the state process ‘ramps up’ in the coming weeks. Our united voice as an entire Triton Community is important as we look to ensure our legislators and state officials understand the impacts of their failed state funding formula.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.