ADMINISTRATIVE BUDGET SESSION
MARCH 15, 2011
At an ADMINISTRATIVE BUDGET SESSION of the Town Council and School Committee of the Town of South Kingstown, County of Washington, in the State of Rhode Island, convened at the Town Hall, in and for said Town on the 15th day of March 2011 at 6:55 PM.
Ella M. Whaley, President
Carol Hagan McEntee, Vice President
Mary S. Eddy
Kathleen A. Fogarty
James W. O’Neill
Maureen E. Cotter, Chairwoman
Dr. Anthony Mega, Vice Chairman
Richard Angeli, Jr.
Stephen Scott Mueller
Also present: Stephen A. Alfred, Town Manager, Alan R. Lord, Finance Director, Andrew Nota, Director of Administrative Services, Dr. Kristen Stringfellow, School Superintendent, and John Ritchotte, Business Manager, School Department.
Dr. Kristen Stringfellow presents the School Committee’s proposed FY 2011-2012 budget. She discusses the School Department expenditure assumptions. Originally it was anticipated that the health insurance costs would increase by $697,995, however based on the claims through January 31, 2011 it is anticipated that there will be a $300,000 reduction associated with health insurance. It is estimated that P-Accounts will increase by 3%, last year there was a 10% reduction in supplies and materials to each school. Transportation costs at the beginning of the budget process were anticipated to increase by $108,440, however since the initial budget hearing in December 2010, they went out to bid and awarded a bid which reduces the cost assumption by $150,000. A 5% increase in utilities is projected in the amount of $40,158 and a 2% increase in pension costs in the amount of $512,437. The NEASK collective bargaining agreement expires in August 2011; two other collective bargaining agreements expire in June 2011, all after the budget process is complete. There are adjustments in outside tuitions including a 5% increase in special education. Chariho and the Charter School tuitions have to be included in the funding formula per pupil, so there have been adjustments made to those also.
Discussion ensues relative to revenue assumptions associated with the School Fund. It is projected that State Aid will be 5% below the projection of the funding formula. A 0.64% increase is being requested in the Transfer to School Fund.
Discussion ensues relative to the Pension Rate. The certified pension rate was 11.25% as a result of pension reform, however rates have increased to 13.23% resulting in the additional expenditure of $371,000. The non-certified pension rate was 6.20% and rates have increased to 8.59% resulting in an additional expenditure of approximately $141,000. The pension trend indicates that there was a brief reprieve in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, however the rates have begun to escalate.
Discussion ensues relative to the District FTEs. From FY 2006-2007 to FY 2010-2011 there has been a 0.5 reduction in administrators, a 32.7 reduction in certified staff and 28.3 reduction in non-certified staff for a total staff reduction of 61.5 or from 610.1 to a projected number of FTEs for FY 2011-2012 of 536.6.
Discussion ensues relative to the funding received in Federal Grants for FY 2010-2011 including: Title I (Disadvantaged) in the amount of $307,718; Title II (Teacher Quality) in the amount of $205,218; Title IV (Safe and Drug Free) in the amount of $7,336, IDEA (Special Education) in the amount of $1,106,041; IDEA Pre-School in the amount of $24,792; ARRA Title I in the amount of $40,000; ARRA IDEA in the amount of $459,525 and ARRA Pre-School in the amount of $15,736.
The total projected amount of Federal Grants for FY 2011-2012 is unknown until the finalized federal budget. All ARRA funds disappear entirely. Title I, II, IV, IDEA and PS funds spent in 2011 included the following amounts: $679,125 for salaries, $349,487 for Benefits, $455,903 for Purchased Services, $50,566 for Supplies and Equipment, and $67,779 for Capital Improvements.
There has been a reduction in Charter School enrollments. In 2010 there were 108 students enrolled in Charter Schools, down from a high of 153 students in 2006.
Discussion ensues relative to the State Aid Trend. State Aid has been on the decrease since 1996 when we received $7,433,939 which was 28.90% of the budget. In 2012 it is projected that we will receive $8,444,527 which represents 14.18% of the budget. The Governor’s recommended education aid as of March 9, 2011 was $8,391,093.
Discussion ensues relative to the School Fund Undesignated Fund Balance. On June 30, 2009 the undesignated fund balance was $1,937,290. A surplus of $895,406 was applied for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, $484,322 was applied to the operating budget for FY 2010-2011; an adjustment in the amount of $1,999 was made for the 2009-2010 fiscal year leaving a $2,350,372 undesignated fund balance as of June 30, 2010. It is proposed to apply $775,623 toward the operating budget for FY 2011-2012 leaving an anticipated undesignated fund balance of $1,574,749 for June 30, 2011.
The Superintendent made $644,000 of reductions in the following areas: teacher’s assistant, elimination of a school nurse teacher floater position, mentor program supplies, ESY Summer School, 1 FTE staff itinerant teacher, 1 FTE course consolidation teacher, 8 FTE teacher assistants and or clerks, replacement administrator, transportation savings, and unemployment compensation. The Superintendent’s Budget was presented at $59,567,477; the School Committee’s budget proposed this evening is less the reductions and updated and is in the amount of $58,434,545.
Other considerations that need to be reviewed are the expiration of Federal ARRA funds in 2012; and the expiration expires in FY 2012 of Federal SFSF used currently as a supplement to state aid. The Governor determines whether that amount will be considered in the base of the state aid or whether it is eliminated. As of March 8, 2011 it was restored in the Governor’s recommended budget. The group home aid of $375,000 is not included in the funding formula and is not guaranteed. As of March 8, 2011 the group home aid is included in the Governor’s recommended budget.
If additional reductions were to be considered in priority order they would be as follows: from the P-Account $21,600, elimination of intramurals 5-12 $30,200, case load increases for specialists $140,000, elimination of Grade 4 & 5 instrumental and chorus $60,000, maintenance truck $30,000, additional High School course consolidation $70,000, student assistance counselors $50,000, Middle School Athletics $60,000, Technology Computer Labs $70,000, Guidance Counselor $70,000, School Nurse Teachers Sharing Buildings $70,000, Librarian reduction $70,000 for a total of $741,800 in reductions without unemployment consideration.
Discussion ensues relative to the cost of unemployment insurance. It is estimated that the cost of the unemployment insurance is between $45,000 and $50,000.
Discussion ensues relative to the student assistance counselor and what is meant by the school nurse teacher sharing buildings. The student assistance counselor position is partially funded from a grant: there are two positions, one that services the High School and the other services the two middle schools. They talk to students in regard to making positive choices and avoiding behavior that could be unhealthy. There is currently a school nurse teacher in every school building. There are medically fragile children in every building. In addition, there is a school nurse floater for absences; this floater is based at the High School but could be deployed anywhere within the district in the event of an absence or a field trip or other activities that may warrant an additional nurse. The Superintendent has already eliminated the floater so we don’t have a back-up. There are other districts that do not have a certified school nurse teacher in every school. We will have to look to a model to share between buildings. It is a mandate to have a school nurse who is also certified to be a teacher if there are children that are medically fragile.
Discussion ensues relative to having a higher percentage of teachers and non-certified employees laid-off than administrators and why you need the administrators is you have less personnel. The School Department has an administrator and assistant administrator per building. It would be impossible to cut that if we wanted to maintain supervision and coverage in each building. For one year the School Department is looking to share a principal between two elementary schools until they know what the restructuring will look like.
Discussion ensues relative to safety in regard to the administrators. The principals are responsible for bus monitoring, supervision for the entire building, cafeteria control, discipline issues and safety concerns. You have seven buildings, you need seven principals so one third of the number of administrators is fixed. Then you have the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Pupil Personnel Director, Finance, and Maintenance. The denominator that you are actually working with that is fluid is very tiny. The changes at RIDE are going to have to be implemented through administration. In essence that becomes another state mandate.
Discussion ensues relative to restructuring. In the fall the School Committee started involving a community focus group to work with them on a strategic plan particularly in the area of resources. A strategic group has met, has brought forth some significant ideas and those ideas will be worked on with a smaller community group. This group will meet from now until the end of May to talk about reconfiguration as a reconfiguration advisement committee.
Discussion ensues relative to the reconfiguration being implemented for September 2011. The intent is not to do that. The intent is to inform the School Committee so that a decision can be made by the end of June and take a year to plan the restructuring and implement the following September.
Discussion ensues relative to health care cost for the schools for FY 2010-2011 being $7,242,000.
Discussion ensues relative to adjusting the School Fund downward to account for the loss in population.
Discussion ensues relative to the number of administrators in the system, specifically three vice principals at the High School.
Discussion ensues relative to any cross programming between the Education Exchange and the School Department. There is no dialogue with the School Committee at this time.
Discussion ensues relative to the State of Rhode Island having to help other communities come through this economic downturn and the effect it will have on the Town of South Kingstown and the funding for schools.
Council President Whaley notes that School Committee member Mueller is present and that Senator Sosnowski is in the audience.
The Town Manager discusses where we are at this point with state aid for education. The Governor’s budget does provide a different revenue structure than what we had in the budget document. The Town Manager’s proposed FY 2011-2012 had revenue from both the state and federal government at $8,444,527. This represented a $375,000 loss for the first year of the implementation of the formula and secondly a 5% downward movement. In the Governor’s budget we are looking at receiving $8,391,093. This is inclusive of the Group Home Aid of $375,000. There is also a grant as far as transportation aid in the amount of $16,139. The federal jobs bill income is money that was available in the FY 2011-2012 or FY 2010-2011. This was money that was distributed to each of the school districts to be used to be able to maintain employment or to increase employment within the school sector. Governor Carcieri at that time indicated that he was looking to hold back that money in its entirety. The money is federal money that has to be expended on or before June 30, 2012. Governor Chafee is recommending as part of the aid for FY 2011-2012 the $420,852 in South Kingstown’s case becomes revenue to the school fund. This means that the state and federal revenue will equal about $8,828,000. The total revenue would be $58,818,000. The expenditure statement would remain the same at $58,434,545 resulting in a built in surplus for FY 2011-2012 in the amount of $383,557.
The property tax base will not be able to accommodate the continued loss from the implementation of the new funding formula with maintaining the same structure that is in place at this point.
Discussion ensues relative to the number of students on free and reduced lunch. It is anticipated that there are 585 students associated with that program.
The following members of the public are present and comment:
Discussion ensues relative to the number of students that go to South Kingstown Schools that live on tax exempt property at the University. At the last count there were 20 students attending South Kingstown Schools from the University.
Additional comments are made by the following:
Adjourn at 9:30 PM.
Dale S. Holberton, CMC