Monday, March 4, 2019

GHS Building Update, FY 20 Budget Development and more!

Wow, I can't believe that I haven't written since late January! Hard to believe we are already in March and hopefully this white stuff we are all growing tired of will soon be gone and the beautiful green of Maine's spring and summer will return.  I'm sure we are all looking forward to that!

Before I get into the "meat" of this post regarding FY 20 budget development and a quick update on the GHS building project, I just wanted to take a moment to send out a heartfelt THANK YOU to students, staff, and community members who pulled together in a very short period of time to celebrate the life of Officer Wayne (Pooch) Drown last week.  The lessons learned by those of our students attending the services were significant.  They watched as an entire community mourned the loss of an incredible person.  They watched community leaders show emotions they would otherwise never see. They watched folks cry and other folks support them in their grief.  They watched almost 2,500 people celebrate the life of service that Pooch personified.  They could see the very real positive impacts on others that service can have and what it truly means to be a member of a strong community.  Folks stepped up, and came together in incredible ways to make it all happen.  I don't know about anyone else, but after having been a part of that service, I feel an extremely strong sense of pride in being able to serve this incredible community, and I just wanted to say THANK YOU to those that helped celebrate Pooch and all that his life stood for.

Now on to my updates. . .

Proposed FY 20 Budget Development Update:

Of course with spring, comes school budget development season!  As is the case every year, the months of March, April and May are the intense times that our administrative team works closely with the School Committee and then later with the Town Council to develop a budget for the coming school year that does its best to balance the needs of our children with the needs of the taxpayers who we ask annually to support our incredible schools. 

As you all know, in recent years we have had increasing costs to support our increasing student populations here in Gorham.  We have worked hard to balance these costs with our community's ability to support our schools and continue to work hard to do so. 

This year, the Gorham School Committee instructed me to start our budget development process a little differently than in the past.  This year, they provided a "target" overall expenditure increase number and asked that in the budget development process, I present to them a budget that met that target.  The target that was set was an operational increase of just 2.75% over FY 19.  In order to hit this mark, that means that I could only propose an increased budget of a little over $1 million dollars in operational expenses for FY 20.  When one understands that it costs us just under $1 million to simply "roll forward" our existing staff and programs for students it provides the context to understand that in order for our administrative team to hit that target, we had to propose significant reductions to the initial proposed FY 20 budget.

The budget that was presented to the Gorham School Committee on Feb. 13, 2019 represents an operational expenditure increase of 2.72% over FY 19 with an overall expenditure increase (including Adult Education & a summer benefits reserve amount) of 3.22%.  At the time that the budget was presented to the School Committee we had not yet received initial state subsidy amounts so we simply used FY 19's numbers on the revenue side to fill in those blanks.  Therefore, as the School Committee was advised - YOU SHOULD NOT LOOK AT THE REVENUE SIDE YET as it is not accurate!  Those numbers will fill out more accurately as we move through the budget approval process.  If you want to see the details of our initially proposed School Budget, you can check out the 270+ page budget booklet that presented to the School on February 13, 2019 by CLICKING HERE and for a little more "context" you can check out the slide presentation shared with the School Committee on Feb. 13, 2019 by CLICKING HERE.   If you are looking for a summary list of all proposed additions, you should go to digital pages 24 and 25 of the budget booklet (or hard copy page 21 & 22)  and if you want to see a summary list of all proposed reductions, you should go to the digital pages 48 and 49 of the budget booklet (or hard copy page 44 & 45).

Since that original presentation, the School Committee has been asked to read the 270+ page proposed budget booklet.  They have asked questions and the administrative team has provided answers that can be reviewed by CLICKING HERE.  They have also held a full day budget workshop meeting this past Saturday where they have reviewed additional information and where they dove more deeply into the details and implications for all proposed additions and reductions to the budget.  They have developed a system of discussions and "straw poll" tentative agreements or TA's that allows for every School Committee member to ask questions of the administrative team and to voice their opinions regarding each proposed addition or reduction prior to making decisions to keep items out, add items in, or bring items from the proposed reductions list back into the proposed budget.  School Committee members may also suggest their own ideas on additions or reductions.  The March 2nd full day meeting was just the beginning.  There are 4 more budget workshop meetings scheduled.  Those are (starting at 7:00 p.m. and held at Central Office) scheduled for:

*  March 11, 2019
*  March 18, 2019
*  March 25, 2019
*  April 1, 2019

These meetings are open to the public to attend, although public comments will not be accepted.  It is during these budget workshop meetings that the originally proposed FY 20 Superintendent's Budget becomes the proposed FY 20 School Committee budget.  It is this budget that will be approved by the School Committee on April 10, 2019 and then sent to the Town Council for their approval and from there to the residents of Gorham in the form of the validation referendum vote scheduled for June 11, 2019.

So this is already a long blog post with just the budget to focus on...but I did want to also take a minute to share a little information on the GHS Building Project Discussion...

GHS Building Project Update:

If you haven't already done so, please check out our UPDATED GHS Building Project Website which you can view by CLICKING HERE.  This site is absolutely stuffed with incredibly detailed information to help the public stay up to date on our work!  The only thing missing is an updated Q&A section, which I am working on right now so should soon be up and operational.

Once you have reviewed this site - WHICH I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO - please also be sure to participate in a very important "Thought Exchange" Survey which will help guide the next phase of work with the GHS building committee.  You can participate in the thought exchange survey by CLICKING HERE.

Next big items for the public to be aware of are:

*  Presentation of the first INITIAL estimate of project costs to GHS Building Committee - March 12, 2019

*  Presentation of the first INITIAL estimate of project costs to Gorham School Committee - March 13, 2019

*  Presentation of the first INITIAL estimate of project costs to Gorham Town Council - March 19, 2019

*  Public Forum #2 held at GHS - March 26, 2019

*  Traffic Engineering Study - Conducted over the course of March and early April, 2019

*  "Hard Launch" of the "Gorham Pride" Athletic Capital Campaign - by end of March, 2019.

There is much more detailed information on the please check it out...and also please know that that website will be where we archive all information pertaining to this project.  We have agendas and notes from all meetings, we have results from feedback on surveys and public forums, etc.  We are working hard to make this as transparent a process for our community as possible...and as always - IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME!  I have already heard significant amounts of misinformation out there in the community regarding this project...I'd much prefer people ask questions of me so I can provide accurate information to folks!

Well, that's a long enough blog post for now!  More to come!  Please stay tuned!


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