The Gorham School Committee will be voting on a proposed FY 20 School Budget at their regular meeting scheduled on April 10, 2019. Although this is certainly not the last step in the budget approval process, it is an important one so I wanted to provide an update to parents regarding what is contained within the Proposed FY 20 Gorham School Budget at this time. Here's a quick overview of the highlights of changes proposed at each school/program level:
Gorham High School:
The current proposed budget includes the addition of a 4/5 Health/PE teacher in order to accommodate for the large "bubble class" that is currently at the 9th-grade level. The budget also includes the addition of a half time Educational Technician position in the learning lab. This position will be used to help provide support for students in the area of literacy and math at the grades 9-12 levels.
At one point there had been discussions of reducing positions in the alternative education program and 2-3 teaching positions, but after considerable conversation, these positions remain within the proposed budget.
Gorham Middle School:
The current proposed budget contains no substantial changes to positions or programs at Gorham Middle School at this time.
The proposed budget currently includes the addition of a teaching position at Narragansett Elementary School. This additional position will allow Narragansett to add a 4/5 classroom as well as maintain three grade 3 classrooms for the 2019-20 School Year.
The budget also currently adds one additional teacher to Great Falls Elementary School to account for a large third-grade classroom projected for next year.
Finally, the current proposed budget adds a new K-5 School Resource officer to be shared across our K-5 schools. Currently, we have one SRO for GHS, and 1 more SRO that is shared between GMS and our three K-5 Schools.
The proposed budget includes funds to purchase additional i-pads for Kindergarten classrooms. The budget also includes funds to purchase additional Chromebooks to be placed on carts and used for students in grades 1-3 in order to provide enough working laptops for instruction and for testing.
Finally, the proposed budget holds off on purchasing new laptops for GHS students as they are still in extremely good working order. The budget does add funds to account for a shift in shared services with the Town of Gorham who has decided to hire its own full-time technician as their technology needs grow. This means we now need to fully fund our 32 hour a week position without shared costs with the Town for 2019-20.
The proposed budget includes $30,000.00 additional local dollars to fund our SNP program. These funds will allow us to keep up with labor and supply costs (due to our increasing enrollments) as well as to begin trying to make continuous changes to our program to improve the quality of our meals.
The proposed budget includes funds to add two new buses and two new bus driver positions to our budget. These positions are needed to address our increasing enrollments. These positions will also allow us to adjust our existing routes to create "inter-zone" specific routes that will then eliminate the need for transfer buses for students traveling across attendance zones. In essence, this will allow us to add 10 minutes on to the morning for K-5 students and 10 more minutes onto the afternoon for K-12 students without asking students to ride buses longer, get up earlier, or arrive home later each day.
The proposed budget includes two additional Ed. Tech. III positions to address increasing populations and decreasing federal fund allocations.
The proposed budget includes a Capital Improvements Budget addition of over $600,000.00. These funds are needed to fund a modular expansion proposed at Narragansett Elementary School. This modular expansion will be done in two phases in preparation to shift attendance zones for the 2020-21 School Year so that we will "funnel" all additional growth in Gorham at the K-5 levels towards Narragansett Elementary School. The first phase of the project will be to fund three modular spaces and associated site work. These three modular buildings will become home to 4 additional classrooms, one set of boys and girls bathrooms, and an electrical/plumbing/technology "closet" that will house the infrastructure needed to support continued additions. Phase I will be completed during the course of the 2019-20 school year although no students will be in the modular spaces until the 2020-21 School Year. Over the course of the spring and summer of 2020, we will then add three more modular spaces. Of those three, two will be combined to create a new cafeteria space (eating space only...kitchen will remain where it is) and one will be added on to Phase I to add two more classrooms. Overall then, when Phase I and II are combined in preparation for the 2020-21 school year we will have space for 6 additional classrooms and a cafeteria which will free up the gymnasium space for use with our physical education classes.
The funds associated with phase I of this expansion are currently within our regular proposed FY 20 CIPS budget so even though there will be a separate referendum question on this item in June (due to our town charter's requirement for a referendum on any individual project whose costs exceeds $250,000.00), the funds to pay for this project are intended to be within our proposed school budget and not bonded.
The Town Council will be discussing this referendum question at its meeting on Tuesday, April 2 of this week.
Overall ESTIMATED Impacts:
I underline the word "estimated" so that folks are clear lots of things can still change in this process. The state could change our funding, the town could update its property tax base numbers, the School Committee could still reduce or add items to the proposed budget and the Town Council can still reduce or add items to the proposed budget.
But as of right now, March 31, 2019 the estimated impacts of the proposed FY 20 school budget are as follows:
* This budget would represent an overall increase in expenditures of 6.87% or $2,674,665.00. A large portion of these operating increases can be attributed to just maintenance of existing positions ($1 million) or increases to our CIPS budget ($600,000.00).
* Assuming an increase in property tax base of $25 million, the proposed budget would increase the mil rate by 9.59% or $1.15 on the mil.
There are lots more details that are associated with this proposed budget...but hopefully, this summary provides good insights into the highlights. Once the school committee approves the proposed budget on April 10, it will then be sent to the Town Council. The Town Council will review and meet jointly with the School Committee on May 14th to learn the details of the proposed budget. The Town Council will then vote on the proposed budget (and can make possible adjustments to the proposed budget) on June 4. Whatever is approved on June 4 then goes to voters via referendum on June 11, 2019.
As always, if you have any questions regarding the proposed FY 20 School Budget, please ask!