Tuesday, April 16, 2019

FY 20 Proposed School Budget Approved by School Committee! On to Town Council!

I wanted to take a quick moment to share an update with folks on the FY 20 Proposed Gorham School Department Budget since we've had some recent changes since my last blog update that impact the overall proposal.

Newly Approved FY 20 Proposed School Budget:

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019 the Gorham School Committee voted 6-1 to approve of the newly revised FY 20 Proposed School Budget.

The proposed FY 20 Budget now totals $41,010,533.00 and represents a 5.31% increase in expenditures over the final approved FY 19 budget of $38,942,505.00.  This proposed budget represents an 8.2% increase in local appropriation need, an overall increase of $1,642,126.00. Assuming General Purpose Aid (State GPA) is finalized at the proposed level, and the actual FY 20 property tax base increases by just $25,000,000.00, the impact of this budget on the mil rate is an estimated increase of 6.6% or $0.79 on the mil.  I fully anticipate that this mil impact will decrease as we get more up to date information from the Town on our tax base increases for FY 20.

The proposed budget is approximately $700,000.00 LESS THAN what I had shared with folks in my last blog. Since my last blog, the School Department received information that our health insurance premiums would remain unchanged for FY 20 (0% increase) which allowed us to reduce approximately $150,000.00 from the budget. Also since my last blog, significant changes were made to our proposed CIPS (Capital Improvement) budget. These changes are a little more complex, so I'll take a moment to explain...

Our originally proposed FY 20 CIPS budget included over $1 million in funds to pay for site work for a proposed modular expansion project at Narragansett Elementary School that is needed to address our increasing enrollments at the K-5 levels. The School Committee had been attempting to pay for the modular expansion solely from "regular budget" funds. Because of this, we had anticipated leasing modular spaces and paying for the site work from the originally proposed FY 20 CIPS budget. However, when we brought the necessary referendum question to the Town Council for approval to be placed on the June ballot, the Town Council voted 4-2 against allowing the referendum question to be placed on the June ballot, explaining that their preference seemed to be that they wanted this expansion to be bonded and for the modulars to be owned by the Town of Gorham vs. leased. We will be meeting with the Town Council jointly on April 26 at 6:30 p.m. to gain clarity on this piece, and to hopefully move forward with the modular expansion as a bonded project. In the meantime, however, it became clear that we no longer needed to place the site work and lease costs in the proposed FY 20 budget because we would either be bonding this project or we wouldn't be doing this project at all (I'll get into the implications of that in a minute). Because of this, we were able to adjust our proposed FY 20 budget and reduce another $560,000.00 from the proposal.

That's the simplified version of how we got to the proposed budget we are at....if you want to learn more, please visit our website LINKED HERE and you can see the original budget presented to the SC, you can watch videos of our budget workshops, and you can see the final proposed budget booklet in much more detail.

Overall, the School Committee and our district leadership team believe that this budget represents the funds necessary to continue to support the high-quality educational services we strive to provide for our community's most precious resource (its children) while balancing the needs of our taxpayers who support our schools.

A Little More On The Proposed K-5 Modular Expansion

I wanted to make sure folks understood a little more about the need for our K-5 Modular Expansion Proposal. PLEASE CLICK HERE to read more detailed information. Bottom line is this. If we don't move forward with this expansion project we will officially be out of classroom space in all 3 elementary schools at the end of the 2019-20 school year. This means that in order to address continued growth from that point forward, we would either need to increase class sizes (putting more students in the same number of classrooms) or we would need to add a modular at Great Falls and then another one at Narragansett and then another one at Village, and, and, and. This would be a haphazard and "piecemeal" approach. The preferred approach is to build on a modular expansion at Narragansett Elementary School in order to prepare for a shift in attendance zones to occur for the 2020-21 School Year. This shift would then direct most of the continued growth towards Narragansett Elem. while reducing some populations from Great Falls and Village giving them additional room to continue to grow. This preferred approach would be a 10-15 year "solution" that would set us up well to then construct a more permanent addition onto Narragansett Elementary School that could be, at least partially, funded by the state. This would provide the long term facilities vision we wish to achieve.

The School Committee will be meeting with the Town Council on April 29 at 6:30 p.m. for a workshop meeting to discuss how to best move forward to address these needs. I will update you once I hear more.

Last Days of School

I just received official word from the MDOE today that they have approved my request to "waive" the use of a school day as a community day due to Pooch's funeral services. I can now share the last day of schools calendar with parents. Here's the plan:

With this one day "waived" we used 6 snow days this year, 5 of which were already planned in our calendar. This means we must make up one full day of school. Because of this, the last student day will now be held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019. This last student day will be an early release-dismissal day. Teaching staff from across the district will then gather in the afternoon for our final luncheon and closing workshop, after which they too will be dismissed for the summer.

So, once again, the last student day will be on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, and students will be dismissed early on this day. If you have questions, please reach out to your school's principal. If you are interested in seeing the 2019-20 School Calendar to start planning for next year...please CLICK HERE.

As always, if you have ANY QUESTIONS regarding the budget (or anything for that matter)...please let me know. You can always reach me via email at heather.perry@gorhamschools.org.