REMINDER: The 2010-11 New Rochelle School Budget will be released at 7:00 PM on Feb 11th at at the “School Budget Community Input Forum” which will be held at the New Rochelle High School library (enter the building through the teachers parking lot off of 265 Clove Road).
Don’t shout at the waves. If you care, come! If you want to be heard, speak up! If you want accountability, you have to demand it!
From: Martin Sanchez
To: Richard ORGANISCIAK; Sara Richmond; Jeffrey Hastie; Jerome Smith; David Lacher; Deirdre Polow; cindybabcock; Chrisanne Petrone; Quay Watkins; Liz Saraiva
Sent: Wed, Feb 3, 2010 7:04 pm
Subject: school budget
For your consideration – see you all next week
In an ever increasing difficult time, our schools need to work with less without impacting learning. Sounds horrific to think about, but given the times we live in, we must have the courage to take steps that would alleviate tax payer concerns, but more importantly give the community some sense that the Board of Education is really doing something tangible to make a difference. The budget review should not be a monologue that continuously dismisses public input. It should be a democratic process that evolves over time and is meaningful. The bulk of the budget discussion should involve small group discussions amongst community folks seated around tables, responding to specific options perhaps initiated by the Board president. The entire group should have break out sessions, discuss specific issues (Instructional personnel, non-instructional personnel and miscellaneous stuff). They should reconvene and each group should represent summaries of their discussions. From here we should get a better a sense of what the community needs to do and how it can help the Board. To argue in a vacuum and pretend you operate in a silo will not help you. I realize you may think this is too much to ask, but the Board needs help.
The budget is huge. The budget can be more reasonably tolerated, but the way it is presented, it obfuscates how things really work; who does what and how much does it really cost. We have been over the years not been very transparent with our community. I know this to be true and all you know this as well.
I offer some suggestions below because I know your are gripped by a union that refuses to be reasonable and see things as they really are, but more importantly, I offer some suggestions because I know you could live with them. I care about our kids and I care about my community.
We have to outline reductions of millions in expenses, both instructional and non-instructional. The largest cuts included salary and health care benefits district wide. Wages and benefits are the district’s single largest expense, and while we don’t have control over retirement costs – those are mandated by the state – we do have the ability to reduce wages and health care benefits.
2010-2011 Budget Reductions
Here’s the complete list of options that can be presented at a community forum.
-Savings? = Reduce K-12 staff by an estimated (x?) (FTEs) by implementing a higher student-to-teacher ratio in targeted classes.
-Savings? = Restructure the media and technology program for our schools (There is tremendous underutilization).
-Savings? = Offer online high school classes (estimated reduction of (x?) FTEs). Other districts do it.
-Savings? = Restructure K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL) program (estimated reduction of (x?) FTEs). You all know how I feel about this.
-Savings? = Reduce K-12 textbook budget.
-Savings? = Reduce substitute teacher costs by cutting some professional development that requires substitutes.
-Savings? = Reduce summer school services and transportation costs.
-Savings? = Reduce custodial and maintenance costs. Options include reducing salary and health care costs, or modifying the level of service. The district can issued a request for proposals (RFP) to seek options for possibly privatizing some or all of this service.
-Savings? = Reduce transportation costs. Our district spends more than $3,000,000 transporting non-NRED students to private and parochial schools. Are we reimbursed? More importantly is this legally required? If not, an end to this must be envisioned. I will ask this question publicly.
-Savings? = Reduce overtime costs. These reductions would be targeted for activities on the weekends or other times outside of the regular school day.
-Savings? = Reduce athletic costs. Options include reducing the number of freshman games, cutting administrative costs at the middle school level, eliminating weekend transportation to sporting events throughout the county, consolidating some sports, and instituting a pay-to-play system that’s augmented by needs-based scholarships.
-Savings? = Seek energy cost savings by implementing an energy education and monitoring program. Turning the lights out was good. Can we do more?
-Savings = Eliminate high school lunch-hour supervisors, with those duties taken over by administrative staff or community assistants. How about teachers?
-$5 million potentially saved = Reduce salary and health care benefits.
-Reduce discretionary budgets for supplies and materials.
-Eliminate non-essential staff in central administration, and at the high school level.
-Reduce the number of administrators for special education.
-Help the community better understand what the schools do – that might generate more community support for donations. Make clear how people can advocate in New Rochelle on behalf of the schools.
-Reduce the number of security personnel.
-Find ways to collaborate with the New Rochelle Public Library.
-Charge for student parking. Annual parking permits for high school students can vary from $30 to $40.
-Look at how to use the district’s facilities to generate revenues. One example cited was the possibility of renting the use of swimming pools (some community clubs had been using it for free). Other suggestions: Close buildings that are underutilized, and sell land owned by the district that’s not being used.
-Limit conference attendance unless funded through grants. This includes the BOE!
-Reduce summer school costs.
-Change to November elections.
-Reschedule low-enrolled 2nd semester classes at NRHS.