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P-FY10 Curtailment Summary J1 PDF_0

P-FY10 Curtailment Summary J1 PDF_0

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11/15/2013

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Equal Opportunity Employer
Portland Public Schools
Administrative Offices
196 Allen Ave., Portland, Maine 04103
207-874-8100
TO:
Portland School Committee
FROM:
Dr. James C. Morse, Sr.
DATE:
November 18, 2009
RE:
Superintendent\u2019s Suggested $2.7 Million Budget Reductions
Context

I would be remiss in my responsibilities as Superintendent of Schools if I did not start this report with the
obvious: all cuts impact the education of Portland students. The suggested budget cuts presented to you this
evening are before you because the state is anticipating a massive rollback/curtailment of state revenue during
fiscal year 2009-10. Commissioner Gendron (See Appendix A) has offered guidance to school systems that
they should take the 2008-09 curtailment figure, $1,836,816 for Portland, and multiply that figure by 1.4 with
the result being that Portland could potentially lose as much as $2, 571,542. As a School Committee, you
directed me, prior to the Commissioner\u2019s letter, to provide curtailment recommendations for your consideration
in the amount of $2.7 million. With that goal in mind, the staff and I have compiled the attached curtailment
suggestions for your consideration.

Process

Chair Eglinton has suggested we follow the same process as we would utilize during budget season. The
material presented on November 18, 2009, should be considered a first reading. No action on the curtailment
suggestions will be required of you this evening. The Committee will vote to refer the curtailment suggestions
to the Finance Committee for review. The Finance Subcommittee will meet on Nov. 24th, 7pm to consider the
superintendent\u2019s suggested cuts and to hold a public hearing. The Chair has asked that you take the curtailment
suggestions from the superintendent under consideration until the December 2, 2009, meeting, at which time the
Finance Committee will bring back the suggestions for consideration, debate, and to receive public comment.
The School Committee will have an opportunity to debate the merits of the various proposals, and adopt all or
any part thereof.

Budget Review

As directed by the Portland School Committee, the staff and I have compiled for your consideration suggested
budget cuts totaling $3,399,794. In reaching the $2.7 million goal, revenue projections and possible budget
reductions were considered. When attempting to reach the goal of $2.7 million I looked at the recent history of
revenue projections and have included $445,000 in anticipated revenue not previously included in revenue
forecasts when the 2009-2010 budget was initially adopted.

The proposed cuts come from every area of the 2009-2010 budget where additional reductions could possibly be
considered. Each principal, director, and central office department was asked to analyze their sections of the
2009-2010 budget within their area of responsibility. I have reviewed each suggestion made on our web page
virtual suggestion box to determine if teaching, support staff and/or the general public had suggestions not
previously considered by administrative staff (See Appendix D).

No Employee Cuts

As the School Committee is aware, the largest percentage of our budget is dedicated to staff salary and benefits, which would, on the surface, be the most obvious place to cut. Yet, I have not offered staff reductions as part of this proposal. The reason is twofold. First, the governor and legislature have not made actual reductions in state

Equal Opportunity Employer

aide to education and are unlikely to do so before January, 2010. As a result, no employee could be laid off
until after January. Second, state law requires that teachers receive a 90-day notice, which, if acted upon in
January, results in a termination date of April 2010. Finally, the district is self-insured for unemployment,
requiring 26 weeks of benefits. In the end, a beginning teacher making $45,000, inclusive of salary and benefits,
would save the system $4,500 for each teacher lay off (See Appendix B). Thus, for all the disruption it would
cause to the education of our students and the lives of our employees, little is gained.

Confidence in Suggestions

As I began this process my goal was to present only cuts to the Committee in which I had a confidence level of 10. Unfortunately, I could not maintain commitment to that goal. Every dollar of the school budget is dedicated to a particular purpose, therefore I needed to make best estimates related to various accounts.

Each of the cuts is raked on a scale of 1-10 with a \u201c10\u201d meaning I am absolutely confident in the suggestion
before you and a \u201c1\u201d meaning my confidence will grow or diminish over the remaining months left in this fiscal
year.

Such confidence rankings are based upon the assumption that between now and June 30, 2010, we will
experience no unexpected costs. Examples of unexpected costs could include a long protracted heating season,
expensive equipment failure such as boilers, or other potential budgetary calamities.

Example of a \u201c10\u201d is the $600,000 placed in the budget to refurbish the City\u2019s fund balance. We no longer have
a financial obligation to the City as a result of the 2007 financial collapse. As we closed the 2008-09 fiscal year,
our obligation to the City was met, therefore the $600,000 budgeted to meet that obligation can be confidently
considered as a component of the plan before you. An example of a \u201c1\u201d is the $40,000 estimated savings in
heating oil. If the heating season is mild, confidence in the heating oil savings could grow over the coming
months, if the heating season is severe then this savings may not be realized.

Closing

I will make monthly updates to the Finance Committee regarding the progress on the curtailment strategy
adopted by the full Committee at its December 2, 2009, meeting. Cuts need to be continuously scrutinized to
ensure they are being realized. Our credibility with the City Council can only be maintained through such
scrupulous oversight. Regardless of how hard we work to achieve the desired outcome of matching revenue
with expenditures, we may find ourselves in the unenviable position of seeking financial support from the City\u2019s
fund balance if the remaining seven and one-half months are not conducive to actualizing all of the savings
noted in detail in this report.

We need to work with the Portland legislative delegation to minimize the impact on the Portland School System.
If the governor and legislature \u2018reverse\u2019 the state funding formula for education as is widely rumored, then
Portland will experience the largest cut in total state education dollars, $2.5 million, of any school system in the
state. Such a loss represents nearly 3% of our total budget and is neither fair nor equitable.

Finally, let me conclude where I began: no cut can be made without recognizing that there is an impact on
students. It would be too easy to dismiss the suggested cuts as \u2018fat\u2019 in the 2009-2010 budget; nothing could be
further from the truth. The Portland Public School System budget is incredibly tight with little margin for error.
The adopted curtailment strategy will make a tight budget much tighter. A free and appropriate education
system requires sustainable support from the public in order for our employees to realize every child\u2019s potential.

I want to thank the administrative staff and union presidents for this work and their cooperation.
3
school system in the state. Such a loss represents nearly 3% of our total budget and is neither fair nor
equitable.

Finally, let me conclude where I began: no cut can be made without recognizing that there is an impact on
students. It would be too easy to dismiss the suggested cuts as \u2018fat\u2019 in the 2009-2010 budget; nothing
could be further from the truth. The Portland Public School System budget is incredibly tight with little
margin for error. The adopted curtailment strategy will make a tight budget much tighter. A free and
appropriate education system requires sustainable support from the public in order for our employees to
realize every child\u2019s potential.

I want to thank the administrative staff and union presidents for this work and their cooperation.

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