You are on page 1of 3

Amherst School District Fiscal Year 2014 Question and Answer Information from Line-by-Line Budget Superintendent

Maria Geryk’s budget presentation can be viewed at February 5, 2013 Amherst School Committee Meeting. The full presentation begins at point 45:37, the discussion about proposed budget cuts begins at 58.00, and the presentation around adds begins at 1:11:11. Answers to several frequently asked questions are included below. GENERAL BUDGET QUESTIONS 1. What is the line-by-line proposed budget? The line-by-line budget document represents one piece of the districts’ comprehensive spending plan. A number of years ago, the School Committees requested more detailed budget documents as part of the planning process. The Districts’ Finance Director recommended a model based on best practices as outlined by the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials (MASBO). The current iteration of budget planning documents includes: 1) Introduction Section that outlines current accomplishments, initiatives and goals for the upcoming year, challenges and focuses in the upcoming year, and other general information; 2) Organizational Section that includes demographic information, organizational charts, budget priorities, descriptions of fund types, and planning calendar; 3) Financial Section that includes the consolidated spending plan, the expense budget, the line-by-line budget, grant funds, revolving funds and capital expenditures; and 4) an Information Section that includes enrollment data, Central Office roles and responsibilities, gifts and donations to the district, and staffing trends data. It is important to note that, because we are three districts, our budgeting process is much more complex than can be reflected in just an individual district’s line-by-line budget document. Salary, materials and professional development, and other expenses are funded through multiple sources including the three appropriated budgets; multiple grants; and revolving funds such as school choice, circuit breaker, and preschool tuition. In addition, capital expenses are supported through a capital planning process with the towns of Amherst and Pelham and through the district for the Regional Schools. 2. The salary line for the District Strings Teacher shows a $20,000 reduction in FY2014. Is this due to fewer students taking strings? This salary line is only one example of how salaries projected in a level services budget may vary from the previous year’s budget even though there is no change in the position(s) FTE. In this instance, there are no reductions in strings at the district or school level. The $20,000 decrease from FY13 to FY14 is due to a teacher retiring at the end of FY12 and a new teacher being hired after the FY13 budget had already been approved with the retiree’s salary amount as the placeholder. $20,000 is the differential between their salaries. Since the teacher hired in FY13 remains in the position for FY14, the smaller amount is rolled forward. 3. Why are World Language Teachers added to Wildwood ($20,000) and removed from Crocker Farm ($7,000)? And why are World Language teachers still in the FY14 budget for a total of $100,000 when the program is going to be cut completely? The salary differences shown on the Wildwood and Crocker Farm salary lines indicate how the staff who provide Spanish Instruction were placed for this current school year. There was a movement made because some staff members teach both ELE and Spanish. This does not reflect reduction in instruction, just movement of people and, subsequently, their salaries within the budget. There are similar scenarios in other areas of the budget including Reading Instruction teachers and some paraprofessionals, for example. It is important to note that the staffing adds and cuts that were reviewed in the FY14 budget presentation are not shown in any lines within the FY14 line-by-line budget at this point in the process. After the bottom line budget is voted and staff movement happens, an actual FY14 budget will be created. This happens after the

FY13 budget is closed out and for the start of the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2013. The discussion of the cut to the elementary World Language program begins at the 1:03:55 point in the February 5, 2013 Amherst School Committee Meeting video. SPECIFIC COMMUNITY BUDGET QUESTIONS 4. A very large cut ($216,000) is shown in the District Resource Math line on page 53 of the line-by-line budget. What is this? When the district put math coaches in place, there was no Math Coach line in the budget. As a result, all of these positions were accounted for in the District Resource Math line. Given that this line title does not adequately explain the role of a coach, a new line entitled Instructional Coaching Staff was created on page 103 of the line-by-line budget. Therefore, there are no actual FTE cuts (or adds as it appears on page 103) because the three math coaches have simply been moved to the new line for FY14. It is important to make these types of housekeeping changes because they tie back to how schools report finances to the State. 5. Are the Math Coaches the only staff reflected in the Instructional Coaching Staff line? If not, what other positions are represented? The salaries of the three Math Coaches and the ELA Coordinator are currently reflected in this line. The ELA Coordinator is being cut for FY14, so when the budget is created in July there will be one less coach in this budget line. There will also be a change in the salary amount reflected in this line for the Math Coaches because in 2013-2014 they will split their time between coaching and providing direct service to students. This will require the Business Office to divide each person’s salary over two different budget lines for reporting purposes. The discussion of the changes to the coaching model begins at the 1:06:25 point in the February 5, 2013 Amherst School Committee Meeting video. 6. The Curriculum Director K-12 line shows an increase of $56,000 for FY14. Is this due to a salary increase, new position, or some other factor? This salary line actually reflects the Amherst School District’s portion of three positions: 1) the Director of Teaching and Learning, 2) the Director of Educator Evaluation and Assessment, and 3) the K-8 Math/Science Coordinator, all of whom are already in place during the current school year. The salaries for all three of these positions are split across Amherst, Pelham and Region. During the 2012-2013 school year (FY13), the district maintained two Directors in the Office of Teaching and Learning, one with a focus on curriculum and instruction and one with a focus on professional development, along with a building-based Elementary Science Coordinator. For the current year (FY13), the district still has two Directors—one with a continued focus on curriculum and instruction and one with a realigned focus on educator evaluation and assessment. This shift in focus resulted from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s release of the final educator evaluation model and implementation schedule. Also during the current year, the Elementary Science Coordinator position was cut and a K-8 Math/Science Coordinator was put in place. This position was created to support the implementation of the new elementary math program and to carry out the secondary math work to support a cohesive alignment across grades Since the K-8 Coordinator now has a cross-districts’ focus rather than an elementary only focus, we have technically added part of an administrator to Central Office. The increase of $56,000 in this budget line is due to several factors. Allocation of funding for the Director of Teaching and Learning’s salary has changed for two reasons. The position was partially funded by Amherst College for two years. That funding has ended and must be picked up by the district beginning in FY14, and, in addition, the percentage of the salary paid by each of the three districts has been reallocated based on actual work. The Director of Educator Evaluation and Assessment, which fills the prior Director of Professional Development’s role, resulted in a savings of about $15,000 which was put toward the K-8 Coordinator’s salary.

7. Speech Therapists are listed in the line-by-line budget under Special Education Specialist Services, sub heading Speech Services District Staff for a total of $245,706. Each school also has a budget amount listed for Speech Therapists. What are the differences between the district staff and the individual staff listed for each school? Schools are assigned site-based speech and language pathologists/therapists based on student needs and caseload parameters. These therapists are responsible for assessment, consultation, and direct service. They primarily serve students with special needs. The district speech and language pathologists are assigned to district specialized programs (Building Blocks, ILC, AIMS, and Preschool). These programs, while housed in a specific school, serve students from across the district. 8. It looks as if a new Grants Manager position has been added to the Business Office at a salary of $72,000. Is this true? No, there is no new grants manager position. The districts have had a 1.0 grants manager for many years who handles the complex work of liaising between the educational directors and the finance department to write grant narratives and budgets, submitting and tracking dozens of entitlement and competitive applications annually, and handling stringent reporting requirements for all grants awarded. Beginning last year, the longtime employee in the grants manager position began working a part-time schedule and splitting the position with a second person for a total of 1.0 FTE. The new employee sharing the position also serves as the parttime Out-of-School-Time Coordinator. As a result, this salary line currently pays for 1.55 FTE—part of the grants manager and the Out-of-School-Time Coordinator. This line shows an increase because these salaries have been accounted for differently this year than last year. There is yearly movement in the funding sources for many salaries as positions are moved on and off of grants and across districts based on what they are doing in their roles and on the availability of funding resources. The total Grant Manager salary is approximately $59,000 and is paid in the appropriated budgets and through multiple grants. 9. Can the salary for some support positions (such as the Human Resources support staff) simply be cut to help with the budget gap? Most salaries are based on contracts negotiated in good faith with our employee unions. They cannot be reduced.