On Wednesday, March 18, there will be a committee of the whole meeting of the Southbridge School Committee. This meeting will be held in Room M100 at 25 Cole Avenue. The purpose of the meeting, according to the agenda, is a budget work session addressing the current budget and the Superintendent’s proposed FY 2016 budget.
Yesterday I presented an analysis of the FY 2014 budget data based upon its comparison on an expenditure per pupil basis with other school districts across the State.
This School Committee has been anything but forthcoming with information (despite repeated pledges to the contrary which, at this point, can only be regarded as one of Southbridge’s longest running jokes).
Nevertheless, in light of yesterday’s analysis and Wednesday’s upcoming meeting, I will pose a series of questions that they might review at the committee of the whole meeting with the intention of addressing at their upcoming regular meeting on March 24.
To what extent are the allocation decisions reflected in the 2014 data repeated in the FY 2015 budget and where do they differ significantly? To what extent are the patterns in the FY 2014 data repeated in the proposed FY 2016 budget?
Why is funding so high for administrative functions and other teaching services (which comprises instructional coordinators and non-supervisory team leaders including curriculum facilitators, instructional team leaders and department chairs) while it is so abysmally low for classroom and specialist teachers, professional development as well as guidance, psychological counseling and testing?
What elements of in-district transportation and other pupil services cause this component to be so high on a per pupil expenditure basis?
Why is there an issue regarding textbooks and technology when, at $380 per pupil, we are above the median level for expenditures in this area? Similarly, how can there be such an issue with technological infrastructure when half of our students are in a building only a few years old?
How can the taxpayers of Southbridge take any budget seriously that does not redress the obvious imbalances between the money going to administrative personnel and that which is directed to those actually doing the teaching?
These are a few of the questions that occur to me in reviewing past practices. I encourage the readers to pose others. Let’s see if the School Committee and the Administration even makes an effort to address our concerns.