Sunday, March 15, 2015

Budget Questions For The School Committee

Ken O’Brien

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.


  1. Where are they nowMarch 16, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    I wonder where all the critics who scream bloody murder in December when the tax rate is voted are now during budget season when that tax rate is actually set.

  2. $680,000 is school department costs for unemployment since McLoughlin and Donovan were elected.
    $365,000 in legal costs since they were elected
    How much in back pay, buy outs, and arbitration costs?
    In the million+ for nothing.
    16% dropout rate. 69& graduation rate.
    Time for Big MSC and Dodovan to gogovan.
    Bring back Jovan and Lazo!

  3. Vote any councilor out who votes for any increase in school spending.

  4. Ms Stanton has a lotta balls asking for an increase; this is what happens when Principals & Superintendants are charged w/creating/managing a budget - when they have NO or limited experience in budgetary matters; add to that the arrogance of certain members of the SC (who are charged as gatekeepers of the $$$) to blindly allow the out of control spending.

    Absolutely - NO INCREASE - and cuts should be made to the existing budget - and NOT w/regards to teachers - and those line items that have to do w/teaching. The cuts should come from the TOP - the admin budget is outrageous - and very top heavy - no need for assistants to assistants - no need for every office at the 'old hs' (which was deemed not fit for use) to be occupied w/some sort of secretary/admin. But it is hard to unring the that where we will see the cuts - probably not - and who suffers? the kids...and the taxpayers.

  5. To those of you who have access to and read the Telegram - the end of Brian Lee's article in yesterday's paper should raise your blood pressure - the fabulous (not!) BUZZ - last year, explained away the astronomical costs of unemployment - $680,813 (school) VS $39,123 (town) - by stating that he had little alternative than to out ineffective workers in the Level 4 underperforming school district.

    REALLY ?!?!?!? did that work out for ya - Lauren & Kara?!?!?!?! and let's not forget God's gift to education - Brent Abrahamson!! and the Sped Queen - Mrs Quinney!!

    It would seem that the State did not quite agree - at least w/the Buzzmeister's tactics; truth of the matter is - Buzz was on a campaign to eliminate as many of the good people who had helped the High School go from Level 3 to Level 1 - to make room for as many of the Springfield cronies as he could. - and when it really got outta control -( since the State was not impressed w/his bullying tactics) - he was indisposed - out sick - and eventually - out the door - having padded his parachute nicely with Southbridge tax dollars!!

    How could all those Know-ologists on the SC let this happen??? Did they drink the Kool-Aid? WOW - and what about the 'Finance Director' - was he acting? or pretending? Did he not see the trends?? Everyone just turned their heads - covered their eyes - and let it happen.

    And they believe they have done a wonderful job. Geez, maybe they have. Townspeople don't seem to be up in arms. Do they not know? Do they not care?

  6. Show them you care!March 17, 2015 at 3:57 PM

    PLEASE ATTEND IF AT ALL POSSIBLE - the School Comm Budget Meeting @ 6PM on Wed, 3/18/2015 in Rm M100 in the Old HS on Cole Avenue.....these are your tax dollars at stake!


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