In the meantime we continue to look at next year's budget from different angles. Earlier today I passed along a couple pages worth of questions/observations to Mr. Paradise in hopes it might unearth some savings. And I know that he and Dr. Muenker have been working diligently to come up with ideas to trim spending without impacting student programs. I want to be optimistic about our chances but we have to work based on what we have in front of us. And until we can address our labor costs, this means we have to work the dreaded list. Speaking of which . . .
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The List and the 800 pound gorilla
Prior to Tuesday's meeting, Joe Paradise handed us a survey for the list of 31 potential budget cuts (up from 28 items) and asked each Board member to note which items they would consider and which should be withdrawn. The list will be amended based on consensus.
Trying to evaluate this list with the biggest piece of the puzzle still missing (i.e., our labor costs) is difficult at best. We must anticipate there will be no contract resolution with the NFT between now and adoption of next year's budget. So all we have to work with are the costs associated with our Support Staff. The next step in our negotiations with NESPA is to await the Fact Finder's opinion, which hopefully should be available in the next few weeks.
Three more items were added to the original 28:
#29) Reduce or eliminate school nurses (this is likely limited by existing contractual language and labor rules)
#30) Increase fees charged for student parking permits, currently $25
#31) Charge for sending transcripts (approximately 1,200 to 1,800 requests annually)
Speaking for myself, I find virtually everything on the list to be objectionable to some degree, but there are a few I am not willing to consider (and will fill out my survey accordingly):
#2) Eliminate Middle School Co-Curricular activities
#5) Eliminate Elementary Guidance Counselors
#17) Reduce/eliminate instrumental itinerant music
#22) Increase class size at the High School
#25) Eliminate Kindergarten
There are another 15+ items I prefer come off the list but I want to learn more about them before forming a final opinion. The rest are open to discussion. Hopefully we will cull this list down by the next public meeting so you all know which items are truly being considered.
One other note about last night's meeting - The Board clarified the misinformation reported recently in literature distributed through State Rep Frank Farry's office. Simply stated, there is no 13.6% increase in State funding of basic education. We are planning for a 2% increase as is part of the proposed budget in Harrisburg. We believe there is confusion with the $2.2 million that was given to Neshaminy via Federal funds (not State funds) for special ed and new initiatives (not basic ed). Part of that money was used in our current year's budget and the rest will be applied to next year's. Sorry to disappoint those of you misled into thinking we got a windfall of new revenue.
Posted by William O'Connor at 9:28 AM