Category Archives: Schools

BAKER PLANS $105 MILLION INCREASE IN SCHOOL AID

John Nunnari regularly emails town officials news from the legislature, and this story by the State House News Service is a preview of a fairly rosy municipal and school aid proposal in the budget for next year –


 

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 3, 2015….State aid for public schools would rise by 2.4 percent next fiscal year and unrestricted local aid would increase by 3.6 percent in Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget proposal, which is set to be fully released on Wednesday.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the increases fulfill the governor’s pledge during the campaign to boost state aid in concert with rising state revenues – state tax collections are due to rise 4.8 percent in the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1.

The Chapter 70 school aid account in Baker’s budget will feature a $105 million increase, which means a minimum increase of $20 per student, Polito told the News Service during an interview Tuesday prior to a meeting with mayors and other municipal officials.

Unrestricted local aid, which is predominantly generated by Lottery profits, would increase to $980 million in Baker’s budget plan, which will undergo review and redrafting in the Legislature in the coming months.

Specific information about levels recommended for other local aid accounts – regional school transportation, payments in lieu of taxes, and special education, for example – was not available.

“We felt the focus should be on Chapter 70 school aid and on the unrestricted aid, and let the school districts and the municipal managers determine how best to utilize those dollars,” said Polito, a former state representative and local official.

The extra state aid will help cities and towns cope with rising health care costs, school enrollment increases and snow management costs, Polito said.

“Level funding is a cut,” she said. “And we felt that it was necessary to increase the percentage for both school aid and unrestricted aid in order to help our communities perform the services to the quality they need to help our families and our hardworking taxpayers.”

Baker budget aides say his spending plan will also restore fiscal 2015 budget levels for the METCO program, which enables students from Boston and Springfield to attend schools outside those cities.

Baker and Gov. Deval Patrick cut METCO funding in recent months as part of efforts to address a deficit in this year’s state budget.

A Baker budget aide said the governor’s spending plan would include “a lot of level funding.” The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has estimated a $1.5 billion gap between expected revenues and expenses next year.

Baker is tackling that budget gap without recommending any tax hikes and does not plan to draw money from the state’s stabilization fund, which lawmakers have regularly used to support spending plans.

The governor’s budget bill, which will be the subject of hearings starting next week, also won’t include any “one-time gimmicks,” Polito said. “It’s a straight-forward budget that reflects the priorities that we have, which are helping our cities and towns succeed,” she said.

END
03/03/2015
Serving the working press since 1910
http://www.statehousenews.com


 

School budget & OPEB

This exchange took place under the comments to the post about the MMA annual meeting, and are worthy of more people seeing them –


  1. Pete-

    I find it absolutely stunning that there is no coverage of school budgets, in particular the relationship of cost to rising and falling student populations. School spending represents, far and away, the largest item in any town or city budget, yet no one seems to want to deal with the issue. Also, I see nothing on the agenda that addresses the massive shortfall in the funding of employee benefits. I note that there’s a session on “Lessons and land mines”. Is this a tutorial to help public officials avoid facing the really important fiscal issues? Very disappointing.

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Selectman Osler “Pete” Peterson

    Charlie,
    Thanks for your comments. i am catching up,so please excuse my delay.

    First, town officials have absolutely no say or control over school budgets, so I would guess that is the reason that there are no MMA seminars on school budgets. The town as a whole can only approve or not the total school budget at the town meeting, but once a budget amount is approved by the town meeting it is then up to the superintendent as to how those monies get spent. While I am exceedingly interested in the school budget issues you raise, please know that i already probably spend about 20 hours a week already just trying to do my volunteer job as a selectman (and i also have a full time job as an attorney), so I have yet to find the extra time to study the school budget issues. Also, those issues really are the purview of the school committee, not the selectmen, despite my interest.

    I see that the school committee meeting to discuss the budget got postponed by the storm, and so i encourage you to go to the re-scheduled meeting to raise your school budget issues with them.

    Second, I certainly did hear about OPEB liabilities again this year at the MMA annual meeting, although I did hear more about it last year. The MMA is seeking to be part of the solution, crafting legislation to improve the OPEB situation. Governor Patrick’s commission on the OPEB issue made recommendations over a year ago, but the MMA opposed them on the basis that they both did not do enough and also what id did do would make things worse for towns. Look at the MMA’s website (www.mma.org) and you should find the action item that the membership voted on this past Saturday morning to ask the legislature to enact OPEB reforms.

 

School Committee cancelled tonight

This from the Superintendent –


Tonight’s School Committee meeting scheduled for 7:30 has been cancelled. The meeting is rescheduled for Tuesday, February 3rd  at 7:30 in the Lowell Mason Auditorium located at MHS. The 2015-2016 Budget Hearing will take place during this meeting.

Sincerely,

Jeff Marsden


Mike Sullivan just called and got my vote to declare an emergency, which allows departments to spend in excess of their budgets he tells me.

Superintendent’s blog

The Superintendent of Schools, Jeffrey Marsden, has started a monthly blog, which is now into its second month, and which I highly recommend.  This month Jeff explains the issues behind the changes in the music program at the Dale Street School, which gave me the information I needed to appreciate the issues of the situation and to better understand the solution that has been crafted. I also liked the solution of appointing a citizen and schools committee to study whether the current solution is the right one.

I do not usually get to see the School Committee meetings on Medfield.TV, so I greatly appreciate having Jeff write about what is going on and pushing that information out to me to read on my own schedule, when I am able.  This is exactly how the town should be delivering information to its residents on how their town is being run.

The town government should exist to get its residents the services that they want and are willing to pay to have, but in the process of doing that, those running the town government must figure out exactly which services those are and in which amounts the residents both want the services and are willing to pay for them.  The first step towards accomplishing that goal is by making sure the residents have full information on which to make their decisions, and Jeff’s blog is a great step towards making information available to we residents.

To me this blog is a huge step in getting me the type of information that I, as both a resident and a parent, want about the schools, delivered in a format that works well for me, and so I applaud Jeff for starting the blog.  Thanks Jeff!  You have made me one happy reader

Boys State & Girls State

20141030-legion-boys & girls state At the Legion last night twelve of the seventeen MHS seniors who spent a week last summer at the Legion run Boys State and Girls State, held at Stonehill College in Easton, recounted their experiences to the crowd of over a hundred in attendance at the Legion’s monthly dinner meeting. Each of the dozen students spoke about what the experience had meant to them, and each was remarkably eloquent, poignant, or in turn funny.  The experience had clearly made strong positive impressions on each student, and for some it had been life changing.  More than one student recounted the benefits to them from meeting others from backgrounds so disparate from what they have know in Medfield.

Boys State and Girls State are the Legion run opportunity for high school students to learn about the American political and governing processes by actually taking part in mock government elections and functions, as well as taking courses.  The students are divided amongst separate towns, elect their own leaders from amongst their own members, and deal with legislation.

20141039-Legion-Boys & Girls State-2Last summer the students also got to participate in the actual political process, as some researched and took a position against the then pending legislation in the Massachusetts legislature that would have allowed cell antennae to be located virtually anywhere regardless of local zoning.  The students submitted letters against the legislation to the legislature that Representative Shawn Dooley said last night helped to put a face on the opposition and to defeat that legislation.

Medfield’s Legion sends more students to Boys State and Girls State than any other city or town in the state.    Around 700 students in all participate.  Karl Schwartz, past Legion Commander, recounted that when he took the program on 17 years ago no students were being sent by the Legion to participate, and that the program has been gradually built up over the years.  Today the students compete for the slots, as the demand to participate exceeds the monies  available to send students. 20141039-Legion-Boys & Girls State-3

MAHS on 11/10 at MHS

Notice today to MHS parents regarding the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey coming on 11/10.  Extremely useful data is derived from this long running survey –


October 27, 2014
Dear Parent or Guardian,

To make sure we continue to give the best possible education and services to children in Medfield, we want to learn about their attitudes and behaviors with regard to a variety of health-related topics. Inorder to accomplish this, students at Medfield High School are being asked to participate in the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey. The questions on the survey cover many topics including alcohol, tobacco and other drug use; violence and safety; nutrition and physical activity; sexual behaviors; and mental health.  This project will continue to help our district develop and enhance its health education and prevention services. We will be giving this survey to students in grades 9-12 on Monday, November 10th.

The survey is anonymous, meaning your child will not put his or her name on the survey and no one will know what he or she writes.  There will be no identifying information on any of the surveys.

Completing this survey is volnntary.   Your child’s grades in school will not be affected by whether or not he or she participates.   Your child can also decide not to take the survey or skip any question he or she does not wish to answer.

The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment is a Federal Law that requires us to notify you ahead of time about the survey, and give you the chance to look at it, so you can let us know if you do not want your child to take part. Ifyou would like to see the survey before deciding, a copy will be available in the main office from Thursday, October 30, 2014 through Thursday, November 6, 2014.

If you DO NOT want your child to take part in the survey, please complete the form below return it to the main office secretary by Friday, November 7, 2014.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Susan Cowell, Wellness Content Specialist.

Robert Parga

Emailed report card

Kudos to Medfield High School for emailing the report cards.  Great way for them to get us the information.