This blog post is my personal interpretation and summary of discussions from meetings that I attend and are not official minutes.
Sorry for the combined notes this go around. We have been in meetings after meetings working our tails off to get things done for our school communities. I am going to work my way backward and start with some AWESOME news!
SC Special Meeting 4/6/17
- Interviews of Dr. Laura Chesson & Dr. Jodi Fortuna – The best way to describe why the SC chose Dr. Laura Cheson is summarized well in the Lowell Sun article. http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_30905521/chesson-lead-groton-dunstable-schools
The SC as a whole is thrilled that Dr. Chesson has agreed to enter into negotiations with the Groton-Dunstable School Committee for the Superintendent position at the GDRSD.
- Chesson Resume: Chesson-Resume-GDRSD
Budget & Finance Meeting 4/4/17 & Workshop 4/5/17
- Capital Plan – An updated overview of the Capital Plan was presented to Budget & Finance. It includes all anticipated Capital Expenses that will need to be addressed from FY18 to FY26. Community members should understand that this is a living document as unexpected capital items can turn up at times, and they will need to be addressed as well. The current proposed plan to the Budget & Finance Subcommittee did not include any Capital Expenses under $50,000. Marlena Gilbert expressed concerns about including them in the operations budget and would like them all Capital items included that are over $5000 as that is the minimum value identified by DESE as a Capital Expense. At the Workshop, the Capital Plan was also presented to the entire SC, and there was consensus to include all Capital expenses that exceed $5000 in the capital plan, so they are outside of the operations budget. The SC will vote on the Capital Plan at our next meeting scheduled for April 12th.
- Summary Page Technology/Capital Plan/Needs Assessment – There was a discussion of having a master summary page that combines the spreadsheets holding the annual costs for the Technology, Capital and Needs Assessment to better plan for all items in unison. This will allow the towns to better plan on when Debt Exclusions may be coming off the books in each town and what funding mechanisms work best for each town. All the data is available in each of the plans, however combining them will be easier to manage the total cost of District improvements necessary to move our District forward.
- FY18 Budget Update – The Supt. believes we will have an additional $90,000 available in funds that we could either use towards additional positions or decrease the budget to help alleviate some financial stress for Dunstable as they had an unexpected enrollment change. The $90,000 savings was acquired by not moving out of Prescott, so the moving expense budgeted was not needed, Insurance Cost Savings observed through obtaining alternative bids and Special Education Transportation savings obtained through alternative bids. Due to the savings we are able to keep the following added positions in our FY18 budget…
- .5 Reading Specialist – Swallow Union
- 2.0 Library Media Specialists @ Elementary – This will allow study and research skills to be taught as a special at the Elementary Level.
- 1.0 Adjustment Counselor
Jeff Kubick and Marlena Gilbert discussed the opportunity to decrease the School Budget at the Budget & Finance and were in agreement to recommend this to the SC at the upcoming Workshop. This was expressed to the entire SC at the workshop and the entire board voted to instruct the Interim Supt. to reduce the budget through savings found while still including the three priorities mentioned above. Marlena Gilbert expressed that, this situation is different where as our SC had “left money on the table in Groton” and cuts were made. We are adding 6 positions this year and funding approximately $375K in overdue Capital Expenses. However, French was discontinued as enrollment did not justify the costs to our community, if the community wants to support classes under 5 then they should contact their elected officials so that is considered when they make decisions similar to eliminating a course offering due to decreased enrollment.
It is through the proper due diligence of our committee and the Finance Department that we are able to decrease our assessment and provide additional services to our students. For me it is not about the “dollars left on the table”, it is about the services we need to provide to our students and we are accomplishing that.
This morning I got an email update sharing with me that the Dunstable Advisory Board had voted 5:1 to approve the town’s proposed FY18 budget. The budget includes the anticipated decrease in the assessment that is expected to be voted on at the next SC meeting. The single dissenting vote had concerns about the costs of the personnel board recommendations, no one spoke against the school budget.