FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

2014-2015 Budget Process

Where can we see the overall proposed increase from the current budget?  What is the figure?  Response:  The answer can be found on the Superintendent's Proposed 2014-2015 Budget presentation (click on link to access).  On the page marked "2014-2015 Superintendent's Proposed Budget Summary" it shows the proposed increase as $1,324,174, a 2.77% increase. 

On page 8, projected AMS stipends are $3,655.69...how does this compare to the $7,000 of stipends shown on page 9?Response: A level budget for middle school intramurals is again recommended. $7,000 next year is the same amount that is budgeted this year and was budgeted in 2012-2013. We hope to increase participation in this important part of our student's middle school experiences.  For only those particular sports that we ran last year, the cost is expected to be $3,655 in 2014-2015. 

On page 47, do we really expect to have less magnet school students in 2014-15 then we do currently?  Response:  Across the region next year school enrollment declines are expected to continue. After eliminating the no cost pre-k students from the budget, it leaves 58 magnet students for next year; down from 61 students this year on the attached November 14, 2013 roster.

Page 61--sorry to see that only 10 students are taking VHS classes.  Response:  There was and continues to be a lack of support from counselors to making recommendations to students for taking such classes.  It has been expressed that some counselors believe the courses offered in this environment as less rigorous than the courses that are offered via the traditional model.

Page 99--AHS main entrance concrete ADA $31,250 (is this something still left from the construction project that is included in CIP?) If not, if ADA should it be?  Response:  This is not left over from the building project and is not appropriate to include as a part of the existing ADA project.  The area described has been patched in the past and in the immediate, it will be patched again.  The inclusion of this project was intended to be proactive with identifying future needs that are likely to reach the level to include in the annual CIP budget.

Page 108--TBS gym roof repair $10,000 (is it leaking currently?) If so, do we need to repair this to prevent interior damage?Response:  The gym roof at TBS is not currently leaking and requires no additional work at this time.

Page 135--do all the schools still have septic systems? I thought several were connected to the sewers.  Response:  Septic systems remain in operation at PGS, RBS and AMS.

Page 143--Lunch prices...comment about $92,000 if price increased $0.50? Would be nice to see how our prices compare to surrounding districts. Is this showing we are breakeven withOUT the price increase?   Response:  No, according to the Director of Food Services we will not break even without a price increase.  The Food Services Director and Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations are requesting a $0.50 increase which they project will generate $92,000.  This revenue is to be used to support our expanding “healthy food initiative” that we are advancing now.

Page 145--What does the $476,300 of SpEd Tuition reimbursement represent? How does this differ from $1,054,197 of SpEd excess cost?  Response:  The $476,300 represents local billings to the City of Hartford for Open Choice students who receive special education services.

Page 145--is SEPTA paying for the additional time? Why -0- in 2012/13 but projected revenue for current year and next year?  Response:  In 2012-2013 the SEPTA monies were not included in the revenue line.  The total received was deducted from the total expense.  Gross budgeting now accounts for those monies as revenue.

Page 205--How does this sheet compare to what we have been looking at in Finance? In the future we probably should not show subtotals by school...since it helps to make students potentially identifiable.  Response:  This is a simple look at what is projected for next year as compared to the very detailed summary reports generated for use by the Finance Subcommittee.  I respect the concern about displaying potentially identifiable information and will revise such reports in the future. 

Page 208--Who is the 6th CO administrator?  Response:  The additional administrator was the Supervisor of Special Education that was not filled this year due to the unanticipated expenses about which we learned on August 11, 2013.  This position is not funded in the 2014-2015 Proposed Budget.

Page 216--SpEd caseloads--Just curious, from an overall viewpoint, how do you determine the reasonableness of each of the case loads...since there seems to be quite a range in number of students.  Response:  The case loads as they have been reported vary depending upon the number of hours each student’s  IEP requires.  We continue to have low caseloads due to the model in place (“pull out to service” vs. “push in by providing services in the regular classroom setting").  This remains an area of high priority – to use staff more effectively for early intervention and direct special education services in regular classroom.  This budget reflects a change in the model beginning at TBS.

Page 247..the 209 athletic trips are just for the fall season? Is it less than fall 2012 since we have the new bus? How much of a reduction in number of trips do you expect to see going forward?  Response:  Yes, 209 is for the fall season. About 50-75 away games trips are expected to be performed next year using our own buses and driver. The cost for wages, fuel and maintenance is included in this line item. 

Pages 249--292...List of charters....I am assuming either the Athletic Director or Asst. Athletic Director review the sports runs (others review other charges) for reasonableness prior to the bill being paid.  Response:  Our Athletic Director must approve and initial any invoices before they are processed for payment. 

Page 302--Theater arts teacher position...is because of video production, correct? The drama numbers did not seem that high in the detail of class enrollments.  Response:  No, this represents the addition of Technical Theater which will provide programming for students to learn basic elements of set design and construction, gain hands-on training in lighting and sound, and construct set pieces for Drama productions.

What is the actual dollar amount increase over last year attributable to increased certified staff salaries and benefits?  I know that we apply certain revenue against this number, but I'd like to see it without any "credits".  I'm trying to understand in pure dollars what is the contractual increase in salaries/benefits.  Response:  Certified salaries will increase by $350,000 from $26,140,000 to $26,490,000.  Benefits will increase another $150-175,000 primarily because of health insurance. 

What has been the trend in hiring certified staff that does not have a classroom or teach a regular class (i.e., over the last 5 years how many of these certified staff have we hired, broken out by year)?  By no classroom or teach a regular class I am referring to someone like a reading specialist or anyone being compensated pursuant to the certified staff contract (or admin contract) who doesn't teach a classroom of students on a regular basis.  This would include administrators.  If possible, I'd like to see the total number we have in the system and how that number has increased/decreased over the last 5 years.  As an FYI, I will be asking about the roles of these folks and the necessity of them.  Response:  Please see non-certified positions added to budget during the last three budgets.  Function of each is also included.

Year                  Certified Position                                                                   Funding Source

2012-2013       Mathematics Intervention Teacher                                       $78,271 (PARTIALLY GRANT FUNDED)

2012-2013       Home to School Liaison, K-12                                             $61,000 (TOTALLY GRANT FUNDED)

2012-2013       Director of Technology                                                          $131,000

2012-2013       0.6 FTE English Language Arts Coordinator, 7-12           $96,000 ($56K=0.6 FTE + $40K=2 periods)

2012-2013       Mathematics Coordinator (7-12; stipend)                           $24,000 ($4K=Stipend + 1 teaching period)

2012-2013       Science Coordinator (7-12 ; stipend)                                  $24,000 ($4K=Stipend + 1 teaching period)

2013-2014       Special Education Coordinator                                           ($126,000) (NOT FILLED)

2013-2014       Social Studies Coordinator (7-12; stipend)                        $24,000 ($4K=Stipend + 1 teaching period)

2013-2014       World Language Coordinator (7-12 ; stipend)                    $24,000 ($4K=Stipend + 1 teaching period)

2013-2014       -2.0, 0.5 FTE Reading Teachers                                         ($79,500)

2013-2014       2, 0.5 FTE Tutors (if necessary, not currently filled)            $46,800 ($20.00 per hour)     

Is there any way to put a dollar amount on money expended to meet state/federal mandates (i.e. implementing common core, implementing advisory, implementing teacher eval)?  I would like to understand in pure dollars what mandates actually cost to the extent we can unravel these amounts from the other parts of the budget.  Response:  Please see projected expenditures below:

Special Education and Related Services

Year                   Item                                                                                          Amount

2012-2103       Tuitions, Transportation and Services                                  $10,410,000

2013-2014       Tuitions, Transportation and Services                                  $10,945,000

2014-2015       Tuitions, Transportation and Services                                  $11,750,000

Advisory (AMS)

Year                   Item                                                                                          Amount

2013-2014       Payments to Staff for Curriculum Writing                                      $4,000

2014-2015       None                                                                                                     $0

Advisory (AHS)

Year                  Item                                                                                            Amount

2013-2014       None                                                                                                     $0

2014-2015       None                                                                                                     $0

Curriculum Revision to Common Core State Standards (please note curriculum revision was necessary regardless of the CCSS)

Year                  Item                                                                                             Amount

2012-2013        Cost of Substitutes                                                                       $26,320

                         Payments to Staff for Curriculum Writing                                     $11,696

                         Consultant                                                                                    $27,500

2013-2014       Cost of Substitutes                                                                        $48,000 (projected)

                        Payments to Staff for Curriculum Writing                                       $14,064

                          Consultant                                                                                   $50,000 – GRANT FUNDED

2014 – 2015    Instructional materials (Mathematics)                                           $44,122

                          Instructional materials (English Language Arts)                          $24,800

                          Consultant                                                                                   $50,000 – GRANT FUNDED

                          Curriculum Management Software                                             $26,000

                          Prof. Development (certified staff – curriculum writing)              $29,850

Certified Staff Evaluation

Year                  Item                                                                                               Amount

2012-2013        Cost of Substitutes (Committee meetings)                                     $2,800

2013-2014        Cost of Substitutes for Department Coordinators (training)            $2,800

                         Teacher Evaluation Training                                                           $7,500 (CREC)

                          Administrator Evaluation Training                                                  $   750 (CREC)

                          SLO Training During Prof. Development Day (5 schools)              $2,250 (CREC)

There is one line item that accounts for the entire increase in our proposed budget: Tuition Non Public/Special Education/DW = $1,380,044.10. What does this represent and how many students does this account for?  What steps have we taken and not taken to minimize this and future expenses of the same nature?  Response:  Prior to this year, each school reported out the OOD tuitions at the building level.  This year, we have created a single line, at the district level, which covers tuition costs for all of the students in the district.  Please note that the figure here is the anticipated costs to the district after subtracting an excess cost amount apportioned by the State. This figure covers out-of-district expenses for 40 students, a membership to FVDC, and placeholders for 5 magnet school students. We are also in the process of developing plans for transitioning students in out-of-district placements, when appropriate, back into district schools/programs and have initiated planning with area school districts to offer more regionally based programs.

I'm guessing the Transportation/Sped Ed Out Of Town /DW = $139,320 is part of the same related expense.  Again what levers do we have to minimize this special education expense?  Why does it have to be so high compared to overall increase?  Response: The increase in transportation costs is aligned with the increase in numbers of students in out-of-district placements.  We currently “shop” for best prices when trying to meet the transportation needs, which results in using a variety of providers, in addition to sharing vehicles with Farmington Public Schools when possible. We are also combining students when it is feasible to do so.

I saw the Health Insurance /Employee Benefits/DW expense increase of $277,061.21, which is a net increase of 5.7% in percentage terms.  Is this just medical trend with the same health care plan from CIGNA?   Response:The Board of Education and the Town of Avon together manage a self-insured health plan and Cigna is hired as the third party administrator to manage claims. Milliman, a national health insurance consulting company is employed on a retainer basis by both boards and functions as a quasi-broker negotiating annual changes. For 2014-15 Cigna’s fee is not increasing, however, the cost of actual claims for both the Board of Education and the Town is expected to rise 5.7%

One of the big drivers in the budget is Cert Salaries-Tchrs and in particular the World Languages at AHS & PGS where we Added Latin Tch .2 FTE @ $11,222.40 & Chinese Tch .4 FTE @ $12,000.00; Add Chinese Tch .8 FTE @ $24,000.00.  This amounted to two line items totaling $263,937.60.  I know I'm bucketing Latin here, but I know Chinese was only supposed to cost $60K net.  It looks like the Cert Salaries-Tchrs category in the proposed budget accounts for $280,707.56 of the $1,324,173.55 Net Increase from last year.  I know the recent strategy has been to invest giving the students a worldly education, but I wanted to confirm we should be thinking of this as 20% of our increase?  Response:The number of world language teachers is expected to remain relatively the same next year but could change slightly depending upon the elective offerings that our high school students choose in the spring for next year. As part of our recently adopted Strategic Plan we are encouraging our students to pursue World Language opportunities to prepare them for the global community we live in.

There is a budget offset. In this year’s budget for teaching world language in our elementary schools, we budgeted 3.7 staff in a district location instead of in the individual school budgets. Now that the program is underway those teacher salaries appear in the school site budgets and the district line is no longer necessary. An offset can be seen. The Confucius Institute is funding the majority of the new Chinese language expenditures. Our cost will be only the $60,000 we are budgeting.

The $31,250 for the AHS entrance. Is this amount included in the 2014-15 proposed budget, or is it just listed on page 99 for informational purposes?  Response:The amount is included for informational purposes and is not in the 2014-15 budget.

The $10,000 for the RBS roof...same question as 5. In addition, if the roof is not leaking, I am not sure why would it be on here at all.  Response:We agree and have revised the information.

If AHS and TBS do not have septic tanks, why are there amounts included on page 135 to clean septic tanks at those schools?  Response:Page 135 is a summary by vendor, our septic company, Suburban Sanitation Service. Suburban Sanitation Service also cleans grease traps and grease tanks (see attached for scope of work). The building allocations for schools with no septic is for such cleanings.

On page 143, the projected revenues and expenditures for 2014-15 appear to me to be "break even" without the additional $92,000. In the copy of the email from Christine Mancini, the first page of the comparison chart is not included in my handout...I am assuming it has the column headings on it...so am currently only guessing what each of the columns represent.  Response:To balance the budget and because of higher food costs associated with serving fresh food which is more expensive, a difficult staffing reduction is planned. A satellite type operation, cooking at AHS and trucking to RBS, is under consideration. The three columns on the comparison chart are grade configurations; elementary, middle and high school.

What would the increase in certified salaries be if all of the certified staff moved forward from this year? I am assuming the $350,000 is the net of the pluses and minuses. This breakout is one of the questions Ken had after the meeting yesterday.  Response:If all of our current 302.2 certified staff moved forward next year an additional $582,000 would be needed or another 1.1% of budget increase.

What is breakout of the tuitions, transportation and services (big picture) that total $11,750,000 in the current budget?Response:

Salaries                   $ 5,800,000

Benefits                      2,300,000

Tuition                        2,404,000

Transportation               678,000

Purchased Services      480,000

All Other                          88,000

Total                        $11,750,000

 

(From Public Questions)...What is the total amount of items (at least certified and non-certified salaries) included in the 2013-14 budget that are NOT in the proposed 2014-15 budget? A breakout of the significant items would be beneficial (would help show we do zero based budgeting) I am not sure that the amount you cut from requests (that may or may not have been reasonable to begin with) is a meaningful number since some folks will say you should not have cut anything and others will say you should have cut more.  Response:$582,000 for certified staff and $86,000 for non-certified staff are not included after having been removed from the 2014-15 budget. Reductions are detailed by school location on pages 299 and 300 of the supporting documentation. Another $250,000 shown on page 301 was re-appropriated for purposes in accordance with the recently approved school district Strategic Plan. The Plan is being implemented on an incremental basis.

 

1.  How many students are going to magnet schools? How much money is in the budget for this item (excluding sp.ed)?Response:  The district expects to have a total of 58 students attending magnet schools during the 2014-2015 school year.  The anticipated tuition payments total $252,000.

 

2.  Your presentation explains which items have increased for this budget.  Can you please highlight which items have decreased.  Response:  This information is on the district website and may be identified by locating “Reductions Made from Proposed and “Re-Appropriation Summary.”

 

3.  How much grant money has APS obtained this year?  Response:  Anticipated:  $1,038,185

 

4.  How much grant money does APS expect next year?  Response:  Projected:  $975,994

 

5.  How much money did APS get from the state for implementing core curriculum changes this year?  Response:  $0.00

 

6.  How much money is APS allocating for development and implementation of compacted version of either traditional or integrated pathway of Common Core Standards?

 

Response: 

 

Year                  Item                                                                                                     Amount

 

 2012-2013      Cost of Substitutes                                                                             $26,320

 

                          Payments to Staff for Curriculum Writing                                         $11,696

 

                          Consultant                                                                                           $27,500

 

 2013-2014      Cost of Substitutes                                                                             $48,000 (projected)

 

                          Payments to Staff for Curriculum Writing                                        $14,064

 

                          Consultant                                                                                           $50,000 – GRANT FUNDED

 

 2014 – 2015    Instructional materials (Mathematics)                                             $44,122

 

                          Instructional materials (English Language Arts)                             $24,800

 

                         Consultant                                                                                             $50,000 – GRANT FUNDED

 

                         Curriculum Management Software                                                     $26,000

 

                         Professional Development (certified staff – curriculum writing)       $29,850

 

 7.  Prior and current budget show funding for new math and language arts curriculum.

 

Response:

 

 Year                 Item                                                                                                     Amount

 

 2013-2014      Cost of Substitutes                                                                             $48,000 (projected)

 

                           Payments to Staff for Curriculum Writing                                        $14,064

 

                          Consultant                                                                                            $50,000 – GRANT FUNDED

 

 2014 – 2015    Instructional materials (Mathematics)                                             $44,122

 

                           Instructional materials (English Language Arts)                            $24,800

 

                          Curriculum Management Software                                                   $26,000

 

 8.  Please provide the new curriculums that teachers are currently using to develop lesson plans.  Response:  The units will be released via the district website as they are developed and approved by both the district’s Curriculum Professional Development Council (CPDC) and Board of Education.

 

9.  Why did APS eliminate 6th grade ability groups from the budget?  Response:  This was not eliminated from the budget.  The grouping was specific to one team at TBS.

 

10. What is included in the enrichment budget and why is it decreasing from the previous year?  Response:  The reduction made to the small budget request was for supplies that are being obtained through others means (computer based, regular education supplies, etc.).

 

11. Where is the line item for the gifted and talented program APS is implementing (by Board consensus earlier this year)?Response:  Expansion of any programming for identified gifted and talented students has not been requested.  The district Director of Pupil Services continues to have as one of her priorities to propose an identification process to the Board of Education for approval. 

 

12. Where is the line item for transporting advanced 6th graders to AMS for accelerated math (a program APS already has in place)?  Response:  Any/all transportation expenses are estimated and appear in the appropriate transportation items.  The district also maintains two busses for in-district trips to avoid paying large costs generally assessed by the commercial carrier with whom we contract.   

 

13. What is the origin of this goal:  “operate in a fiscally responsible manner in a time of continued, unprecedented economic uncertainty”?  Not supported by mission, strategic plan, or policy. Response:  This goal is simply a statement of the reality we operate in as a public school district.  We have been charged with the great responsibility to appropriately prepare all students for college and career readiness while facing significant pressures to do so at little or no cost increases in each budget.  I don’t believe that the district’s mission statement, strategic plan and/or any policy suggests operating in a fiscally irresponsible manner during what we know to be difficult economic times.  We continue to present and advocate for budgets that are fair, efficient and provide for the incremental growth to assist us with meeting our fundamental responsibility to prepare all students.  

 

14. Why did APS schedule the budget meetings to fall on teacher conference days?  Response:  The budget development calendar being used this year accommodates the short window of time during which the Board of Education has to review the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget as it has been presented.  This is the first time this type of conflict has been questioned.  It will be given full consideration when the next budget development schedule is prepared.