Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

1/6/15 Special School Committee Meeting

Happy New Year to All!!

The Committee kicked off 2015 with a special meeting last night to begin discussion around the financial aspects of both City of Melrose and Melrose Public Schools' revenues and spending. 2014 Finance Subcommittee leadership Carrie Kourkoumelis and Jessica Dugan brought forward their FY16 Budget Guidelines and Priorities document, designed to provide a framework for budget discussions for the Committee and the community. Following that review, Melrose Chief Financial Officer Patrick Dello Russo and MPS Director of Finance and Administration Jay Picone presented a Powerpoint overview that provided historical context to our financial situation and explained the kinds of challenges we will have in the future. Concluding the evening, Supt. Taymore offered her Budget Message for FY16.

My take-aways:

·      * Due to the loss of ARRA funding during the economic downturn in 2009-2010 and without the promised return of state and federal revenues that were predicted to compensate for the end of ARRA funding, Melrose has lost millions of dollars in revenue over the past five years. Other funding (grants, etc.) has also declined while expenses have increased.

·      * The City and School Dept. have worked very hard to creatively finance the schools in order to create efficiencies while improving the effectiveness of educating students, but with the vast majority of efficiencies implemented, the essential question the Supt. asks in FY16 is “What additional resources do we need as a district so that we can continue to grow and achieve the highly effective school district our students deserve and we desire?”

·      * We will need to discuss and determine whether we want what the Supt. calls a “status-quo plus” budget, or a “growth” budget. The Supt. will present the district’s draft FY16 budget on 2/24/15, and between that time and April, the Committee will discuss and debate programming, staffing, materials, our vision for the future, etc.

If you have a few minutes, please read through the documents from the 1/6/15 meeting (find them here: http://melrosecityma.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=1603&Inline=True); they are enlightening and interesting. What would you like to know about the budget? What would you like to see funded? How would you like education to evolve over the next several years for Melrose students? 

Thank you in advance for being a part of the conversation, and wishing you and your families all the best in the coming year!!