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, May 6, 2015

School Committee Meeting of 5/5

 Last night, the Committee’s task was to deliberate and vote on the FY16 budget and fees.

We approved the fees (without change to those charged in FY15) as noted here: 
- MHS Athletics: from 4/7 discussion 
 - Elementary Music Fees: from 4/7 discussion
 - MHS Transcript and Photography Class Fees: from 3/31 discussion

Supt. Taymore spoke to her balanced budget recommendation (see her memo at the bottom of this document: http://tinyurl.com/owz49vo). To our current staff, it adds two kindergarten teachers (at Lincoln and Roosevelt), a 4th grade teacher (at Winthrop), a 5th grade teacher (at Lincoln), and an Academic Interventionist at the Horace Mann School (where Title I funds that had paid for this academic support position were not granted for the coming year by the federal government). In order to add these positions, we were in a negative financial position of $329K and made cuts to a variety of line items. Supt. Taymore indicated that she favors budgeting conservatively, but has had to employ so much rainy-day type funding that she knows she has very little wiggle room if there is unexpected expense and this is cause for concern.

We voted salary and non-salary items as two distinct parts of the balanced budget for FY16 for a total amount of $28,125,696. (It can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/nubbqw9). We also voted to draft and send a summary memo to the Board of Aldermen that recommends this budget. In her memo, Supt. Taymore indicated: “At this point in the school year, the balanced budget appears to enable us to preserve the current teaching level we have and add prioritized classroom and direct service positions for next year.”

Supt. Taymore then spoke the growth budget, that includes the items she could not fund in the balanced budget, including 12.5 educators (across all levels and at Administration); and increases in technology (software and licenses), special education, curriculum materials, and professional development totaling $1.065M. The Committee voted that “Should money become available, it is recommended for use as noted in the growth budget, as those items represent the priorities considered necessary for the growth and improvement of teaching and learning in the Melrose Public Schools.”

We finished our meeting with an Executive Session to approve prior Executive Session minutes and hear about on-going negotiations. When we came out of Executive Session, it was reported that we had approved a three-year contract with our special education transportation drivers.

Next meeting is Tuesday, May 12th in the Aldermanic Chamber at 7:00. We plan to discuss summer school, summer enrichment, and summer expectations; the FY14 Audit Report; the 2016 school calendar; election of next year’s student representatives; the ECC and Kindergarten placement report; Committee goals for the coming year; and liaison reports.