Dec 10, 2015

Budget Committee Minutes Dec 10, 2015

Budget Committee: Steve Kelley, Diane Cummings, Dann, Ron Bolt, Evan Nelson, Rudy Gelsi, Muffy Copenhaver, Eddy Moore, Carolyn Murro, and George Kirk
School Board: Ann Wiggett (Chair), Barbara Astone (Vice Chair), Leslie Robbins, Greg Cook, and Millie Nelson.
SAU 84: David Bickford (Superintendent), Joanne Melanson (HS/MS Principal), Alan Smith (Vocational Director), Rick Bidgood (Elementary School Principal), Kelly Noland (Director of Student Services), Adam Reitsma (Director of Technology), Tom Mangels (Business Administrator)
Media: Bob O’Connor, LATV
School Presentation:
Overview – Presented by Superintendent David Bickford
David indicated that the budget had been looked at three different ways: (1) for program enhancements in staff, programs, and technology; (2) for maintenance of effort, both current and considering inflation; and (3) for level funding (same dollar amounts as last year). Mentioned was made of an informal meeting with Steve Kelley and Diane Cummings when the issues of high health care costs, stipends, food services, and overall goals were emphasized. Other considerations in drafting the 2016-17 budgets were safety matters and the condition of the facilities. David stated that all of these inputs and emphases were considered in the budgets about to be presented.
All budgets are still in draft form. Also pending are the results of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiation with the professional staff, which will be a separate warrant article on the SAU ballot at Town Meeting.
High School/Middle School – Presented by Principal Joanne Melanson
Joanne indicated that she had worked with staff on a line-by-line review. Adjustments were made to field trips (reduced) and text books (increased as new chemistry books are needed). This proposed budget is $5,776,937, which is $180,403 more than the 2015-16 approved budget.
Special Education/Academy – Presented by Director Kelly Noland
Kelly is responsible for all special education, the Littleton Academy, psychological services, and all therapies (occupational, physical, etc.). This budget is proposed at $3,081,912, which is an increase of $158,617 more than the 2015-16 approved budget.
Currently there are 124 students placed into this program, with 3 students placed out of district at the cost of about $127K. Kelly has 11 case managers and various other employees, and no staff increases are proposed. She indicated that there was a balance of about $148K in the Reserve Fund should unanticipated needs arise.
Career Technical Center – Presented by Direction Alan Smith
Al stated that his goal was level funding, but added that he has no control over most of his budget. There are about 95 Littleton students enrolled and 98 come to the CTC from sending schools. Most classes are geared for 11th and 12th graders, but there are some middle school classes and even some introductory courses for elementary school students. Enrollment is linked heavily to class sizes; currently there are 46 seniors and 55 juniors. Students can opt to attend post-graduation if they want to continue this education. There is an advisory panel that closely watches how each program is doing. This proposed budget is $1,160,648, which is $51,967 more than the 2015-16 approved budget.
David added that there should be more emphasis on making certain students “career ready” as opposed to “college ready”, and there are great opportunities to partner with local businesses and the hospital.
Technology – Presented by Director Adam Reitsma
The scope of Adam’s responsibility includes administrative support, vendors, software, web connections, and network administration. There is a sizable increase to the “repair equipment” line. The SAU is at the end of a lease and have issued an RFP that will now include printers as well as copiers. Teacher laptop computers, provided by the SAU, are replaced about once every five years. Rudy asked why the teachers did not buy their own computers. Adam explained that these computers must be standardized and synched to the student computers. Computer usage can be monitored when necessary. Federal rebates to the tune of about $20K annually are not reflected in this portion of the budget. This proposed budget of $430,671 is an increase of $11,047 compared to 2015-16.
Elementary School – Presented by Principal Rick Bidgood
Rick began by stated that his official student count is 372 (based on attendance on October 1st), but as of today he actually has 384 (federal aid is based on the “official” count, not the actual/current count). Last year there were 402 in the elementary school. Fifty percent of these students are on the free or reduced lunch program. There are 15% on IEP (Individualized Education Program) and 9% on 504 plans (physical disability). There are about 80 employees, including 25 regular teachers. The proposed budget of $6,098,763 is an increase of $534,272 over last year’s approved budget.
Rick’s #1 goal is to improve the comprehension and integration of technology. This responds to a new requirement to treat technology as a new literacy. Earlier this year a vision and mission statement was created and work has been started on scoping and sequencing, with a plan to commence next year. Goal #2 is to hold capital improvements to a minimum. Other goals include staff development related to science standards and to maintain the current level of service.
Default Budget – Presented by Tom Mangels
Tom pointed out the $374K increase in health insurance premiums, which is a 15.3% hike. This is a much higher increase than the Town is experiencing, but the two entities are in difference insurance pools. The total increase over 2015-16 is $222,300, or about 1.3%.
Miscellaneous Discussion:
David assured all that the SAU and School Board were well aware of the Budget Committee’s concern about the high cost of health insurance. He explained that he would be closely watching the effects of the Affordable Care Act, which requires that costs not exceed 9% of a given household income.
In a recent meeting, Representative Erin Hennessey indicated that she did not expect to see the return of state building aid in the next 10 years.
Dann asked if teachers would forego pay raises.
Next Meetings: 17 December, 4:00 PM (Town) and 5:30 PM (School), LHS Music Room
Ron Bolt, Secretary