|School budget priorities examined|
|Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt|
Budget priorities from the school district’s budget and facilities committee will lead the Holyoke School Board into their work with budget parameters for the 2011-12 school year.
Troy Mayfield reported for the budget and facilities committee at the April 5 school board meeting.
The coming year’s budget will reflect more finetuning from last year, said Mayfield. The committee’s first statement notes the district budget should reflect the five-year goals outlined in Destination 2016.
Taking care of employees with salary and benefits is a top priority. The committee recommends maintaining the district norm for class size and to utilize natural attrition when possible to protect cuts to the classroom and employees.
Mayfield reported the district should continue to invest in capital projects and to maintain its general fund commitment to technology so the mill levy override money for technology can help the district catch up.
Ending fund balance money should be used during this time of cuts in K-12 funding at the state level, however the district should maintain an ending fund balance of no less than $1.2 million.
Mayfield noted a priority for the district to strive to not use more than one-third of the available ending fund balance as revenue in 2011-12.
For instance, if the district ends the year with $1.5 million in reserves, the difference between that and the $1.2 million floor for reserves is $300,000. The budget committee recommends using only one-third of that for revenue in the next year’s budget.
The final recommendation was for the district to intensify efforts to recruit new students and to continously work to retain current students.
In board discussion of the priorities, Kim Killin pointed out the priorities are set well. Since no one has a crystal ball, there may need to be adjustments along the way.
Dan Kafka added it will be an interesting task to take care of employee benefits and salaraies, to retain the $1.2 million in reserves and to use only one-third of the available ending fund balance as revenue.
He added he’s concerned with giving bonuses every year instead of a more permanent fix for staff compensation.
On the subject of recruiting and retaining students, Kris Camblin said it doesn’t hurt to keep talking with those who could be enrolled in the district.
If there’s a theme for why students have left, perhaps it can be addressed so people don’t leave in the future, added Principal Kyle Stumpf.
Post secondary/concurrent enrollment approved
First reading of a policy on post secondary/concurrent enrollment was approved at last week’s board meeting.
Principal Susan Ortner noted the reason for requirements for enrollment in such classes is because they want students to be successful.
Concern had been raised for the use of CSAP scores to determine eligibility for post secondary class enrollment.
She said the policy notes if a student has a deficit score on either CSAP or ACT tests, they have the option to take the Accuplacer test to qualify.
Performance accreditation plans approved
Performance accreditation plans for Holyoke Elementary and Holyoke High School were passed last week.
Stumpf and Ortner reported on highlights, trends, root causes and action plans for the two schools.
Using Every Child a Writer in K-6 is part of the elementary school action plan.
Ortner cited action plans to improve paragraph writing, vocabulary deficits and time needed for critical thinking.
She said they encourage students to take risks academically and to focus on the learning.
The junior high accreditation plan was filed with the turn-around plan, and Ortner noted feedback from that is positive.
School wellness policy reviewed
A new school wellness committee has met monthly this year to review a school wellness policy.
“We feel we have a policy now that gives us some room to implement as we want to in Holyoke,” said board member Linda Jelden.
Three goals to be adopted by the board for the policy follow:
—To provide a comprehensive learning environment for developing and practicing lifelong wellness behaviors.
—To support and promote proper dietary habits contributing to students’ health status and academic performance.
—To provide more opportunities for students to engage in physical activity.