As enrollment continues to decline, the Londonderry School District continues to “right-size” staff, with a proposed reduction of three certified staff positions in Fiscal Year 2017.
Presenting the proposed FY17 budget at the School Board’s Nov. 24 meeting, Superintendent Nate Greenberg said a thorough review of staffing and program needs concluded with the decision to eliminate in the proposed $70.9 million operating budget two elementary teaching positions (one at Matthew Thornton and one position at South), as well as a half full-time equivalent position at the middle school and two full-time equivalent positions at the high school.
“Our goal was to maintain educationally viable class sizes and continue to provide program options and services at all levels, and address areas of need,” Greenberg said.
The proposed General Fund operating budget of $70.9 million represents a 2.8 percent increase over FY16, or an increase of $1.9 million.
The FY17 proposed budget is $56,345 above the default budget, and the tax rate impact of the general fund budget is 78 cents, or $13.58.
The net savings of eliminating the three certified positions totals $187,695. Greenberg noted that since FY06, the net reduction in certified staff totals 65.2 positions, or one position for every 20.5 student drop in enrollment.
During the same period of time, the District has reduced non-certified positions the equivalent of 85 full-time equivalents, or one position for every 15.7 student drop in enrollment.
The total net reduction of staff from FY06 to FY17 IS 149.4 full-time equivalents, one positions for every 8.9 student drop in enrollment, or a 20 percent net reduction in staff corresponding to a projected 24 percent reduction in students, according to Greenberg.
In addition to the reduction in positions, the District’s proposed FY17 budget includes the addition of a part-time special education teacher, six special education assistant hours, one 504 case manager position at the high school and stipends for elementary co-curricular Drama and Student Council advisors.
Greenberg said investing in the District’s special education programs is a priority because “the total cost avoidance of in-house special education programs between FY06 and FY17 is over $68 million, including next year’s cost avoidance of $7.3 million.”
Included in the proposed FY17 budget package are three warrant articles with a total impact of $1.2 million.
The warrant articles include a Maintenance Trust Fund article for $500,000, a technology infrastructure article for $600,000, and an equipment capital reserve of $100,000.
Adding the total value of all the warrant articles with the proposed budget would increase the FY17 budget to $72.1 million, representing a $2.6 million increase over the FY16 budget, and a tax rate impact of 94 cents.
Of the more significant cost impacts to the District’s budget for FY17 is the continued absorption of downshifting costs from the State.
Greenberg said the District will see in FY17 a drop in Adequacy Aid of $584,327. Since FY13, the estimated reduction in adequacy funds is projected to be $3.5 million.
“To offset the continued drop in adequacy revenue, we are pursuing an aggressive initiative to generate tuition revenue,” Greenberg said. “This year, we were able to generate $929,164, a $729,930 increase over FY13, and we have estimated conservatively tuition revenue of $1.2 million for FY17, with an increase of $297,820 over FY16, and a $1 million increase over FY13.”
Tuition revenue is projected to generate a 33-cent tax offset.
“What should also not be lost is the significant continuing effort by the District in cost savings/ avoidance and revenue-generating initiatives for FY17, especially in special education, energy and IT (information technology,” Greenberg told the Board. “Those three areas will generate a cost avoidance of $7.9 million; proposed staffing adjustments will net a savings of $187,695 and tuitions will generate revenue of $1.2 million, for a total of $9.3 million, the equivalent value of $2.55 offset on the tax rate.”
The District’s proposed FY17 budget is based on a Strategic Plan featuring goals, priorities and objectives to ensure all students demonstrate college and career readiness upon graduation; and to continue to increase the District’s two- and four-year college acceptance rate, with the goal of achieving 95 percent acceptance by 2020.
“We believe the proposed budget for FY17 is true to the core tenets of our Strategic Plan, will move us in a positive direction towards our Career and College Ready Goals, is financially prudent given the present state of the economy and District revenues, allows for continued implementation of initiatives, and protects the investment in our schools. We recognize that to accomplish what we and the community expects of our schools, we have to remain flexible, plan ahead and maximize the use of our resources,” Greenberg said, concluding his budget presentation. “However, the quality of the administration, faculty and staff, along with the guidance of the School Board and the continued support of the community, will enable us to continue to fulfill our motto: ‘Giving Wings to Children’s Dreams.’”
The proposed FY17 budget and Superintendent’s message to the community is available for viewing on the District’s website at www.londonderry.org, or in the School District office.
The School Board’s next budget workshop is scheduled on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.