Superintendent Talks Facility Plans with Budget Committee

In addition to their usual business, the Budget Committee invited School Superintendent Scott Laliberte to provide an update on the FY2018 budget and planning for the future.  With FY2018 ending at the end of June, Laliberte shared that since there were no unexpected expenses like excessive snow removal, actual spending should come in roughly as planned.

Looking ahead, the School District is in the early stages of a Facility Study to assess needs for future years. Laliberte noted that they would like to use a somewhat different approach than has been done in the past.  Until now, facility planning was almost entirely based on fire codes allowing for a certain number of students in a building with the assumption that students were in traditional classrooms.

Going forward, the School District is developing a model that includes the old method, but also factors in the needs of programs that do not fit the traditional classroom model.  Examples of these programs include computer labs, arts instruction, and smaller areas for special education.

The plan is to present the new model to the School Board this Fall for their approval and use it in the next budgeting and planning cycle.  Laliberte stressed that this model would allow the School Board to make tradeoffs in a clearer way.  He also looks forward to public input on the model.

Laliberte mentioned that space concerns are most acute at Moose Hill Kindergarten, so that school would get most of the initial focus in facility planning. He provided some insight on the challenge of forecasting kindergarten enrollment and some of the things the district is doing to improve the forecast.

The centerpiece of the forecast is a formula that estimates enrollment based on the birth rate in town. The model assumes that new births lead to kindergarten enrollment five years hence. The district compares the number of births five years ago to the current year enrollment to determine the approximate ratio of births to future enrollment.  By looking at data over the years, this model predicts 240 new students for every 150 births five years ago.

Even with the model, enrollment can be unpredictable due to factors like new high-density housing and housing turnover in town as people without school aged kids sell their houses to newcomers with children.

To try to account for this uncertainty, the District works closely with the Town to understand home sale transactions. They also started including a flyer that management companies at apartment and condo complexes can hand out to new renters urging them to reach out to the District if they may have kids to enroll in the future.

Laliberte also shared that North School is getting close to full, with only one spare classroom available.  He also said that across the district it is getting to the point that adaptable space will soon be gone. Adaptable space examples include using libraries, conference rooms and teacher workrooms as classroom instructional space.

The Budget Committee asked when the School District offices would move to their new location on Kitty Hawk Drive.  Laliberte said the move would happen during the week of July 4.  He also expressed gratitude to the town for supporting the move to a location that provides a healthy work environment.

In other business, the Budget Committee reviewed a first draft of new guidelines for allocating the town’s charitable budget to organizations that serve Londonderry residents.  The hope is that the guidelines will provide a more structured, rigorous process.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter