APS – Budget Committee & Special Legislative Meeting Today at 3PM – FY14 Budget Must Be Passed

The Budget Committee of the Board will meet today at 3PM to consider additional proposals to the FY14 Preliminary Budget. Time has run out and the FY14 Preliminary Budget must be passed today to meet the statutory deadlines. As a result, the full Board is also scheduled to meet today at 5PM to pass the Budget.

In the last Committee meeting, the Administration was tasked with providing the detailed cost of reducing the “class size waiver” to the DOE maximum and to propose cuts that would compensate for the increased cost of teachers. It was clear that the Administration was a bit reluctant to provide this information and their only solution was to dip further into the General Fund reserve. It will be interesting to see what, if any, other proposals they make today. However, time is on the Administration’s side as the Budget has to be passed today.

In the event that the Administration’s only solution to the issue is to dip further into the General Reserve fund balance – which is not prudent – my recommendation would be to pass the Budget “as is” with the inclusion of the recommended cuts so far presented. Additionally, the Board should pass an  amendment to the resolution to include specific instructions that between now and final passage of the Budget on June 10, the Administration provide for an additional $7.5 million in cost cuts to the School Administration, General Administration and Facilities and that those funds be spent on teachers. Further, the Board should limit the “class size waiver” to a maximum of three over the DOE maximum.

This amendment allows the Board to meet the statutory deadlines, allows for a Budget to be published that accurately presents the expenditures on Direct Instruction and provides for cuts in other Divisions that can be detailed out in advance of final passage.

If the “class size” issue is important to you, let the Board members know today in advance of the meeting. My sense is that there are four strong votes for limiting the class size waiver – a fifth vote is needed to place the system on a path to reducing class size.

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