The Board of Education will hold its regular monthly meeting today at 2:00 p.m. and the Agenda with supporting documents can be found on BoardDocs here.
The topics that will be discussed in the Work Session are,
- An update on the Charter System Application and Cluster Planning by Angela Smith. The group considering the details of the implementation recently held its first meeting and Smith will present on update on the process (see presentation here).
- There will be an update on the Title I Programs and follow up on the Title I Audits (see presentation here).
Comment – As a general rule, the federal programs have been a mess for many years. Recently the department that administers the federal programs has been reassigned to the CFO’s office. There is a lot of room for improvement here and hopefully CFO Burbridge will be able to make some headway fast.
- A school improvement plan, supported by a $3.7 million three year State grant (SIG), has been underway at Douglass High School. There will be an update on the status of the program (see presentation here).
- CFO Burbridge will provide an update on the FY16 budget development (see here). Currently revenues are projected at $659.8 million – a $5.8 million increase over the FY15 revised estimate of $654 million (versus the original FY15 estimate of $657.6 million). Essentially for planning purposes, the revenues are flat with prior year budgeted amounts (see page 3 of presentation). Given the long list of priorities and the substantial cost to implement them, there will be a significant number of difficult choices to make in the upcoming budget discussions.
Additionally, enrollment is projected to increase by 875 students over FY15. Based on the data provided (which only details out a net increase of 693 students), most of the increase in enrollment is at charter schools which accounts for an increase of 793 or approximately 11% over FY15.
- CFO Burbridge will also provide the monthly financial update (see here). It appears that local tax revenues will be less than budgeted, but to a great extent the shortfall will be made up by increased QBE revenues. The expenditures are up – as was budgeted – but, it is unclear from the report if the expenditures are consistent with the increased budgeted amounts. However, General & Administration costs appear to be down over FY14 (subject to future timing differences).
Comment– I will note that while the information presented is better than in the past, but until we have a comparison of the projected FY15 spending to the FY15 Budget (which has been revised), it is difficult to tell if spending is on track with the approved or amended budget.
The JDA Corporal Punishment is being merged into the JCDA Student Behavior Code (see combined policy here). This is the final reading and will receive final approval.
The Human Resource Personnel Report (see here) shows some interesting items, as follows:
- 12 new teachers were hired and 23 teachers are leaving – 14 are resigning and 9 are retiring at the end of the year.
- One new interim principal has been named – Shaundra Fears at CS King YWLA High School.
- One new interim assistant principal has been named – Jason Trimble at Connally Elementary.
- Brian Mitchell, who previously announced his resignation as principal at Mary Lin Elementary, is on the list making it official.
- Hope-Hill Elementary assistant principal Leah Goodwin has resigned effective immediately.
- It is also interesting to note that two assistant legal counsels have resigned. This may be the start of a reduction in the Legal Department which was taken over by Glenn Brock last year at which time he promised a $1 million decrease in the cost of this operation.
There are four positions being reclassified, but it is unclear if the reclassifications will result in an increase in compensation for the functions. Comment – Remember that reclassifications and reorganizations have been the preferred method in the past for granting raises through bureaucratic means. My sense is that the new Administration will not do this, but it bears watching.
A number of contracts will also be considered and the contracts of note are as follows:
- Contracts to Provide Mechanical Engineering Services – $600k – this appears to be route maintenance related, but you should be aware that completely fixing the HVAC systems across the district has an estimated cost of $77 million. It is likely the systems will be fixed over a two-year period and be funded from the SPLOST Fund. Additionally, as a result of the immediate need to fix the systems, the building projects that have not already started are likely to get pushed back.
- Contract to Provide a Classification and Compensation Study – $135k – this study is being undertaken to assess the “pay parity” issue across the district. As a result of the pay freeze that was imposed in 2009, current employees did not receive any step raises. However, a new employee coming on board would be compensated at their experience level. This resulted in employees with similar experience being paid different amounts. The current estimate is that the “pay parity” issue will cost $12-15 million to correct the differential.
Comment – I will note that paying $135k for this study is ridiculous – if this assessment could not be done internally with a couple of people from HR and Finance – it is time to reassess the talent pool in both groups.
- Upgrade the Enterprise Resource Planning System (Lawson) – $3.0 million – this upgrade is absolutely warranted and will bring all of the system into the most recent software release (some of the components are very old).
Comment – By making this expenditure, any excuses about “bad systems” hampering progress go away. From the time the system is upgraded, any system or data integrity issues will fall squarely on the shoulders of the current administration.
- Contracts for Construction at Brandon Primary Center ($8.0 million), Long Middle School ($15.9 million) and Young Middle School ($9.3 million) –
Comment – As I have noted in the past, Operations presents a Construction Status Update on a monthly basis. However, this Report is never timely updated to reflect the changes in cost of projects. As an example, the Long Middle School project was initially budgeted at $10 million (likely a placeholder at the start of planning). However, the Board is being asked to approve a contract for $15.9 million for the project (and the Construction Status Update does not reflect the change). Operations needs to report on a far more timely basis the actual estimated costs of the projects being considered – its failure to do so on the NAHS project caused a lot of controversy that could have been avoided with timely and accurate reporting.
- Three “surplus” properties are being recommended for sale – the Butler Y Property ($350k), the Doane Street Property ($12k) and the Adair Facility ($412k).
It is likely an Executive Session will be held on matters of litigation – if decisions are reached, they will be reported out to the public.
See you all there at 2 p.m.