Is it possible to make sense of the School Budget? Click the link below to find out:
Bob Rovner Appeals to Voters
Hello To All My Fellow Scarborough Citizens…
First of all I would like say “thank you” to all my fellow citizens who remain interested in the financial affairs of Scarborough by following SMARTaxes, www.LookOutScarborough.com and Concerned Taxpayers of Scarborough (on Facebook)…. We all very much appreciate your input, interest and support throughout the year.
This next school referendum vote that is coming up on July 7th is critical for all of us. We, the citizens of Scarborough are still faced with a 6.8% increase in the school budget which when coupled with the municipal side once again brings our annual overall budget increase to just under 5% … This is on top of, since 2011, year after year, through 2015, the already accumulated 28.8% tax increase.
When is this going to stop?
We, the citizens of Scarborough, together, are the only ones who can bring sanity to the financial structure of our community…. We seem to be the only ones who have the best interest of all Scarborough residents at heart and it is up to us to let The Council and Town Manager know that we are unhappy with the way they have been handling their fiduciary responsibilities… At this time, the only way we can get this point across, and have our tax increase brought down below 4% (or lower) is to ……
VOTE NO / TOO HIGH
Please keep in mind that is very important to mark your ballot TOO HIGH in the comments portion of your ballot….. This is the criteria The Council will be looking at when they to define the public’s vote.
Thanks again for doing your part to help keep Scarborough taxes down as low as possible,
PS: here are a couple things the town and the boe does not want to talk about…
**within the near future, the boe will bring forward a plan to renovate the
primary schools, as well as the middle school, to the tune of costing the
taxpayers of Scarborough $15-20 million
**within the near future, the town will bring forward a construction plan for a
new public safety building… this will cost Scarborough taxpayers about $10-15- million.
**the Town of Scarborough currently has $100-million in debt.
The discussion around the school budget continues to refer to cuts. THE SCHOOL BUDGET IS NOT BEING CUT! The request for a school budget increase has been reduced from 8.1% to 6.8%, still an unsustainable increase which should be rejected as too high. Taxpayers should be reminded that $1.1 million in lost state revenues was already made up by Scarborough taxpayers with the infusion of $675,000 from reserves, $225,000 of which was from Town reserves. For Mrs. Beeley to continue to talk about this “loss” to the schools in the way she does is not only disingenuous, it is not accurate.
Ms. Beeley states in her release that, “The school funding formula is not based on personal income. It is based largely on property valuation and school enrollment trends, which for Scarborough is a slight shift downward.” Again not accurate. While property values rise and school enrollment declines, as it has in Scarborough, the amount of State aid is adversely impacted. The school budget grows while the number of students declined.
Why are only services that impact students been targeted for reduction? Don’t let the scare tactics used by the School Board fool you. Remember there is another “off budget” item in the purchase of the laptops that will add another $300,000 to the Town’s debt for next year. Over the next 3-4 years the laptop initiative will be close to $2M dollars for taxpayer’s money. It is all about priorities. The school board does not have its priorities straight.
School Superintendent pushes back on Town Council
6.8% increase not enough to operate without cutting programs claims Entwistle
This letter from School Superintendent George Entwistle was recently sent to Scarborough parents and staff
Budget Update from the Superintendent
June 22, 2015
Dear Scarborough Parents and Staff-
At the Town Council meeting last night (Wednesday, June 17, 2015), it was acknowledged that the School Board had produced a no-frills, level services, school budget for 2015-2016. Unfortunately, that budget was defeated in the June 9th referendum. The Town Council’s response to the vote was to reduce next year’s operating budget by an additional $500,000 (they had previously reduced the budget by $90,000).
The public heard from Council Members on the 17th that the School Board and School Department should be able to find efficiencies that will allow us to make this reduction of $500,000 without impacting existing services and programs for students. It is important for our staff and parents to know that this will not be the case.
In preparing data for the School Board to consider in advance of what was anticipated to be a less devastating reduction from the Town Council, school leaders were able to identify potential reductions amounting to approximately $250,000. Roughly $200,000 of these reductions, however, would depend upon a fundamental shift in established budgeting practice related to planning for a small amount of fund surplus to accrue during the budget year (to serve as a cushion for any unanticipated expense(s). This change in practice, of course, is not without risk and would create greater dependency on dipping into the Town’s undesignated surplus in the case of an emergency expense. Another $50,000 was identified as potential savings to be generated by a shared-services agreement with Cape Elizabeth for our new Director of School Nutrition.
The remaining $250,000 balance (of the total $500,000 reduction), quite frankly, cannot be accomplished without the loss of programs. While we will protect academic resources that are essential to our core mission of delivering quality K-12 teaching and learning for the children of our community, we will, at the same time, be forced to eliminate other valuable activities and services that are not part of that core. The School Board will work closely with School Leaders to accomplish these reductions in the most student-centered manner.
Despite the arrival of the last day of school for the 2014-2015 school year, I encourage you to stay tuned to these very important budget deliberations. Public meetings will be posted on the school’s webpage (www.scarboroughschools.org). The Town Council will finalize its reduction of the school budget at a public hearing on June 24th (7:00 PM) in Town Hall.
Dr. George Entwistle, Superintendent
From the Letters to the Editor in the Scarborough Leader:
From the Current’s editorial page…..What does the Scarborough Current think about the school budget proposed by the Board of Education and endorsed by the Town Council? Read this excerpt from their editorial page to find out.
Thumbs DOWN to the Scarborough Town Council and School Board for foisting upon taxpayers a budget that increases total spending by about 6 percent. Here’s hoping all Scarborough homeowners also enjoy a 6 percent wage increase to help pay their tax bill. Either that or they should reject the proposal at the polls June 9 and force their leaders to come up with a proposal more in line with reality.
To read the full editorial of thumbs up and thumbs down in the latest edition of the Current, click the link below:
Please read Annalee Rosenblatt’s letter to the editor providing information on the often quoted “per pupil costs”.
The information provided by the School Board on per pupil costs continually makes Scarborough look under funded and may be somewhat deceptive. We do not claim it is inaccurate, but meant to deflect and confuse the taxpayers of Scarborough. We decided to take a closer look at the per pupil cost statistic to find out what it really means. We started by meeting with Sawin Millet, former Commissioner of Education, Executive Director of Maine School Management Association and former Commissioner of Finance for the State of Maine, a person recognized far and wide for his expertise, to help us better understand this concept. It is complex. As a result of that meeting and a follow up question to Mr. Millett, we were referred to Susan Beaudoin, Director of School Finance and Operations for the Department of Education. We ask the following questions. When comparing per pupil expenditures among school districts can one assume the same costs are included in arriving at that figure? Is there a common WEB site one can go to go get an apples to apples comparison?
The answer to those two questions were very straight forward, no double speak that you seem to get from the School Board. The Resident Expenditures by Budget Categories is based on all general fund expenditure and revenues annually reported by each School Administrative Union to the State Department of Education separated into the statutorily required eleven budget categories…For the Per-Pupil Expenditure, the Resident Expenditures are divided by the Resident Pupil count…”
Ms. Beaudoin went on to note, “For the best comparison, you should choose those units with similar number of students and operates schools with similar grade spans. For Scarborough, they have a little over 3100 students and operate schools for kindergarten through grade 12. Similar size school units would be Sanford, South Portland, RSU 57/SAD57 (Massabesic). RSU 60/SAD 60 (Noble), RSU 10 (Mountain Valley), RSU 14 (Windham), and RSU 18. (Messalonskee)” Presumably, this is the cohort the Director of Finance for the Department of Education would use when making per pupil expenditure comparison.
The School Board has selected as the cohort they use to report per pupil expenditures as Cape Elizabeth, RSU 5 (Freeport), Yarmouth, Falmouth, Kennebunk, Gorham, South Portland, Westbrook, RSU 14 (Windham), Cumberland, and perhaps a few others we missed when listed at the public forum.
First of all we found that many people did not know what cohort meant. What is a cohort? A cohort is a like group used for medical studies such as people in their 50’s or an educational study such as all 2nd grade math students. It can be a group of people used in a study who have the same social class in common.
The cohort suggested by the Department of Education takes into account two important factors in the per pupil calculation, number of students and type of school organization, (district who have kindergarten to 12 educational offerings). One of several factors in the declining state aid to Scarborough is the fact the student population is declining therefore, it seems to SMARTaxes this is an important part of any cohort selected. What is the criteria for the School Board’s cohort?
If you are influenced by the data offered by the School Board in terms of per pupil expenditure, we are urging citizens to take time to get the facts and decide for themselves what the appropriate cohort for comparison purposes is. We are not suggesting you agree with us, only that you get your own facts, do your own research and decide for yourself. You can check for yourself for per-pupil expenditures by the required eleven budget categories at http://www.maine.gov/education/data/indicators/indicators.html and the directory of school units at http://www.maine.gov/doe/schools/directories.html
We are being asked to make a bigger and bigger “investment” in our schools every year. Take the care to research the value of this investment as you would any other investment you make. The debt service for the Wentworth School, the cost of ground and field maintenance, or the cost of the DARE program is not in the Scarborough Schools per pupil cost figures. What will they be if and when these are added? What else is not reflected in the school budget that influences per pupil costs in other districts? Are these costs in the school district budgets of the cohort schools, whichever cohort you believe is correct?
As the Superintendent said at the public forum, the only person who understands the education funding formula is the person who wrote it. The School Board advocates for education, not residents, not taxpayers, not senior citizens, not the unemployed or underemployed, not for struggling young families. Be an informed voter. Be you own advocate. Go to scarboroughtaxes.com to see some additional comparisons.
Annalee Rosenblatt, SMARTaxes
|2013/2014 Per Pupil Costs Scarborough vs. Suggested State Department of Education Cohorts and Others|
|SAU ID||School||SAU Name||Regular Instruction||Special Education Instruction||Career and Technical Instruction||Other Instruction||Student and Staff Support||System Administration||School Administration||Transportation (to include buses)||Operations and Maintenance||Debt Service||All Other||Total||Resident Pupil Count|
|1251||Massabesic||RSU 57/MSAD 57||$4,262.58||$1,747.67||$13.87||$207.64||$921.66||$227.66||$581.85||$917.26||$1,185.67||$678.95||$32.98||$10,777.78||3,183|
|1254||Noble||RSU 60/MSAD 60||$4,824.98||$1,865.65||$71.16||$229.27||$1,003.28||$303.34||$534.00||$777.41||$1,373.52||$727.84||$34.92||$11,745.38||3,007|
|3159||Mountain Valley||RSU 10||$4,909.22||$2,232.95||$683.88||$416.82||$1,092.13||$275.49||$650.40||$681.04||$1,616.99||$536.34||$32.55||$13,127.83||2,704|
|1029||Cape Elizabeth||Cape Elizabeth||$5,973.74||$1,836.16||$27.84||$400.66||$1,248.86||$427.89||$637.33||$404.89||$1,468.82||$769.77||$0.00||$13,195.95||1,674|
|1155||South Portland||South Portland||$5,370.39||$2,473.75||$82.90||$237.32||$1,090.34||$402.00||$696.04||$473.50||$1,349.85||$1,361.70||$124.70||$13,662.49||3,109|
|1245||Cumberland||RSU 51/MSAD 51||$6,280.75||$2,489.91||$87.26||$313.99||$1,094.68||$400.11||$600.84||$703.81||$1,566.55||$1,466.18||$0.00||$15,004.06||2,042|