Special Course Application Approval
The Big Reveal...
Also, GMSD is set to receive $1.7M from Shelby County. This is based on a final adjustment to the attendance numbers for 2014-2015.
Superintendent Manuel presented a lengthy document to the board detailing his recommendations for allocation and spending of these newly acquired revenues. He stated two items would be deducted almost immediately - $30K (essentially 10%) to be paid to the Shelby County Trustee and $100K to address the nutrition budget shortfall. This shortfall was initially budgeted for a loss of $250K, but the decision to outsource to Aramark (more later in this summary) has brought that estimate down to $100K.
Start Times ($300K)
“It’s happening...This is the number one priority.” – Jason Manuel
The caveat is that the changes would not occur until the 2016-17 school year.
Mark Dely stated he’d like to see the change occur sooner. “We said last year we would change the time ‘next’ year. How many times are we going to keep saying that?” He asked if there was a reason we couldn’t make the change for 2015-16. Manuel expressed concern about the timeframe stating that he wanted to “do it right.” He recognized some people may be upset. Ken Hoover reminded them he’d said many times that the early start time was detrimental to students and felt it was hard to leave [the 7:00am start] in place for another school year, but he acknowledged there would be work required. To that end, Hoover suggested at a minimum, the district announce at a business meeting: " We are going to change start times. – Here’s our study group. – They will start work in August."
Chairman Lisa Parker chimed in at this point to say that all the board members were in favor of the change in March (JAM note - actually the meeting was February 23) and now, we have the money. Linda Fisher stated that “again and again” she said she was “not against changing start times.” Manuel said, “For me it is a number one priority. We are changing start times,” but worried about families who had already made childcare and other arrangements for this coming fall. Manuel also expressed concern about the divisiveness seen at several meetings and in the public and the misconception that those against changing start times were viewed as supporting the superintendent. He wants everyone to understand that start times ARE changing.
Fisher inquired if GMSD would have an alternative school agreement with Collierville (to offset the so-called “penalty” in the transportation contract). Manuel said yes.
The discussion concluded with Dely stating that later start times will be a great thing for our children and Hoover saying the conversation was “very exciting.”
At this point Natalie Williams complimented Manuel and his staff for providing such a detailed and thorough document for the board’s review. There was some discussion about the BEP funding and when the monies would actually be available.
(When asked later in the meeting what the rush was to allocate the funds, Manuel and Enochs responded it was due to the City of Germantown’s budget cycle. The City is slated to hold the second reading and public hearing for their FY2016 budget on Monday, June 8, and therefore requires GMSD submit their budget prior to that date.)
Educational Lanes ($150K)
Natalie Williams asked if [the district] offers a “signing” bonus. Manuel stated no but maybe they would to secure talent, particularly for hard to fill positions.
Dely stated the district needs a way to identify and reward exceptional teachers. Hoover hedged on approval saying there were a lot of pieces for discussion – How much for an advanced degree? Does it matter what type of degree (e.g. PhD in education v physics)? Manuel responded he had already done much of the work to answer those questions.
1:1 Technology ($700K)
Over the course of three years, the district has budgeted an expenditure of up to $1.3M on the initiative. This additional allocation will put GMSD on track to provide a device for every 6th-12th grade student in the district. The 1:1 initiative is not a replacement for textbooks, but is meant to provide a whole new level of learning experience.
Supervisor/Coordinator Salary Adjustments ($116K)
There was no discussion and Manuel concluded this portion stating, “We can have it all!” This is not a mix and match scenario.
Coaches/Sponsors Stipends ($40K)
Additional Expenditures ($40K)
- Full-Time Front Office Receptionist ($36K incl. benefits)
- Safety Net of 5 Teacher Salaries to Accommodate Growth ($375K) – There was some discussion as to where these classrooms would be. Manuel recommended not purchasing portables and said there was a little space at Dogwood if they put their MAPS teachers on carts.
- Additional OPEB Funding ($200K) – This is a placeholder for additional funding. It’s possible these monies could go into the Reserve Fund.
Optimizing Classrooms ($440K)
New District Office Positions
- Business Service Specialist ($52K incl. benefits) – This position would initially handle retiree benefits as well as coordinating with Kelly Services for substitute teachers. Eventually, this person would have a number of responsibilities including assisting with initiating RFP’s, bid analysis, possibly managing grant applications, assisting Facility Services, etc.
Dely questioned the need for RFP assistance since GMSD has a shared services rep for this task. Parker inquired how often Kelly Services was contacted and was advised by HR staff. It was not often, perhaps 5 or 6 times. Parker stated the district needs to be prepared as ILAs (Inter-district Local Agreements) expire. Dely agreed but wondered if this was the best use of money. Manuel replied they are allocating $1M of these funds for students so, yes.
Then Dely suggested the possibility of using some funds to develop a matching grant program for items that the district does not currently fund, e.g. band uniforms. Manuel replied this was another function the business specialist could perform.
- Foreman ($77K incl. benefits) – This position would assist Josh Cathey and serve in the field essentially as a head contractor for maintenance projects. Cathey stated he is stretched too thin with current responsibilities and needs an assistant with a tradesman and project management background. He stated this would result in some cost savings by enabling the district to manage projects and repairs in-house, citing the fire sprinkler system inspection as an item recently hired out.
- Accounts Payable/Receivable Specialist ($52K incl. benefits) – This position would assist Autumn Enochs and work with budgets, federal payments, school inventory and more, however would not be responsible for Payroll.
At this point, Superintendent Manuel concluded his presentation with mention of a summary chart of all expenditures. (JAM Note: This information was provided to the board in a packet but was not projected for the public to view.) He stated many of the items were not immediate expenditures so they will go into reserves. (He stated earlier in the meeting that the district reserve fund would increase to $4M.)
Ken Hoover cautioned the district was on the road to being top heavy. With the suggested new hires of four positions at the front office, district staff would be growing at a faster rate than the schools themselves. Manuel countered stating the district started as lean as possible, and these would be the last four staff members needed. Dely was concerned that the district is already not getting much value from shared services and now wants to bring more work in house.
Hoover went on to express concern about supervisors and district staff receiving pay raises but not seeing an across the board raise for teachers. Autumn Enochs stated the district was not required to adjust salaries but did need to adjust differentiated pay.
The entire packet outlined above will be presented at the next business meeting as a single (albeit large) budget amendment, approximating 70 pages. Hoover suggested separating the district staff additions as a different amendment to facilitate any motions to amend that part of the larger proposal. Manuel asked that if any line item amounts were changed that those dollars be put into CIP projects or teacher salaries.
But Wait, There's More!
Food for Thought
Based on a meeting with Aramark, the district anticipates a whopping 57% increase in sales for 2015-16. Hoover expressed skepticism, but Manuel stated they had similar results in Oak Ridge. The options presented by Aramark were built on the premise the district would opt out of federal programs as recently allowed by state law. Aramark provides a comprehensive program including marketing, layout, high quality and varied offerings and also catering. Williams suggested PTA and other groups may be able to avail themselves of the catering service. Manuel cited the possibility of a coffee bar that students could access before school.
Fisher commented that if they outsourced Nutrition that would be another shared service from which the district would be withdrawing. Manuel stated he would barter those costs, along with any start time penalty, with the proposal for an alternative school to be housed at HHS for expelled students.
Capital Improvement Plans
Last But Not Least...
The work session adjourned at approximately 8:37pm.