Brewer School Department Budget Process

April 13, 2016

Dear Brewer Community,

As I sit this afternoon at my desk reflecting on our week together, I wanted to take a moment and update everyone on our next steps through the budget process.  Our faculty members were recently notified of potential layoffs due to a decline in enrollment over the last ten years, a reduction in state subsidy, an increase to salaries and benefits and the fiscal responsibility we have to the tax payers of Brewer.  Many of you were able to attend my presentation to the faculty and many of you attended the school committee meeting on April 11th.  In an attempt to be transparent, I will post my presentation below for the community to understand why we are in need to “right size” our school department.  It is always difficult to hear about a reduction in force as we care deeply about the teachers that have helped our children gain an education, offer them guidance on and off the fields, and assist in life challenges.  To help ease this situation, the school department has offered a retirement incentive to those that are eligible to honor the work of our veteran teachers but also perhaps save some of our new teachers from losing their positions.  Please remember that when we have a reduction in force, the school department needs to follow the steps outlined in the teacher’s contract.

As we formed our budget, we had four goals in mind.  They were:

  1.  Create an educational spending plan centered around our students that prepares them for college, career and life.
  2.  A budget that is fiscally responsible to our Brewer taxpayers.
  3.  Maintain:
    1. Our academic programs aligned to our vision and mission
    2. Our athletic and club activities
    3. Opportunities in the arts and music
    4. Appropriate staffing and class sizes
  4. Keep up with facility maintenance and improvements

We also had some guiding questions in this process that we used to help us make difficult decisions.  Those questions were:

  1. What is in the best interest of our students?
  2. What is needed to continually pursue our mission of helping all students realize their full potential through high quality educational experiences that are personalized, differentiated and meaningful?
  3. What is needed to move forward on our five-year strategic plan?
  4. What is fiscally responsible to the tax payers of Brewer?

Through this thorough process, we looked at every corner of the budget.  We looked at patterns of expenditures and revenues.  We analyzed student projections, tuition students, reviewed course sign ups, class sizes, retirements, certification, insurance rates, and teacher requests.  However after building our first draft of our budget, we found ourselves with a revenue shortfall of 1.4 million dollars.  We needed to look deeper into what was happening in Brewer.  By looking at how the state funds our school district and our declining enrollments due to population declining in our city over the last ten years, we simply could not run our schools like we did in 2006.  We analyzed every program and found that we could offer the SAME educational programs with FEWER teachers.  While our student enrollment had declined by 300 students in the last ten years, our teacher numbers had declined by 6 and many of these were due to programs ending like co-op and industrial arts.

So what does this budget include?  A lot of wonderful items for our teachers and students.  It includes increased professional development for our faculty to help move our proficiency based educational system forward where students have choices in how they demonstrate their learning.  It includes a K-12 systemic curriculum that will help guide the work and instructional practices for our faculty.  It includes an informational data system to help our teachers group/regroup students based on their individual needs.  It also contains technology implementation for our younger students so that every classroom in BCS will be able to have a technology center.  It includes many of the supplies that teachers requested.  It includes access to online materials, purchasing of books, and new science supplies for K-12.  You may ask how can we afford all of this?  It’s simple.  This budget was built from the ground up refocusing our tax dollars on the true needs of our teachers and students.  This part of the budget is exciting.

So while we may have to say good-bye to some of our beloved teachers, the most difficult part of this budget, we are committed to helping them find new positions.  We are hopeful the retirement incentive will help in this process and know that next month will show a great deal of movement in our budget.  We are also still looking at other cost saving measures as well.

I am attaching a few items for you to look at and welcome any questions you may have. I look forward to providing the best educational system for our children.  They deserve it!

 

 

Sincerely,

Cheri Towle

Brewer Superintendent of Schools

Budget Presentation  Click here

Budget Summary Click here

Budget Explanation Click here

Expenditure Reductions Click here

 

 

 

 

 

April Superintendent’s Report

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Regular Meeting

6:00PM, Monday, April 11, 2016

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

  1.    March Recognitions  Besides the many student recognitions at the beginning of our meeting, I wanted to recognize the following groups and their accomplishments in March:
    1. 3rd Graders Lobbying for the Crustacean Bill to become a Law
    2. Orange Chaos had an amazing district competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute March 12th.  The team competed against 40 other teams from around the New England area, finishing 2 days of qualifying matches in 1st place! During the finals round, Orange Chaos was team captain of the 1st place alliance and was eliminated in the semi-finals.   The team was awardedExcellence in Engineering by the judging panel. This award celebrates elegant and advantageous machine features. Our robot scored the most high goals of the entire competition, had available a variety of autonomous programs for the robot to cross opponents’ defenses in the first 20 sec of play and was the first of only two robots to scale the castle wall. The judges recognized that our robot could tackle all aspects of the 2016 FRC Stronghold Challenge and looked amazing.  There next competition is Pine Tree on April 8th and 9th in Lewiston.
    3. Storybird Project: Michelle Macdonald and her creative writing students were awarded a $4000 grant by the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation to help them carry out their 1st grade personal story writing project for the next four years. (Letter enclosed).
    4. On Saturday, March 19, the Brewer Community School Jazz Band dazzled the adjudicators and audience at the MMEA State Middle School Jazz Festival at Nokomis HS, receiving a gold award and first place in the State for Division 2!  In addition, for her outstanding work on trumpet and flugelhorn, seventh grader Hanna S. was awarded one of 5 individual outstanding musicianship trophies.  Soloists Matt M. on trombone, Zoe V. on tenor sax and bass, Hanna S. on trumpet and flugelhorn and Adrienne F. on trumpet received outstanding musicianship certificates for their solos.  Judges comments included “most high school bands don’t play this well” and “fantastic job by all”.  The large audience in the Nokomis gym gave the band a standing ovation after their performance and word spread quickly throughout the festival about how well Brewer had performed.
    5. All that Jazz: For those that were in attendance at the All That Jazz Event at Peakes Auditorium on March 29th, you were truly treated to a great show by several area schools, but our jazz ensemble was the headliner. From the time we took the stage to begin setting up through the last note, the audience was engaged, entertained, and educated by our students and our performance. Peter Hilyard and Christopher Harris were the crowd favorites from an intense opening drum solo to some great trumpet playing. Several other soloists including Siera Desjardins, Nate Williams, Ben Byorak, Jon Donnelly, Paul Fortier, and Cam Billings also added to the level of excitement. When all was said and done, Brewer received the only standing ovation and the judges’ choice award. Outstanding work by our student-musicians!
    6. Key Club: I just wanted to share that the Brewer Key Club is pleased to be one of the clubs featured in quarters YanKey, the New England Key Club District Magazine.  This goes out to every Key Club in New England and Bermuda. This include over 175 clubs and 6,500 fellow Key   Irene Neal, our editor, submitted the article to the district.  She did a wonderful job.Here is the link to the publication: http://nedkeyclub.homestead.com/YanKey/YanKey-January-2016.pdf  Please take a look.  Her article is on Page 7.
    7. JMG students competed in the JMG Career Development Conference which was featured on the local news. We had a number of award winners at the competition.  They are:

3rd place – Group Challenge (had to create a mechanism to get across a finish line using a small motor, one battery, toothbrushes, tape, and a tongue depressor): Macey Sherburne, Marcus Nash, Nate Malo

2nd place – Job Application packets (resumes, job application, cover letter, and short answer questions): Jolene Hughes, Taylor Gamblin

1st place – Rat Race (get all members of a team through a puzzle without talking): Macey Sherburne, Nate Malo, Jolene Hughes, Marcus Nash, Mike McRae

1st place – Public Speaking (what JMG means to me): Sadie Ellis (received standing ovation)

1st place – College Admissions Interview (interview with college admissions representative): Macey Sherburne (not only did she win for our division, she won for the ENTIRE competition, beating out the next closest competitor by a landslide, yes, a landslide).

1st place – Marketplace (create a display representing the goals of JMG and present to a panel of judges, answering questions): Sadie Ellis, Taylor Gamblin

  1. League of Innovative Schools Conference  On March 17th and 18th, I traveled with Mr. Wall and a team of high school teachers to Massachusetts to attend a conference called “High School Redesign in Action.”  This conference represented the best schools in New England that have been innovative in meeting students’ needs in a personalized proficiency based system.  It was exciting as a leader to be reaffirmed in my beliefs, to have discussions with Mr. Wall and the high school team about proficiency based education, and to learn from others’ experiences.  To see the steps that the administrative team is discussing including professional development, curriculum and instruction development, and our strategic planning focus areas align to what these other school districts are doing was very powerful.  The administrative team will be participating in a summer retreat to set goals for the district aligned to our strategic plan, best practices, and making sure that everyone in the district is moving in the same direction with a clear understanding of our vision and mission as a school department.
  1.  International Students to Brewer High School 2016-2017 Update  I have continued to research bringing International students to Brewer High School through the help of Suzanne Fox, an International Consultant who has been helping schools set up International Programs for over 30 years.  She is currently working with the following public high schools:  Falmouth, Grant-Deuel, Kennebunk, Leland, Gray, Orono and Stearns.  She also works with the following private schools:  MCI, John Bapst, Erskine, Catherine McAuley, Lee Academy and many more in New England.  She works with schools to travel abroad where she already has connections to arrange for students to study in your school. Due to travel abroad times to recruit from various countries at school fairs, we have had difficulties meeting. At this time, I recommend taking the 16-17 school year to thoroughly research this process including community interest, training needs, processes, etc.
  1.  Strategic Planning Committee Update

            Committee met on March 24th.  During this meeting we reviewed the legislative updates regarding proficiency based diplomas.  The class of 2021 will be required by statute to be proficient in 4 content areas, class of 2023 must demonstrate 6 content areas and the class of 2025 must demonstrate all 8 content areas.  The state has given more time to implement all 8 content areas.

The committee also reviewed the data from the faculty feedback loops and the community forum.  We categorized the data by themes and organized these themes into the following categories to be addressed in our strategic plan: Curriculum/Instruction; Professional Culture; Commitment to Community; Resource Management; Physical/Technological Infrastructure and Student Services and Counseling.   At our next meeting we will review mission statement and develop core vision statements for each key area on the plan.  Each of these areas will eventually have goals with action steps.

  1. Governor LePage Visit

Brewer School Department would like to thank Governor LePage for recognizing our students and faculty by taking time out of his schedule to visit our school and sign the “Lobster Bill” in the presence of our students.  It meant a great deal to the students and they were excited to see the official document.  This authentic learning opportunity will be one the students will remember for a long time.

  1. Correspondence: Letter to Ms. MacInnes from Maine Lobster Festival

We received correspondence from the Maine Lobster Festival Board of Directors. This letter recognized the energy that the students of Brewer Community School have dedicated towards recognizing the Maine Lobster, the importance the lobster plays within the State of Maine as a natural resource, and the benefits that are enjoyed by promoting this unique resource.

  1. Ms. MacInnes Semi-Finalist for County Teacher of the Year

Finally, I would like to congratulate Ms. MacInnes as being selected as a semi-finalist for County Teacher of the Year.  We wish her luck as she moves on in the selection process.