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:
- Create an educational spending plan centered around our students that prepares them for college, career and life.
- A budget that is fiscally responsible to our Brewer taxpayers.
- Our academic programs aligned to our vision and mission
- Our athletic and club activities
- Opportunities in the arts and music
- Appropriate staffing and class sizes
- 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:
- What is in the best interest of our students?
- 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?
- What is needed to move forward on our five-year strategic plan?
- 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!
Brewer Superintendent of Schools
Budget Presentation Click here
Budget Summary Click here
Budget Explanation Click here
Expenditure Reductions Click here