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BOE faces budget shortfall
By Kim Becker
The Board of Education listened with concern as Harry Traver, Business Manager, outlined shortfalls in the current budget. The $248,000 cost overrun is due to Special Education costs. Regular education is favorable by $45,000 due to spending freezes in “conferences, supplies, books, and library books”. At this point, the weather may not be a large cost factor as the schools’ roofs are bearing the snow load well, saving the District as much as $100,000 in shoveling costs. Other spending accounts may be frozen if unexpected repairs or the weather cause havoc.
Quality and Diversity Budget
This special budget “support[s] direct needs of our Open Choice students, pay magnet school tuitions and support various other enrichment activities for Granby students”. For example, these funds are used to pay for the summer school program and the Chromebooks leases for grades 7-10 grade as well as partially funding for full-day kindergarten. Upon reviewing the proposed Q and D budget, both Jenny Emory and Ben Perron raised concerns that no funding appeared to be targeted for students caught in the achievement gap. They requested that the administration look for ways to provide more services to struggling students, particularly those enrolled through Open Choice.
A review of magnet school spending by the Drummer revealed that this school year a total of 112 students opted to attend magnet and agricultural/vocational schools from Pre-K through grade 12. Over half of those students attended schools for which the District must pay their tuition. Over $250,000 was paid to magnet and agricultural/vocational schools this year and the administration anticipates an increase of students attending out-of-district schools next year. In fact, from Fiscal Year 2010 to present there has been a 26 percent increase in students leaving Granby for other schools.
The District is currently piloting a 3rd grade enrichment program called Renzulli Learning as part of an effort to meet the needs of advanced learners. All students participated in 6-8 week ‘enrichment clusters’ on topics such as Dancelogy, Super travel Agents, and Cooking with Books. Additionally, the 3rd grade teachers were asked to compress their curricula for students who quickly grasped the grade-level materials. Those students were then given a task, such as building a math game, to enhance their understanding of the material.
School Improvement Plans
This month all of the schools updated the Board on their School Improvement Plans. Writing instruction was a key element for every school with rubrics developed, professional development implemented, and data analyzed. The principals believe that their efforts are bearing fruit and hope to have data to support this by year’s end.