Update on the Seekonk School District---

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 Update on the Seekonk School District---

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Dave
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Age : 105

20100611
PostUpdate on the Seekonk School District---

This could also have been titled, "why I have not had time to post in awhile" Surprised


Dear Parents, Administrators and Staff,

The goal of this letter is to inform everyone of the actions leading up to ratification of next year’s fiscal budget. These actions were taken with thoughtful deliberation during a very difficult period. We continue to respect and value all members of the district. We recognize that people move their families to Seekonk because of the reputation of our school district and we applaud all the hard work that takes place to educate our children.

On Monday evening, June 7th, the Seekonk School Committee voted to accept a balanced budget in the amount of $19, 322,775 for the 2010-2011 school year. This budget included an approximate $600K shortfall, which has resulted in the elimination of several positions, and reducing the work hours of other positions. During this same meeting the committee reached consensus that the Superintendent had reached her performance based goals for the first year and achieved the remaining 6% of her salary. To be clear, this was not a bonus. We demand a high level of performance from the person whom we selected as the Superintendent of our district and structured the contract accordingly.

The past months have been tumultuous for the Seekonk School District. A combination of state cuts in Chapter 70 and reduced state aid put the district operational budget in the red. Initially we were $1.2 million dollars short. State numbers continue to fluctuate, and ongoing communication with town and state representatives has resulted in some additional money being added to the school budget. But hard decisions and re-alignments needed to be made to eliminate the remaining deficit. From the beginning of this process the committee valued the importance of living within their means and recognized that the economy was creating financial hardship on all of the stakeholders.

The committee set about closing the deficit through a series of solutions, including multiple cuts to the non-salary portion of the budget. Over half a million dollars was taken away from technology, textbooks, materials, and supplies needed to run the district. We also approached various employees seeking temporary relief from our financial obligations. We discussed the deficit and our obligations with them.

Leadership is about making difficult decisions and some were willing to sacrifice and we personally thank you for that. Discussed was the School Committee being willing to reduce their stipend, along with the Superintendent and entire Administrative Cabinet agreeing to a request for a one year deferment, not elimination, in salary increases. They recognized that if everyone could come together, the pain would be shared by all and make it easier for the district to move forward. District wide, those deferments would greatly reduce the $600,000 shortfall.

Fourteen positions now need to be cut to close this deficit. Unfortunately the time necessary to find solutions other than layoffs is drawing to a close. Educators are losing their jobs and that is a tragedy for our children. One option is for us to implement athletic and user fees; however the School Committee feels strongly that the burden of the budget shortfall should not fall only on the backs of our parents. Fees should be considered as part of an overall solution where all facets of the district are involved in resolving this overwhelming deficit.

The Administration, along with the full support of the School Committee, will continue to make strides in improving the quality of education our children receive. We are also confident that the members of our staff will continue working hard to ensure that even in these difficult times the education delivered to our children will be kept to the highest standards. We continue to be hopeful that all stakeholders will come together to resolve this issue in an open, honest and respectful manner. We are one town, one school district, and take great pride in Seekonk.

Respectfully,

Members of the Seekonk School Committee
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Update on the Seekonk School District--- :: Comments

Dave;

I appreciate your involvement and openness in providing insight into the decision process. I know from personal experience during my tenure how difficult it can be.

I am struck by the fact the the statement mentions both the layoff of 14 staff and the unwillingness to impose fees in the same paragraph. As a former committee member who had to impose fees and a parent who had to pay fees - I can tell you that parents will do whatever is needed for their children and expect the SC to do the same. Every decision is a choice of priorities. What this tells me is that the SC feels that these 14 staff positions are of less priority to the education (rememeber that is what it is all about) than imposition of fees.

I am basing my comments on the fact that the statement comes across as an attempt to justify the decisions made. The structure of that paragraph clearly joins layoffs against fees. Unless these positions are not needed (in which case they should not have even been in the budget) I would say 'Create a rational fee program - don't shortchange the education.'
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Re: Update on the Seekonk School District---
Post on Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:02 pm  Dave
There is a lot of misinformation floating throughout the district of late and this was an attempt to clarify things. As you probably know from being a past SC member, this could only be done in a limited manner and I look forward to that changing shortly. I would hope that one can read through the entire document and draw the conclusion that there may be other issues involved.

Fees would only reverse a small portion of the gap, we are talking $600,000. So I want to make sure that it is understood that fees would not save 14 positions.

d
 

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