Dear Town of Monroe,
At the January 7, 2013, Board of Education meeting, the Board approved a 3.72% spending increase for the 2013-2014 Board of Education Budget. Since the adoption of the budget by the Board of Education, First Selectman Steve Vavrek transferred $300,000 budgeted for Security Improvements to the Town Side of the budget, thus reducing the Board of Education increase to 3.14%.
We are writing this letter to solicit your support for our submitted budget, and to inform you of the cost drivers that contribute to this increase in spending.
The largest driver in the budget proposal is contractual salary obligations. These obligations result in a financial impact of $501,824. Contractual obligations are the negotiated increases an employee receives, as outlined in the union contract. The Board of Education will enter into negotiations this summer and fall with all our unions for contracts beginning with the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Because the Board will be negotiating new contracts with all the unions, a negotiation reserve of $156,075 is included in the budget proposal.
Many residents ask, “If enrollment is decreasing, then why is the budget increasing”? This is certainly a valid question. Based on the Enrollment Study completed by Dr. Peter Prowda on October 12, 2012, student enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year will decrease by 120 students. The proposed budget reflects a decrease in certified staff by 5.4 FTE’s and non-certified staff by 6 FTE’s. Also included in the 2013-2014 budget is a proposal for Full Day Kindergarten. The budget impact of this proposal is an increase in certified staff by 4.5 and non-certified staff by 3 FTE’s. The net effect of staffing in the budget is a decrease in certified staff of .9 FTE’s and non-certified staff of 3 FTE’s.
Why does the district need Full Day Kindergarten? With the adoption of Common Core State Standards by the State of Connecticut, the curriculum is written assuming Full Day Kindergarten. Based on research, if Monroe does not adopt a Full Day Kindergarten program, our students will be 40% behind their counterparts in other Connecticut communities as well as other States. The financial impact of adopting a Full Day Kindergarten program is $193,602.
In the winter of 2012, the Board of Education sent out an RFP (request for proposal) for bus transportation, as the contract with First Student was set to expire. After receiving sealed bids from a number of transportation companies, in Spring 2012, the Board of Education selected All Star Transportation to operate the school buses. Since the budget was approved prior to the Board’s selection, the 2012-2013 budget did not reflect the increased cost for transportation. The 2013-2014 proposed budget reflects an increase of $267,208 in transportation that represents the cost increase of the new contract.
There has been a lot of conversation over the Medical Reserve account this past year. The Board of Education has experienced positive trending in medical costs over the past 18 months, resulting in a large balance in the medical reserve account. The Board of Finance and the Board of Education have worked diligently to establish a policy to ensure the Board of Education medical reserve does not continue to grow exponentially. With that said, our insurance broker, Ovations Benefits, after completing a cost analysis instructed the Board to budget for a $490,480 increase in medical costs for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
The final driver affecting this budget is the cost to sunset the medical retirement benefit, as part of the teacher contract. The final payment to the TSA is $115,200. During the last teacher negotiation, the Board of Education was able to reduce its liability to the medical retirement benefit, thus savings the Town money in future pension liability.
Budget documents for review can be obtained on the Monroe Public School website. If you have any questions or require additional clarification, please contact the office of the Superintendent.
Monroe Board of Education,
Darrell Trump, Chairman
Donna Lane, Vice Chairman
Mark Hughes, Secretary
Dr. Alan Vaglivelo