As state budget writers haggle over final details of a more than eleven point three billion dollar spending plan, public charter school advocates continue to sound warnings about the need to increase their funding. House budget writers did include an increase of about one thousand dollars per pupil in the budget they passed and sent to the senate. And, the senate did pass the same legislation that increased funding, which has remained level at about fifty five hundred dollars per student since two thousand and nine. However the senate tabled the bill after passing it and ultimately reduced the increase by about seventy five percent, leaving charter school funding with a two hundred dollar per student increase in its budget.
It’s not enough, says Matthew Southerton of the New Hampshire Center for Innovative Schools. In a statement released last night, Southerton wrote quote: “If action is not taken we risk damaging these high-quality public schools and tumbling toward a ‘race to the bottom’ as families seek opportunity in other states.” End quote. He went on to note that even State Board of Education member Bill Duncan, not exactly known as a charter school advocate, testified in favor of the legislation that granted the increase back in February. We’ve linked to the statement, which includes an interesting comparison of how per pupil costs at traditional public schools have skyrocketed over the same period of time charter school funding has remained flat.
By the way, it would only take three million dollars to ensure that the state’s popular charter schools are made whole in the senate’s budget. That’s less than three ten thousandths of a percent.
Speaking of budget impacts, they’re still being assessed on the contract proposal tentatively agreed to by the Manchester Board of School Committee’s Negotiation Committee and the Manchester Education Association. Last week, the union’s membership overwhelmingly voted to approve the pact. It would seem as if teachers in the first year of the contract will see a whopping raise. While teachers technically will not progress from one step to the next in the contract’s first year, those who haven’t maxed out their step raises will see a seven percent pay raise because they’ve increased pay by that much at every step. Teachers at the top of the scale this year would receive a raise of about five percent. In the two thousand seventeen – eighteen school year, another step raise is added to the system, guaranteeing teachers fifteen years of annual pay increases instead of the current fourteen, and giving every teacher who has reached the top of the system another raise of approximately two percent.
Over the life of the contract, the district projects its salary line will increase by roughly six and one half million dollars, including a three million dollar jump in the coming fiscal year. That doesn’t count the projected increase in federal withholding and retirement contributions which are projected to rise by nearly three quarters of a million dollars in the coming budget and by roughly one point five million dollars over the life of the contract. The district is also projecting that changes made to the health insurance plan will result in a total savings of up to four million dollars in the coming budget, offsetting the first year’s contract cost increases. Over the life of the contract, the district projects costs will increase by nearly three million dollars.
The basis of those health insurance savings seems to be the assumption that at least half of the district’s teachers will switch from their current HMO or Point of Service Plan to its Health Savings Plan, which is a long, long way away from where they’re at right now…a long, long way. It could also be that tying premiums paid by the district to the cost of the health plan associated with the H S A is the reason for the savings. We discussed this and more with MEA President Ben Dick this morning and will seek clarification.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Incoming Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard announced he will elevate Captain Carlo Capano to the position of Assistant Chief effective on July First. Capano resides in Manchester’s Ward Seven with his family. His children attend public schools. He’s a nineteen year veteran with the force who has won many honors, which Willard provided in a biography accompanying the release. It’s been uploaded with this newscast so you can take a look. By all accounts, Capano is a good guy, a good cop and a good pick for the position.
Questions are being raised over the decision of Timberlane Regional School District Superintendent Earl Metzler to use the Sandown Central School to house the district’s pre-K program, in addition to Sandown’s kindergartens. Metzler wrote the school out the budget and district voters rejected not one, but two warrant articles restoring funding for the facility. So, imagine everybody’s surprise when Metzler showed up with a so called consolidation plan that re-purposed the building. Of course, the incurious school board, many of whose members were probably in cahoots with Metzler for a bait and switch, basically went along with it, all but Donna Green, that is. Regardless of what comes of it, one has to wonder just how much float there really is in Timberlane’s budget if it can keep a school, its budget writers said closing would save three quarters of a million dollars, open without any mention of the tight budget they said forced them to close it in the first place. Talk about things that make you to hmmmmm.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!