The Reading School Committee (SC) is meeting on Monday January 9, 2023. The meeting is being held at 7pm at the Reading Memorial High School (RMHS) library and will be broadcast by RCTV and also be accessible via zoom. Links to watch are listed below, along with selected images from the packet and agenda.
The Regular Day and Special Education budgets constitute the bulk of the FY24 School Budget, so this will be a full meeting. In my preliminary review of these two budgets, it appears that RPS is proposing to add 14.9 FTEs between Regular Education and Special Education, with a significant chunk of these new adds being assistant principals at each of the elementary schools (5 FTE’s). The cost of these new FTEs and other new non-personnel adds to the budget, per these tables, is a total of 2.094 million dollars in additional spending. The tables on pages 38-41 of the packet (corresponding to budget book pages 25-28) list what the 14.9 FTE’s and other budget additions are. The Special Education budget this year is decreasing for the first time in many years of my reviewing budgets, but it appears that the bulk of this is because of a reduction in out of district placements, which the budget book explains further on its pages 41 and 67. For example, at budget book page 41, it explains how the money saved (approx. $857k per another budget book table) is being re-allocated within both the Special Education and Regular Day budgets:
“The projected decrease in placements, some of which were unanticipated, is due to several reasons including graduating from and aging out of placements, changing placements, terminated contracted placements, returning to the district, or moving out of the Reading community. The Tier 1 and Tier 2 services where funds have been redeployed in the FY24 Recommended Budget include K-8 Math Coaches, Secondary Transition Coordinator, K-12 BCBA, increase in hours and stipends for Team Chairs, Middle School Adjustment Counselor, Learning Center Teaching at Joshua Eaton, and the first of the two-year process to absorb the salaries of a Special Education Teacher, Counselors, and Team Chairs previously funded through Esser”
Page 67 of the budget book further explains in detail about the specific history of out of district enrollment and shows currently we have 52 kids OOD and expect a decrease of 9 more:
“From the academic year 2014 to 2023, total enrollment declined by (13%), the number of students on IEPs declined by (14%) and the number of out of district placements declined by (4%). The number of students on IEPs in the current academic year declined by (21) students, or (3%) over the last school year, and the number of students receiving services in out of district placements decreased by (2) students in the last year. Illustrated in the table above, the reader will note an increase in Out of District placements between FY21 and FY22, which was driven by a significant increase in social emotional and behavioral needs that intensified during Covid closure. However, during the prior year, between FY19 and FY20, the district experienced a decrease of (9) students enrolled in placements. A similar decrease in out of district enrollment will take place between FY23 and FY24. We expected a decrease of (9) students to withdraw from placements for several reasons which includes leaving the Reading Public School district, graduating from and aging out of placements, changing placements, or returning to the district. The district has budgeted for seven additional students pending evaluation of progress and student needs”
There is a lot to the FY24 budget, of course, but these special education out of district placement changes, along with an allowed 4% increase in the overall school budget, help to explain how the overall school budget is adding so many new positions and new initiatives.
HOW TO WATCH THIS MEETING
The RCTV YouTube live stream link to watch the meeting is here. You can also watch via Xfinity channel 99 or Verizon channel 32.
You can join the meeting (or watch) via the Zoom link here:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 836 5702 1146
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