Thursday, May 21, 2020
Dear North Shore Parents, Community Members, and Faculty,
It was great seeing some of our community members yesterday at my first virtual Community Budget Meeting. During the meeting, important information was discussed and a number of great questions were asked by our residents. I will be sharing them in a series of Budget Blasts with you to keep everyone informed during the weeks prior to the Budget Vote on June 9, 2020.
Q. Do we need funding to support our return to school?
A. Yes.Following the recommendations of the Department of Health (DOH) and Center for Disease Control (CDC), funding to prepare our schools for the safe return of our students, administration, faculty and staff for the 2020-21 academic year includes but is not limited to the following: classrooms that comply with social distancing requirements, personal protection equipment (PPE), enhanced cleaning supplies, physical barriers, additional sinks, added supervision, and instructional materials to support teaching and learning. Contingency planning is essential right now as much remains unknown.
Q. If our schools are physically closed now, are we saving money that we can use next year?
A. As many of you are aware, the bulk of our operating budget (approximately 82%) goes towards personnel costs including salaries and health and benefits. While our physical doors may be closed due to the pandemic and the Governor’s Executive Order, our K-12 teaching, learning and district work continues including:
- Since March 2020, our administrators, teachers, and staff have been dedicated to engaging our students in online learning via Google Meet
- To begin, we provided Chromebooks and personal hotspots to our students who needed them. All students in grades 5-12 have personal devices
- The continuity of K-12 online instruction has been taking place in all core courses, electives, physical education, and the fine and performing arts
- Additionally, teachers have been using Google Meet to interact virtually with their students.
- Provisions of counseling and wellness programs to all students
- Clubs and activities resume online to our students
We are not allowed to allocate money in this year’s budget for next year. All funds need to be allocated for a specific purpose by June 30, 2020 and can’t be carried forward in the absence of specific and encumbered expenses. In addition, while we may have saved some money on electricity, heating, and substitute teaching costs during our school closure, we continue to spend money in new areas that we did not anticipate. Additionally, we continue to provide for the following:
_- Breakfast and lunch to families by request and/or need are made by our food service workers
- Transportation and bus service to deliver food and supplies to our families is made confidentially and daily
- Childcare costs to our essential workers in the district (i.e., healthcare workers and first responders)
- Personal protection equipment to employees working during pandemic (e.g., masks, gowns, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.,)
- Supervision of our schools by security and staff
- Maintenance of our building and grounds by our custodians and staff
- Increases in technology and equipment
- Funding for enhanced consultation and staff development in Online Learning through the Center for Professional Education of Teachers at Columbia University. This will position us and enhance teaching and learning as we move forward
Lastly, please be on the lookout for more virtual General Budget Information Sessions through our community organizations and the link for the next virtual Community Budget Meeting on May 26, 2020 at 9:30 am. Additionally, if you would like to host an informal virtual budget coffee with friends (similar to our past budget coffees that were held in our resident’s homes), please contact Ms. Shelly Newman at email@example.com and we will work with you to arrange a convenient date and time. For more budget information, please see the budget/financial section at http://www.northshoreschools.org/boe/Budget.htmlor the budget newsletter on the school homepage at www.northshoreschools.org
Have a great night!
All the best,
Dr. Peter Giarrizzo
Superintendent of Schools