Wednesday, December 6, 2017

MERSD Budget Season Underway!

The MERSD School Committee and Administration are committed to a transparent, open, and informed budgetdevelopment process.  In keeping with that commitment, this article is the first in a series designed to assist the communities of Essex and Manchester in learning more about MERSD and understanding the Regional SchoolDistrict budget process.  Throughout each budget season, we work cooperatively with the Boards of Selectmanand Finance in both Essex and Manchester to provide one another with on-going progress reports on our planning process and outlook. This year, we will, again, continue this very successful approach.

Budget Basics

MERSD begins its budget work in November.

The Superintendent and Director of Finance work with the school Principals, Director of Special Education, Director of Curriculum & Instructional Technology, and Facilities Manager to develop budgets for the core programs and operations of the MERSD.  These budgets have two parts:
  1. Level services or the same programs as the prior year.
  2. Expanded effort (additional costs needed to meet program requirements, federal and state     mandates, or other best practice needs as recommended by the MERSD Administration). 

The Director of Finance also develops forecasts for:
  • revenue sources (state and federal funding, grants, activity and program fees);
  • mandatory district-wide obligations (health insurance costs, personnel salary increases, retirement benefits costs, capital and operating expenses);
  • estimated assessments to the Towns for funding the MERSD budget. 


In early December, the Superintendent presents the draft budget to the School Committee and schedules a mid-December public hearing for the tentative budget. 

In January, the School Committee and the MERSD Administration, along with input from the communities, work to further refine the projections and approve a final budget for submission to the Towns in early February. During February and March, the School Committee and the District Administration continue to monitor assumptions and make adjustments when necessary.

During Manchester Town Meeting at the beginning of April and then Essex Town Meeting in May, voters from each town vote on the MERSD budget.  Both Towns must pass the MERSD budget at town meeting; otherwise, we are mandated to keep the prior year’s budget until another new budget is approved by both Towns. 
This budget process sequence is dictated by a combination of Town By-Laws, the MERSD Agreement, and State education laws. 

Building a school district budget seven months in advance of the start of the fiscal year isn’t easy, and it requires making numerous assumptions on some of the most significant components of the budget.  For example, the state sets its funding for schools in the spring, after the MERSD budget is completed and approved by the Towns.  Similarly, the increase in health insurance costs is unknown until much later in the year, and special education costs can change as children move into the district.  In short, these timing issues and others make it difficult to produce a completely accurate budget early in the process.

The 2018-2019 MERSD Budget

This week MERSD will formally began the budget process.  During the next few months, a great deal of our time and energy will be focused on the dollars and cents of the balance sheet.  What is important to keep in mind is that the balance sheet supports our primary goal of maintaining services and improving student achievement.

Budget Goals for FY19
~Develop and deliver a fiscally responsible budget that maintains educational quality, supports District goals, and aligns with our multi-year budget commitment to work within the confines of Proposition 2 ½
~Manage Enrollment
o   Strive to meet School Committee class size guidelines
o   Serve increasingly diverse student educational needs
~Exercise fiscal responsibility
o   Seek internal efficiencies to offset growth needs when possible
~Meet local, state, and federal responsibilities while controlling growth

The MERSD School Committee will hold its Tentative Budget hearing on Wednesday, December 13th at 7:30 at the MERMHS Learning Commons (2nd Floor).  This event is meant to provide the community with an opportunity to learn and ask questions about our proposed budget for FY19. 

Please visit our budget page [www.mersd.org Quick Link – MERSD Budget] for information about our budget process, a complete budget season calendar, and an information page highlighting the work going on in the district.

How To Participate and Learn More

Public comment is welcome at the beginning and end of working meetings of the School Committee. The public hearing on the budget will be December 13th, at 7:00pm in the Manchester Essex Regional Middle and High School. 

MERSD Tentative Budget Hearing
December 13th @ 7:00pm
MERMHS Learning Commons

To view this article and more information on the budget process, please visit our budget page on the MERSD website [www.mersd.org Quick Link – MERSD Budget].

If you have a specific comment / question related to the budget process it is recommended and requested that you contact the MERSD Administration or a School Committee member in advance.  It is also recommended and requested that you submit your comment / question by e-mail or in writing so that and accurate responses can be provided.  Comments and questions may be submitted to:  BUDGET@mersd.org

Thank you for your interest and support of our Schools!
MERSD School Committee, 
Pam Beaudoin, Superintendent 
Avi Urbas, Director of Finance and Operations

Thank You Spaulding Education Fund!

Thank you to the Spaulding Education Fund for it's continued support of the MERSD.  For over 25 years this private, community-based non profit organization has been committed to advancing educational excellence in the Manchester Essex Regional Schools.  100% of the funds they raise go towards educational grants throughout the school district which help to enhance the curriculum with innovative ideas, programs and technology.  Supplementing the district’s budget, SEF’s grants continue to strengthen core subjects such as math, reading, writing and science as well as foreign language, music, art and physical education in grades K-12. 

From technology tools to cultural enrichment opportunities to so much more, Spaulding has been a valuable partner in our efforts to continuously improve the quality of our academic program.  We sincerely appreciate SEF’s ongoing efforts to help us attain our goal of reaching all learners.

Spaulding Education has recently kicked off its annual campaign, please consider supporting their efforts knowing that your contribution will positively and directly impact the learning experiences of the children in our communities.  




  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Memorial School Building Project Update!

The Memorial School Building Committee (SBC) and its team of consultants submitted its Preliminary Design Program (PDP) to the (MSBA) Massachusetts School Building Authority on November 22nd. This is the first milestone in the MSBA’s Feasibility Study phase.  



What’s In the Preliminary Design Program?
  • Memorial School educational program
  • Memorial School initial space summary and existing conditions report
  • Site analysis and site determination- Memorial School site has been selected
  • Project design parameters and initial design options for further study
  • Conceptual budget for each option, based on cost per square foot


The overall purpose of the Feasibility Study is to gather information about potential sites and design options, identify options for development, analyze their pros and cons, and choose a preferred option for high level schematic design and budget estimate. The PDP document is the first progress report in this process. In the PDP, MSBA requires all districts to present three types of options:  renovation only, renovation with additions, and new construction.  These options will be examined in detail by MERSD in the next phase of the feasibility process.  From December to February, the Building Committee will be working to narrow down the potential options and will submit a Preferred Schematic Design (PSD) option to the MSBA for approval and further development.  The overall goal is to identify an option that is both cost effective and aligned with the needs of MERSD’s educational program.

Community Input:  This the fall, the Memorial School Building Committee hosted two community meetings at Memorial School to keep both the Manchester and Essex communities up-to-date on the process and to gather feedback. The meetings focused on the MSBA grant program process and schedule, the existing conditions of Memorial school, and introducing potential building sites.  The second community meeting focused on site selection decision making, feasibility phase building options, and project timeline.   The next community meeting in late January will include updates on the evaluation of building options being considered by the Building Committee.

Timeline:  In October, representatives from MERSD met with the Finance Committees and the Boards of Selectmen in both towns to review progress on the Feasibility Study and to ask for their support of a November 2018 town vote to fund the Memorial School building project. Both the Manchester and Essex Boards of Selectman voted unanimously to support this effort. This puts us on a pathway to have a project schematic design and cost proposal available in Spring of 2018. Throughout the coming months, representatives from the Building Committee will be at various community events in both towns to answer questions about our progress and the project.  Please look for us!



A Look Ahead

Dec. 2017 – February 2018            Identification of design option for development
      January 31, 2018                    MSBC Community Meeting
      February 21, 2018                   MSBA Sub. - Preferred Schematic Design
March – June 2018                        Schematic Design & Cost Proposal Development
September 2018                           Town Meetings Held
November 2018                            Town Votes


For More Information Please Visit the Memorial Building Committee Site

Curriculum Update!

November News - Posted by Julie DeRoche

Yale's research and the Center for Emotional Intelligence (RULER) has recently been highlighted in Time's Special Edition: The Science of Emotions.  Learn more about the work we are doing with teachers this year! Check it out at: Time: The Science of Emotions


Visit the Curriculum Highlights Blog to read the rest of the post which includes updates on the following: 

  • MERSD Mentoring
  • Professional Development Committee
  • Curriculum Leadership Team 






Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Memorial School Building Project Update!

The Memorial School Building Committee (SBC) and its team of consultants submitted its Preliminary Design Program (PDP) to the (MSBA) Massachusetts School Building Authority on November 22nd. This is the first milestone in the MSBA’s Feasibility Study phase.  



What’s In the Preliminary Design Program?
  • Memorial School educational program
  • Memorial School initial space summary and existing conditions report
  • Site analysis and site determination- Memorial School site has been selected
  • Project design parameters and initial design options for further study
  • Conceptual budget for each option, based on cost per square foot


The overall purpose of the Feasibility Study is to gather information about potential sites and design options, identify options for development, analyze their pros and cons, and choose a preferred option for high level schematic design and budget estimate. The PDP document is the first progress report in this process. In the PDP, MSBA requires all districts to present three types of options:  renovation only, renovation with additions, and new construction.  These options will be examined in detail by MERSD in the next phase of the feasibility process.  From December to February, the Building Committee will be working to narrow down the potential options and will submit a Preferred Schematic Design (PSD) option to the MSBA for approval and further development.  The overall goal is to identify an option that is both cost effective and aligned with the needs of MERSD’s educational program.

Community Input:  This the fall, the Memorial School Building Committee hosted two community meetings at Memorial School to keep both the Manchester and Essex communities up-to-date on the process and to gather feedback. The meetings focused on the MSBA grant program process and schedule, the existing conditions of Memorial school, and introducing potential building sites.  The second community meeting focused on site selection decision making, feasibility phase building options, and project timeline.   The next community meeting in late January will include updates on the evaluation of building options being considered by the Building Committee.

Timeline:  In October, representatives from MERSD met with the Finance Committees and the Boards of Selectmen in both towns to review progress on the Feasibility Study and to ask for their support of a November 2018 town vote to fund the Memorial School building project. Both the Manchester and Essex Boards of Selectman voted unanimously to support this effort. This puts us on a pathway to have a project schematic design and cost proposal available in Spring of 2018. Throughout the coming months, representatives from the Building Committee will be at various community events in both towns to answer questions about our progress and the project.  Please look for us!

A Look Ahead

Dec. 2017 – February 2018            Identification of design option for development
      January 31, 2018                    MSBC Community Meeting
      February 21, 2018                   MSBA Sub. - Preferred Schematic Design
March – June 2018                        Schematic Design & Cost Proposal Development
September 2018                           Town Meetings Held
November 2018                            Town Votes





Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November Issue of the Independent!

The November issue of the MERHS Independent is now available on the MERHS website. In this issue - a recap of Spirit Week, an overview of the new SCORE requirements, a piece on Spaulding's Annual Night of Stars, and a feature on the art department portrait project.  



Athletics Review Update

Thank you to all of the parents and students who have given feedback to Nancy O’Neil for the Athletics Review.  Based on the School Committee schedule, the report will be presented at the January 9th School Committee meeting.  

Athletics Review 
School Committee Presentation 
January 9, 2018 ~ 6:30 ~ MERHS Library

To be assured that we are providing the best possible program for our student athletes, MERHS has engaged in an athletic review this fall.  Nancy O’Neil, retired athletic director from Lincoln-Sudbury, has conducted the review which has included focused on assessing the MERHS Athletics’ vision and philosophy, the relationship and role of athletics to other areas of the school, programming, organization and communication, resources, and the future direction of the program.