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March 08 2017 Summary of Work Session

At the Board of Education Work Session held on March 8, 2017, Shawn Hamlin of Hamlin Design Group and Michael Fanning of Mosaic Architects, provided an update and overview of the program portion of Phase II of the district’s Long Range Plan.  The plan includes construction to Hamilton, Martin Luther King Pleasant Valley, Woodlawn, Yates and Van Corlaer elementary schools.  

Planning for Phase II began in November with a presentation to the board of education on November 16.  Since that time, the planning team has met with principals, the district facilities supervisor, and held a series of meetings with the building advisory committees in Hamilton, King, Pleasant Valley Woodlawn and Yates elementary schools.  Program planning and meetings for Van Corlaer were determined during Phase I.

Mr. Hamlin and Mr. Fanning presented drawings and program scope of work based on how the educators and leaders in each school want each of their schools designed in order to meet the programming needs of students.  The presentation and drawings are attached here (and are available online).

Mr. Hamlin pointed out that the drawings are concept designs that will evolve over time.

The planning team from Mosaic Associate, Hamlin Design Group and Turner, will present a schedule, phasing plan and budget at the March 22 board of education meeting.

Mr. Hamlin said that the program scope received a favorable reception from the New York State Education Department when they met and discussed plans for Phase II.

The work that can be done to a school in each phase is determined by the Maximum Cost Allowance (MCA) (how much the district can spend on each building at one time in order to receive building aid). Each of the school buildings in Phase II have an MCA of approximately $8-10 million.  This amount resets every five years.  Thus, the long range plan, outlines a planning cycle in which work is completed at each building, approximately every five years. 

Superintendent Larry Spring said that strategic planning allows the district to do the work to schools without having any impact on Schenectady taxpayers. 

According to the planning schedule, the budget will be presented at the March 22 board of education meeting.  The board is expected to adopt a Phase II plan on March 29.  The referendum will be advertised on March 30 and will be presented to voters for consideration on the ballot on May 16.

Between March 30 and May 16, the plan and details will be provided to the public. 

Long Range Planning documents on district buildings and the planning process are posted on the district website here.  You can also access Long Range Planning and the Capital Project work in phases by visiting the “About” link and “Strategic Initiatives.”

Looking ahead, planning for Phase III will take place in 2020 and include Van Corler, Schenectady High School, Keane and Zoller.  Phase IV planning in 2023 will bring additional work to Yates, Hamilton, King, Pleasant Valley, Woodlawn and the middle schools.

Budget Discussion

Superintendent Spring discussed the staff and community budget workshops that took place and how the information collected will be used for budget planning.

About thirty community and sixty staff members participated in the workshops that were held throughout the month of February.  During those workshop, participants were asked to review a long menu of programs, services, resources, tools, etc., all of which were proposed by school and program leaders. 

Through an exercise, the participants were required to go down a long list in a workbook, discussing and then prioritizing the items by deciding which of the following applies:   

Green: yes, must do, necessary

Yellow: high priority

Orange:  nice to do, when we can

Red:  not worth doing.

Each item in the workbook has a point value assigned to it.  The total number of points for the workbook is 550.  After making selection, however, the total green, yellow and orange selection, can -  each  - not exceed 100 points each.

Mr. Spring said that after reviewing the program and service prioritization, there was not much consistency between the staff and community member groups and provided some examples.

Staff prioritized offering an full day elementary summer program at our school as  - must do - green.

Community member didn’t select as a green – they prioritized as – nice to do when we can – orange.

He noted that areas that are all green are easier to move forward with than an area with more red.   Mr. Spring noted that these are areas with which we want to be thoughtful.

The administrative team will be meeting Friday and next week to review the results of the workshops and discuss how to move forward.

The exercise did not account for any cutting of programs and services.  It was a menu of things to add. Superintendent Spring said that the prioritization provides information for spending plans for several years and help guide decisions.

He pointed out that, if there were not changes to Governor Cuomo’s school funding proposal (2% increase to Foundation Aid), the conversation will shift and the district would be forced to make approximately $2 million worth of cuts. 

Mr. Spring said that it’s been quiet, but, Carl Heastie, Speaker of the Assembly, has spoken about the need to increase Foundation Aid.  He’s talked about creating a timetable to “fully” phase in Foundation Aid.  Mr. Spring noted that if Foundation Aid was phased in over three years, the district would be able to do many of the things outlined  in the workbook and still bring the tax levy down.

 

Next Meetings

The next board meeting is March 15, 7 p.m. in the Schenectady HS cafeteria.

A budget meeting will be held on March 22, 7 p.m. in the Mont Pleasant Middle School cafeteria.

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