In fully transparency, the following is a press release from the Framingham School Committee and the Framingham Public Schools submitted to SOURCE media.
FRAMINGHAM – Last night, the City of Framingham’s School Committee voted 9-0 to put forward the Fiscal Year 2022 budget request for the Framingham Public Schools (FPS).
This budget request is built upon the philosophy of investing in academic achievement, supporting employees, establishing access and equity models, enhancing technology, improving safety and security, legal compliance, meeting contractual obligations, continued streamlining of operations, creating opportunities for innovation, and data-driven decision making – all during a time of pandemic recovery, renewal, and planned supports for students, staff, and the community.
Fully aligned with the Framingham Public Schools Strategic Plan 2020-2023, School Improvement Plans at all individual schools, and Massachusetts educational standards, this is a forward-looking budget focused on creating pathways to optimize student success.
“This mission-driven budget seeks the best possible return on investment for our students and families,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert A. Tremblay. “How money is spent speaks directly to what the school department values and upon close inspection you will see that each and every expense ties back to the strategic goals and objectives that we have developed in concert with our administrators, teachers, community partners, community members, and our most valued stakeholders, our students.”
The FY22 request totals $148,232,945 which would enable the district to fund targeted and proactive education efforts in numerous departments, as well as at BLOCKS Preschool, nine elementary schools, three middle schools, Framingham High School, and the Framingham High School Thayer Campus.
The operating budget year to year increase totals 3.48% and $4,983,511.
The total budget is supported, at this moment, by at least $57,034,315 million in Chapter 70 state aid and a projected $6,521,672 of special education support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through its Circuit Breaker reimbursement program. The Dis
trict is also supported by a combined projected $7,072,692 in federal and state grants.
“This budget submission reflects a detailed and planned series of commitments to help our students, staff, and community build back, recover, reconnect, learn, and have fun,” said Adam Freudberg, Chair of the Framingham School Committee, District 4. “The School Committee and District’s commitment to serve all students and staff in the next fiscal year and school year is reflected throughout the budget book with multiple areas of focus such as PreK expansion, social emotional behavioral health supports, teaching and learning, solar energy projects, and our collective excitement with the planned opening of the community’s first new school building in more than two decades.”
During recent budget meetings, members and FPS leaders discussed how this budget is being submitted during the COVID-19 period of uncertainty, yet hopeful recovery and renewal. The team has put forth a responsible, forward-looking plan that is aimed at driving student achievement through strategic investments as well as personnel and program efficiencies.
During meetings initiatives were highlighted such as methods to implement the recommendations from the equity audit, COVID-19 recovery, mental health supports, restoring library media specialist positions at schools currently with gaps, adding new opportunities for preschool experiences before Kindergarten, summer programing enhancements, and the renewed Parent Information Center now relaunching as The FPS Welcome Center.
Many of these efforts use grants and will not have any or only minimal impact to the operating budget. During the next fiscal year there are plans to see solar panels be added to roofs, students and staff back to in person learning, social-emotional behavioral health supports, and the excitement planned as the District opens the new Fuller Middle School as the District’s first new school building in 21 years.
Members and staff noted that throughout the district they are so proud to have recent current school year/FY21 success stories showing a strong return on previous investments and reflections that the previous and new Strategic Plans are both making tangible progress.
This includes remote and hybrid learning adjustments, moving to a one-to-one model by providing Chromebooks to all students, increased access to high quality instructional software, a focus on equity and culturally responsive practices in teaching and learning, continued growth of dual language programs, the launch of the new Civics project for all 8th graders and U.S. History 2 students at the high school, the near-completion of the new Fuller Middle School, and too many individual achievements by students, recent graduates, and staff to mention!
With any budget comes the need to plan for year-to-year drivers. This fiscal year, the School Committee and District has carefully planned for projected enrollment fluctuations with Kindergarten deferrals due to the pandemic expected to grow, the renewal of all six collective bargaining agreements, utility costs, new special education expenditures required by law, and, moreover, increased social, emotional, and behavioral health initiatives.
Efficiencies and savings were also identified throughout the year and made it into the FY22 Budget proposal, as there is always a need to evaluate the ways in which taxpayer dollars are spent to ensure the best return on investment and benefits to students and community. The release of district office space by the Superintendent’s decision to not renew the lease at the Perini building, for example, saved more than $550,000 in the FY22 and subsequent budgets and preserved the teaching and support staff needed to manage the remote and hybrid learning models. Other examples outlined in the budget book include the zero based budget development model, savings of $115,184 by hiring a new transportation vendor, bulk purchasing, and field trip and athletic transportation efficiencies.
The budget was also developed with transparency and community feedback in mind, with public outreach, meetings, additional public comment periods, and web-based communications from the fall of 2020 to the present. In full compliance with Article VI of the City Charter, the School Committee held a public hearing on the budget on March 17, 2021. This budget, in accordance with the City Charter, has now been submitted to the Mayor.
This early budget submission by the School Committee (due April 9) now allows the Mayor additional time to review and consider the Framingham Public School’s requested appropriation to the total municipal operating budget the Mayor will submit to the City Council by early May.
The draft FY22 Budget Book with details and proposed funding for every school and every department can be found here.
The final FY22 Budget Book will be updated by early next week, submitted to the Mayor, and posted on the School Committee’s website. This budget book builds on recent changes to continue to strive to make the product a thorough document reflecting recent accomplishments, school profiles, and all planned initiatives and expenditures.
The budget book for FY22 has also been upgraded through the OpenGov Platform to better utilize interactive charts, graphs, and narratives which will be online by May. By doing so, FPS will provide the community with a greater level of transparency and understanding on all school department operations, initiatives, and expenditures.