BWRSD Community Update JFC 3/11/21
Message from Jonathan Brice, Superintendent of Schools
Dear BWRSD Community,
I am thankful for the community support of our students, staff, and school district. Our district is engaged in critically important work such as developing the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, continuing our Diversity and Equity work, and expanding Career and Technical Education (CTE) so more students graduate with entry level skills in fields ranging from architecture and construction, engineering, business and finance, to biosciences. Please think about ways that you can participate in these endeavors because your feedback, advocacy, and support will help us to develop great opportunities for each student.
The critical work of BWRSD cannot be accomplished without great staff, a coherent and thoughtful Strategic Plan, and a budget that supports teaching and learning for approximately 3200 students. Today, 3/11/21 at 7 p.m., I will make the first presentation of the BWRSD FY’22 budget request to the Joint Finance Committee (JFC). In advance of tonight’s presentation, I will address concerns that I have heard about our budget. The infographic below shows our expected general fund end of year surplus for FY’21, our projected total fund balance for the end of FY’21, and audit results from FY’18 to FY’20 (my first year as Superintendent) confirming BWRSD’s compliance with generally accepted accounting principles.
Unfortunately, BWRSD’s proposed FY’22 budget presents a bleak picture. The proposed budget is impacted by a reduction in state aid of $1,284,903, lower student enrollment, as well as health care and transportation increases. In addition, last year we used fund balance to supplement the budget and we are making the decision to not utilize fund balance for FY’22 to avoid a structural deficit. Fund balance should only be used for one time purchases and emergencies like responding to a pandemic, as was the case last year. Given the need for additional staff, supplies, and equipment to re-open schools, I stand by my decision to use fund balance and not lay off staff in the midst of the pandemic. For the remainder of this year, as we begin to move out of the pandemic we implement cost savings measures, reduce staff where possible, and institute spending freezes when it is feasible. In addition, we are looking at all possible efficiencies for next year, including relocating the district office to the high school as a long term measure to reduce operating costs.
While we are optimistic that federal stimulus dollars are on their way and will support our ability to fully reopen schools and address the learning loss of students, the amount we will receive and the restrictions in its use cannot be ascertained at this time. We have spent the last year dealing with a once in a Century pandemic and first and foremost need to help our students recover from the academic difficulties and social emotional experiences they have endured.
The challenges for next year are twofold. How do we continue to provide the same high level of programs and services our students need to succeed with the potential of reduced staff and increased class size? And, how do we continue to improve our operations without adequate funding for staff in the business office, human resources, technology, and student services? In essence, how do we make the changes needed to strengthen BWRSD and increase our effectiveness with decreased funding and resources?
It is my hope that everyone in our community recognizes that local funding of BWRSD must increase, and may need to exceed the 4% tax cap, in order to account for decreases in state aid; due to increasing property values, the elimination of the regionalization bonus, and decreases in enrollment. There are no easy answers for next year’s budget deficit and we, the school district, and the towns must work together to provide students with what they need to be successful.
Jonathan Brice, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Contents of this Update
1. JFC Meeting - March 11, 2021 at 7pm
Joint Finance Committee Virtual Meeting - Thursday, March 11 at 7:00 pm
Click here to access the JFC March 11th Agenda for Zoom links and YouTube Channel Livestream link.
Tonight's JFC Meeting will be livestreamed on the Bristol Warren Regional School District's YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMfoo1G_4jBMUOuP2Vlv4xw
UPCOMING: Joint Finance Committee Virtual Meeting - Thursday, March 25 at 7:00pm
Please visit our Back to School 2020-21 web page for important updates and links to our reopening plan and resources.