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My Questions for the 23-24 Board of Ed Budget Discussion

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

I always have lots of questions when it comes to the North Haven Board of Education budget. I do a lot of prep work in advance of formal Budget Workshops. I like to aggregate questions and send them out in advance. My goal is not to corner anyone, make anyone look bad, or have a "gotcha" moment. My goal is to get some clarity on questions I have received from the community or questions I have myself as I dig into the budget process. Disclaimer: This is all compiled as a private citizen. I only speak for myself and not on behalf of the North Haven Board of Education.


Children Reading

High Level Questions

  • I am hearing that there is a chair shortage at Clintonville. The chairs are 30 years old and breaking. Are we planning on addressing that situation in this budget?

  • I have been told there is a tissue/cleaning supply shortage. Can you let me know if you are hearing this too?

  • Busses - Bus 21&22 at the MS/HS are apparently combined until further notice. Elementary kids are getting home at 4:30 when it is dark out. Our bus drivers are moving mountains for us to get our kids home, but the bus company needs to be more aggressive in their hiring practices. How are they addressing this? — This specific bus issue was addressed in Patrick’s weekly update yesterday, but I’d still like to chat about what many feel has been unacceptable staffing on the part of M&J.

  • One area where we are at the bottom of our DRG is arts access. We have consistently scored worse than our peers. How does this budget help to address that?

  • Kids who walk to the MS/HS from the Overbrook area walk through a muddy path every day. I have seen kids slip around there. Is there any way to pave or remedy the mud situation?

  • We continue to pay rent on a shed for maintenance equipment. The rent continues to rise. We also continue to have graffiti-ridden shipping containers scattered around campus. Can we formulate a plan for this? Do we need another building? How much would an additional storage building cost?

  • Air conditioning at the elementary schools. The last day of school in 1948 in North Haven according to almanac.com it was 73 degrees as the high. In 1965 the last day of school was 71 degrees as a high. Last year the last day of school had a high of 86 degrees. A fan and some open windows would have likely made for very comfortable conditions back in 1948 -1965. Today, closed windows and 86 degree heat with a classroom full of kids is a recipe for a trip to Nurse Fran's office over at Clintonville. I don't see this issue going away and I'd love a plan for renovating/updating/possibly consolidating our elementary schools so these kids have a shot at a full school year without heat exhaustion. Our teachers also deserve appropriate working conditions.

  • Can you provide an update on Covid grant monies we received? What is left? How long will it last? How is it impacting this proposed budget?

  • An area in which we have been not improving on our NGA is college readiness / graduation rate. Are we planning to add guidance counselors? How can we help our kids be ready to graduate and be successful in their chosen future?

  • New Haven county is a hub for science jobs. While we have improved our science offerings, I'd love to see NoHa host a science fair (or something similar) and really encourage kids with an interest in science to find and pursue their passion, right here at home.

  • Para professionals. Other districts in our DRG are leaning on General Education Paras. We have shifted away from these positions and to Special Education Paras. I am so, so proud of the work we have done with our special needs kids. It is showing in improved outcomes. Can you talk a little bit about the rationale for this shift and potentially reassure folks this is the right way to distribute staff?.





Insurance

208B Hospital Insurance - A 1.78% projected increase is amazing here. If this is correct, this would be a massive divergence from the trend. We had been averaging roughly 7% increases annually, other districts were recording 7-14% average increases. Can you talk about if this is related at all to our bolstered reserves? It looks like this is 12.97% of the overall budget - which is a proportion I am more comfortable with and it is reversing a previously concerning trend of this line item eating more and more of the budget. Are we still competitive with our insurance offerings?

Historical Insurance as a % of BOE Budget
Historical Insurance as a % of BOE Budget

MISC

Athletics - How many students are taking advantage of our athletic offerings (extra curricular)? How can we lower any barriers to entry or engage kids who might stigmatize athletics?


IT - can you talk a little bit about any additional investments we are making this year? What value should we be expecting?


Student Services - How is adoption of the new CTSEDS coming? Are we seeing the anticipated improvements? What else is changing? Do you see value in adding more counselors?


Capital - I am generally ok with the capital projects outlined, but conspicuous by its absence is air conditioning and roof renovations for the elementary schools. I'd love a plan here.


What am I missing?

There are probably other things we should be asking about. This is just what I have so far. Send me an email if you have thoughts.


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