Superintendent’s Recommended FY21 Operating Budget

Dear Friends,

At the January 22nd School Committee Meeting, I presented the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Superintendent’s Budget Recommendation. The FY21 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget is the result of nearly four month’s work that began in October of 2019. It includes input from the District’s teachers, department heads, building principals and central office leadership. Last night’s presentation of the FY21 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget begins the second phase of our budget development process, which will conclude with the School Committee adopting its version of the FY21 Budget on March 11, 2020. 

I would like to thank Assistant Superintendent Jeff Sands for his work this year in thoroughly re-developing the District’s Budget Documents.  I think you will agree that these materials provide the public with a greater level of detail and transparency regarding the District’s finances. 

The Superintendent’s Recommended Budget includes a total Operating Budget of $34,689,267 or an increase of $1,894,098 or 5.5% over the current year.  This increase is made up of the funding required to maintain “level services,” or the continuation of the current services, programs and operations of the District in the amount of $1,662,072, and an investment in critical priorities that are necessary for the continued success of the District in the amount of $232,036. 

As has been the case in recent years, the main drivers behind the level service increases to the FY21 Budget continue to be staff salaries ($738,593, 3.4% increase over FY20), staff and retiree health insurance costs ($343,811, 7.7% increase over FY20), tuition for students educated in out-of-district placements ($270,120, 11.3% increase over FY20) and the District’s required contribution to the Essex County Retirement System ($97,026, 9.5% increase over FY20).  Together these four items comprise $1,449,550 of the total increase. 

Major components of the investments to critical priorities include funding to add late bus transportation to allow student access to after school help sessions, clubs and activities ($64,800), additional Chromebook Carts to increase the availability of technology resources for Middle School Students ($42,150), and funding to ensure the adequate cleaning of the schools’ cafeteria spaces ($29,136).  

Over the course of the next seven weeks, the School Committee will dedicate a substantial portion of each of their regular meetings to reviewing and discussing different aspects of the FY21 Operating Budget.  As part of this process, the School Committee has scheduled two public hearings on March 4 and March 11 to gather feedback from the community on the proposed budget.  The full calendar of School Committee Budget Development Meetings is available below.  Future School Committee Meeting Agendas will be posted to the District Website. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Proposed FY21 Budget, follow the School Committee’s discussions through attending School Committee Meetings or watching on Boxford Cable Access TV and to participate in the public hearings to lend your thoughts to the FY21 Masconomet District Operating Budget.

Sincerely,

Mike Harvey

Superintendent

The Future is Already Here

“The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” 

                                                            –William Gibson

Nowhere is this quote truer than when examining the incredible changes we’ve seen in our lifetimes in the areas of science and technology, communications, and mass media and the relatively little change that has occurred in our education systems over the same time period. 

In the past 250 years, our economy and culture has experienced a rapid series of changes, which can be summarized as “Four Industrial Revolutions.”  Essentially, our ability to develop more sophisticated machines over time to complete increasingly complex tasks has changed our society from one primarily based on agriculture to our modern, diversified economy. 

One of the few areas of our society that hasn’t been drastically changed is our system for educating our children. Our current education system, a product of the “Second Industrial Revolution,”  was developed to train illiterate farmers to become semi-literate factory workers.  Many of the structures that we practice today in our schools were implemented to help achieve this goal.  The organization of the curriculum into discrete subjects, the division of the school day into fixed periods, and the sorting of students by their age into grades are all examples of a system organized to produce workers who were ready for the assembly line.  In this school system, the transmission of information from teacher to student was a key component.  Success in this system was measured by how much information a student could memorize and repeat.

We know now that the changes brought about by the 3rd and 4th Industrial Revolutions have made many of the skills stressed in our education system obsolete.  The rise of the internet has changed the nature of information from scarcity to over-abundance.  We now hold more computing power in our smartphones than was used by NASA to land astronauts on the moon.  We can also find the answer to almost any question we may have by asking Siri, Google or Alexa.  Information is now essentially “free,” thereby reducing our reliance on the need to memorize and recall facts.  These new times will certainly call for the mastery of a different set of skills by our students. 

Over the past few months, I’ve asked the faculty of the Masconomet Regional School District to think about what learning and school should look like in order to best prepare students to be successful in this future.  During last month’s professional development time, the faculty explored the question: “What knowledge, skills and dispositions do our students need to master in order to be successful in the future?” 

As the District’s Leadership Team and I reviewed the results of this work, we wondered how parents and other members of the Masconomet Community might respond to this question.  Rather than just speculating, we decided to ask you directly.  Please complete the brief (one question) survey below, so we can gather your feedback on what you feel is important for students to know and be able to do as a result of their Masconomet Education.  The survey will be open until Monday December 2nd.  Once the survey window closes, we will publish the community’s survey results along with the faculty’s responses.  Your feedback will help us to design a school system to best prepare students for whatever comes next.

Thanks,

Mike Harvey

P.S.: For more information on some of the amazing changes that are happening in schools across the country, please look at the Innovation Playlist from Ted Dintersmith.

Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year!

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year.  We’re excited for students to return to school.  Our Orientation Program for students entering grades seven and nine will take place on Thursday, August 29th.  All students will report to school on Tuesday, September 3rd.  September 3rd will be an early dismissal at 12:20 for all students.  Please visit the Masconomet District’s Website for a full version of the District’s 2019-2020 Calendar.

I would like to thank the entire Masconomet Community for the incredibly warm reception I have received over the past two months.  I couldn’t have asked for a better transition into the role of Superintendent.  Since July 1st, I’ve met with over 70 members of the Masconomet Community, including parents, teachers, support staff, administrators, school committee members and town officials to learn all about the Masconomet Regional School District.  Through this fall, I will continue this process of learning what people love about Masconomet and what they think we could be doing better.  If you’d like to be a part of the inteview process, please feel free to contact me at mharvey@masconomet.org

I plan on using these interviews, along with a review of the District’s foundational documents and observations of classrooms, to complete a “State of the Schools” Report, which I will present to the School Committee and Masconomet Community in December.  This document will become the basis for developing a Strategic Blueprint Document that will provide a roadmap for achieving the aspirations outlined in the District’s Vision 2025 document

Finally, I would like to welcome two new members of the District Leadership Team.  Jeff Sands has joined the District in the role of Assistant Superintendent for Operations and Finance.  Jeff joins us after six years as the Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Finance at the Hamilton-Wenahm regional School District.  I would also like to introduce Jim Dillon as the Interim Principal of Masconomet Middle School.  Many of you have already gotten to know Jim as an 8th Grade Science Teacher at Masconomet.  I’m excited to have both Jeff and Jim join the Leadership Team!

Please make sure you have the most up to date information regarding the Masconomet School District by visiting our website: www.masconomet.org or by following me on Twitter: @mascosuper.  Have a great school year!

Sincerely,

Michael M. Harvey, Ed.D.

Superintendent

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