Budget Message to the Community

Hello MAUSD Community,

     I recognize the anxiety that has been created around this challenging budget situation.  I hear our community saying we can’t afford what you are asking for and I hear our staff saying I am afraid I will lose my job. Unfortunately, some of the financial realities we have been anticipating for years are bearing down on us without any of the benefits from more efficient structures we've explored. I have spoken about these challenges with multiple news outlets and provided testimony to the House Education Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee just in the past week or so.  I've been trying to articulate that something needs to change if we are to reduce spending and improve outcomes for students.  

     As you may know, I was directed by the board to bring one option that reduces the Bristol tax rate (the highest of the four towns) down from 15.89% increase to a 12.5% increase (about $850,000 in reductions) and one option that demonstrates a 9.99% increase in taxes (about $1,500,000 in reductions).  These are clearly impactful amounts of money.  

     Thankfully, just yesterday afternoon, the Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) updated the yield projection which shown an increase of $55 which helps reduce the tax rate some, meaning I have to find fewer savings to hit the tax rate targets.  With the help of the yield, taking advantage of some attrition we are now aware of, dipping into the Education Reserve Fund, and reducing the construction services line, I believe I have found a path forward for us to realize the 9.99% increase in the Bristol tax rate (the larger spending reduction) without issuing any RIF notices

     This is great news and I hope it alleviates some of the anxiety many staff members are feeling and I hope the community receives this well as a significant attempt to address the tax burden. 

     That said, should the board decide we need to reduce further or not use as much education reserve fund, or if this budget fails, we would be looking at RIF notices.  I am optimistic that we may have avoided significant layoffs this time, but there will likely be more situations like this in our future without the safety nets we leaned on this time.  

     Essentially what we are doing is buying time that we need to use well.  I recognize the workload each employee carries even without significant reductions. Reductions, without any change in how we are structured, will likely only add to this workload. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to make the hard decisions to find the savings needed and organize ourselves in ways that make the employee workload more manageable while striving to improve outcomes for our students.  

     Before the next budget cycle is complete, I will be working with staff and school and district leaders to design options for ways to address our challenges.  Designs where we reduce spending as our community needs us to, improve the workload our workforce is carrying, and have confidence that we are designing a system that gives our students the best chance to succeed.  

     In the meantime, you can tune in to the board meeting on Monday night to hear what the board decides.  Part of the discussion at the meeting will be about the timeline for the process.  I have advocated for holding a budget revote on March 26.  This is the best chance we have to know we have a passed budget before I am required by the union agreement to issue contracts to licensed staff by April 1.  Without an approved budget I will have to assume a worst case scenario where we default back to the current budget figure which would mean more than $3 million in reductions.  This would result in many RIF notices that may be unnecessary if we are able to pass a budget on another attempt before the end of June.  

      Thank you for investing your time to become informed on these important issues.



Patrick Reen

MAUSD Superintendent