Revised 2/15/18

logo transp.jpg        

Ledyard Board of Education Budget

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for visiting the Ledyard Board of Education Budget FAQ page for the 2018-2019 budget development process.  Each year elected officials, team members, and members of our community present questions related to our budget. These questions can be financial in nature, or related to policy or operations. It is our goal to respond in a public forum, as transparently, and comprehensively as possible. If at any time the budget information or this FAQ document does not answer your questions, or if you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me at jhartling@ledyard.net. This document will be updated as new questions are presented and revision dates will be recorded in the document header.

Sincerely,

Jason S. Harting

Superintendent

Questions:

  1. We continue to hear about declining enrollment, is the district reducing staff to meet this decline?

Up until this school year, Ledyard had seen an enrollment decline like most districts across the State.  However, in this current school year, while the staffing remained flat,  the district saw an enrollment increase of almost 2%. The 2018-2019 enrollment forecast was 2418 - as of Dec 31, we have 2440 students enrolled.  

The 99 students over our budgeted enrollment represents about $1.5M in funding the system absorbed without additional appropriation from the Town.  This resulted in increased class size and put a significant strain on our system.

  1. During the Board Meeting Mrs. Fagan noted the number of staff reductions at LHS. What was the change in enrollment?

As has been the case with all of our schools enrollment has declined over the past several years. Enrollment at LHS has dropped 28.33% since 2007 with a staff reduction of 20.78%. Please note we utilized CTSDE data to validate the chart below.

  1. What are we doing to reduce our outgoing magnet numbers and increase the incoming?
    School choice is an option in Southeastern CT and in some cases represents an opportunity for a learning experience that is not provided in Ledyard. We continue to work at engaging and informing our community and new residents about Ledyard Public Schools. This same engagement is expanded to those communities that have agreements to send tuition or AgriScience students to Ledyard High School.

  1. How much do we spend on magnet school students going to other districts?

For the 138 students attending magnet schools in 2018-19, it is estimated the cost to Ledyard will be about $773,282. This cost is broken down into tuition expenses, special education expenses and an allocation of district overhead expenses.

  1. Please explain your rationale for cutting the Family Consumer Science (FCS) Department? This is an important elective that should not be eliminated, can’t something else be cut?

In comparison to the other three, strictly elective departments- Music, Tech Ed and Visual- with two teachers each-  FCS serves the fewest number of students for the fewest number of credits.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, the two FCS teachers served a total of 215 students, who can cumulatively earn 198 credits. With the schedule we have planned for next year, we will continue to offer all of the FCS courses, with fewer sections.  If  they run at capacity, we can serve 178 students, who can cumulatively earn 120 credits. This means we can continue to serve 83% of the students we are serving this year in FCS, and they can earn 61% of the credits they could have earned this year. However, those numbers can improve if the classes are actually enrolled to capacity- currently they are not.  Cuts from other elective courses would have a much more dramatic impact and would also force us to eliminate course offerings.

As is the case in Art, Tech Ed, Music, and some core-area electives (such as Modern Genocide, Public Speaking, Anatomy and Physiology, etc.), the number of student requests for a course exceed the initial capacity of the course. Despite this, in the end many operate under capacity because interest changes or other courses are taken. We  cannot simply prioritize credits over students served. Both are important indicators, but often it's having a place that fits into the student’s complex, unique schedule that drives the process. A comprehensive high school must serve the needs of the majority.

Culinary I and II are both capped at 20 students for space concerns. If we run six sections, one teacher’s full teaching load, we can only ever serve a maximum of 120 students in culinary, regardless of the number of students who request it. Similarly, Child Development and Interior Design are capped at 20, Clothing is capped at 16, and Understanding Self and Relationships is capped at 22, all because of space constraints.

Culinary I (formerly called Foods) has always been one credit. The change in making Culinary I a 1/2 credit may allow more students access and fit into their schedule to that particular course. Culinary II (formerly called Culinary Essentials) used to be a half-credit, but this year was changed to a full credit. Moving forward both Culinary courses would be a half-credit.

Initial course request data from last year shows a large number of requests for Culinary I (174). Despite these high initial request numbers, in the end, all but one section of the Culinary classes is under the 20 student cap; the same is true for the other Family Consumer Science classes- all but one is at capacity.

Initial interest/demand doesn't carry through to actual enrollment despite the number of sections. A course may have high requests but it may not fit due to graduation requirements and students often decide on other choices. Finally, in analyzing this data, I see that a few of  the FCS courses show little primary interest;  Clothing for example, had only 20 students who selected it as a primary choice.

The one teacher we will have remaining has certification to teach all of the courses, thus we can balance and respond based on requests and actual fill rates. Even with the one position cut from Family and Consumer Science, we are able to continue to offer the same courses for our students, just a smaller number of total sections.  

  1. Is there the potential to close Ledyard Center School sooner and moving kids over next year and reflect that cost savings in this budget?

This question was raised by the Mayor at a Joint Finance meeting in December. In response, our team reviewed the current enrollment, class sizes, space and costs related to deploying portable classrooms.  Due to the enrollment at LCS and GHS, we don't have the room to consolidate the schools earlier. The associated portable building costs ($700K) were far greater than the minimal savings we might achieve through an early consolidation. We have to wait until the construction is completed.

  1. How many students do we have sitting in study halls at the high school? Shouldn’t we expand the number of electives to combat the rising numbers of students in study halls?

The number of students in Study Halls has actually decreased in rough correlation to the overall enrollment of LHS. While the number of students in study halls is down, when we examine the class lists there are still openings available in various elective classes in the schedule. Study Hall is a big request for Seniors, so pushing the number down further can also be a challenge at times.

  1. Looking over the budget binder - in particular A-2 - I see we are spending $63,000 on consultants to work on the middle school schedule and the potential redistricting coming up to the merge of GHS and LCS. I would like a cost break down of how much each of those items cost - the vendor we plan to use - and if we have already signed contracts?

The Board approved a two-year contract with District Management Group for the Elementary Scheduling work; continuing that work to the Middle School is the next phase. In 2019-20,  Ledyard Middle School will move from its existing 7 & 8 Grade model to an expanded 6 through 8. This change is our opportunity to examine the staffing and programing model at LMS to ensure we are both effectively utilizing our resources and developing a schedule that improves student programing- all while maximizing teacher/staff utilization.

Pricing for the Middle School phase/project has not been completed,  so there is only a placeholder amount for the 18-19 SY. If we execute that work, it is estimated at $30,000 to $40,000, though the scope of work will dictate.

The second placeholder in 53400 is for the redistricting of the elementary tier; it has not been contracted. We utilized the recent numbers East Lyme received for the same work in their district,
 and it is expected to be between $20,000 and $25,000.  This includes the data analysis, several community meetings and a final proposal to the Board for approval of the restructuring. There are a few vendors that provide this work, with varying detail and quality.

With the closing of LCS, and moving 6th grade from the elementary tier buildings, it will be necessary to redistrict in order to balance the student population between Gales Ferry and the new elementary school at Gallup Hill.