Medford School Committee Tackles Budget Shortfall and Revenue Management

The Medford School Committee recently held a meeting focused on addressing a budget shortfall for FY24 and scrutinizing the district’s revenue management and collection practices. The Finance Director reported that the budget shortfall had been reduced to approximately $250,000 through various adjustments. The committee also engaged in discussions on potential deficits in revolving funds, revenue discrepancies in Community Schools, and the need for a review of program rates and fees.

The meeting commenced with an update from the Finance Director on the current financial status of the district, specifically the FY24 budget shortfall. The gap had been narrowed down to an approximate $250,000, which was received with relief by the committee. The Finance Director also provided an overview of Chapter 70 funding, noting changes in the past few years and explaining its impact on the school budget and net School spending. The importance of Chapter 70 funding was underscored, with a member suggesting a more in-depth session to further educate all members on this topic.

Chapter 70 funding continued to be a point of concern, especially regarding the rate of inflation used in the governor’s budget, which members felt did not align with actual inflation rates. Additionally, there was an in-depth conversation about the drop in low-income student enrollment in certain communities, though Medford was not among them. The committee examined the methodology for identifying low-income students based on state benefit programs and how this affects the foundation budget. The need for additional spending on interventionists and tutoring for low-income students was emphasized, along with a request for research into the trends of low-income student enrollment.

The committee scrutinized the school department’s revolving funds, which include various programs such as the ME program, Vocational School, and the Medford Family Network. There was concern over deficits in some of the accounts and an expressed interest in discerning whether these were temporary or indicative of a larger trend. The financial sustainability of certain programs, particularly the pool, was highlighted as a priority for management reviews.

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Questions were raised about the timing of revenue and expenses for revolving funds. The committee was keen to understand if observed deficits were anomalies or part of an ongoing trend. The potential need for journal entries to correct these deficits was discussed, as was the impact on the general fund if the deficits were to continue.

The meeting then shifted to a broader discussion on revenue management, beginning with the reconciliation of accounts and ensuring correct deposits to the city treasury. Concerns were raised about discrepancies in revenue for Community Schools, and the potential undercharging for the use of facilities like the pool. The committee considered raising rates to address these issues. The importance of creating a cohesive rate card for programs within the school was highlighted, alongside requests for reconciliation of athletic fees and processes for replacing lost Chromebooks and library books.

The discussion expanded to cover the accounting system around Student Activities, questioning the accuracy of staff expenses charged to Community Schools. A proposal was made for a chargeback plan to recover facilities and administrative costs from programs using school resources. However, concerns were also raised about the fairness of charging for spaces that may not always be available due to scheduling conflicts.

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The meeting included a breakdown of private grants and donations received, notably by the Medford Family Network and funding for the Center of Citizenship and Social Responsibility. The committee concluded with a decision to have an auditing firm review the revenue collection practices and provide recommendations for improvement. The meeting concluded with a motion to adjourn, which was unanimously passed.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Dr. Marice Edouard-Vincent
School Board Officials:
Breanna Lungo-Koehn, Nicole Branley, Jenny Graham, John Intoppa, Aaron Olapade, Erika Reinfeld, Paul Ruseau

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