Senate Bill 786 - Just The Facts

Provisions within the bill that affect NFA specifically are §11b, 12b, c, d, e, and f, lines 407-445, pp. 14-16. These provisions represent an unprecedented, unnecessary, level of oversight and governmental overreach upon a successfully and transparently governed nonprofit providing outstanding opportunities to the region’s students and exceptional value to NFA’s Partners.

A link to the full bill is provided below.

Full text of Senate Bill 786 with highlights regarding NFA

Transparency

Master Agreement

  • 5-year Master Agreement (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2020) with all NFA Partner Districts with tuition agreement in each of the first three years.
  • Master Agreement negotiated between former NFA Board of Trustees (BOT) Chairman Attorney Ted Phillips '74, and former Lisbon Board of Education (BOE) Chairman Randy Baah '65.
  • Mr. Baah was selected as the negotiations liaison by the 8 Partner Districts.
  • Negotiated agreement includes the following relevant provisions:
    • Dispute Resolution Procedure (p.5)
    • Noticing Process (p.5)
    • Non-renewal terms & conditions (p.4)

Bi-Monthly Superintendent Meetings

Properly Noticed Board of Trustees Meetings

Board of Trustees Meetings - Public Meetings subject to FOIA

Budget Process - Public approval process, budget presented to the media in a briefing session, budget summary provided to Partner District Superintendents, agreed upon tuition increase for the first three year of the 5-year Master Agreement.

Public Hearing - Each Partner District has a local public budget hearing(s) and in most cases a referendum. Thereby, contractually agreed upon NFA tuition costs are presented for public scrutiny/input in advance of any budget adoption process in each Partner District.

Annual Audit - BlumShapiro - NFA and the NFA Foundation, Inc. are audited annually; Form 990 and IRS filings are public documents.

Annual Report - Public document, posted electronically, provided to media.

Independent Governance

-NFA Board of Trustees drawn from a Board of Corporators. By-Laws require 66% of the NFA Corporators to reside in Norwich.

-Current Board of 12 Members = 9 from Norwich, 1 from Preston, 1 from Franklin, and 1 from Canterbury.

-Current Board Chair is from Norwich & 3 immediate past Board Chairs have been Norwich residents.

-Annual oath taken to uphold the Mission of Norwich Free Academy.

-Trustees annually required to sign an Annual Certificate of Acknowledgement (Conflict of Interest Statement).

By design of the Founders, independence allows the school to be mission-driven, free of political or personal influence, conflict of interest and/or pressure of a Partner District.

NFA does not have an exclusive agreement with any Partner District.

Accountability

Compliance with CT Education Statutes - Includes but is not limited to the following: State testing (Grade 10 CAPT Science and Grade 11 SAT), Professional Certification, Graduation Credits, Required School Days & Hours of Instruction, Collaborative School Calendar (LEARN Region), SDE Evaluation Standards & Professional Growth Requirements (Teachers and Administrators), Teachers’ Union-CEA Affiliate, etc.

Value

Average Per Student Cost - NFA 2016-17 Average per Student cost is lower than the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) reported 2014-15 PreK-8 Per Pupil Expenditure and the 2015-16 PreK-8 Net Current Expenditures per Pupil (NCEP) in each Partner District of ($15,934).

Supplemental Financial Support for Partner Districts
Norwich Public Schools receives a $200/per student discount for municipal services (approximately $300,000 in 2016-17). NFA doubled the discount ($100 to $200) as part of the negotiation of the new Master Agreement which began on July 1, 2015.

  • NFA Foundation, Inc. provided $5.9 million in tuition subsidization over 5 years (2013-14 through 2017-18).
  • NFA Foundation, Inc. provided additional $1.2 in restricted endowed support over 5 years.
  • NFA Foundation, Inc. provided $1.2 million in scholarships and awards to 1,149 students over 4 years.

Financial & Value Information

1. (2016-17) Average Cost Per NFA Student – Based upon NFA’s Oct. 1, 2016, Tuition Invoice
The average tuition figures below are determined by dividing the invoiced total of all tuitions (general education, special education, and specialty programs) divided by the number of students for each Partner District attending NFA as recorded on the official census, October 1, 2016.

Bozrah $13,510 / pupil
Canterbury $13,152 / pupil
Franklin $12,854 / pupil
Lisbon $13,192 / pupil
Norwich $14,162 / pupil
Preston $13,067 / pupil
Sprague $13,064 / pupil
Voluntown $13,277 / pupil

2. Data from the Connecticut State Departement of Education (SDEC)

(2014 -15) Audited CSDE Per Pupil Expenditure - Pre K-8

Bozrah $18,588 / pupil
Canterbury $18,207 / pupil
Franklin $16,949 / pupil
Lisbon $16,762 / pupil
Norwich $15,575 / pupil
Preston $19,785 / pupil
Sprague $13,763 / pupil
Voluntown $15,663 / pupil

3. Data from the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDEC)

(2015-16) CSDE Net Current Expenditures Per Pupil (NCEP)

Bozrah $17,519 / pupil
Canterbury $17,525 / pupil
Franklin $15,319 / pupil
Lisbon $17,042 / pupil
Norwich $16,260 / pupil
Preston $16,613 / pupil
Sprague $13,555 / pupil
Voluntown $19,440 / pupil

4. Data from the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDEC)

(2014-15) Audited CSDE Per Pupil Expenditures – Grades 9-12

Average 2014-2015 PPE (Grades 9-12) = $15,934

Compare this figure to the 2016-2017 Average Per Student Costs by School District in Item #1 above.

Conclusion

This per student cost comparison demonstrates the value proposition of the NFA experience to NFA’s Partner Communities.

Essential Question: What do NFA Partner Districts get for their tuition dollars?

Answer: Unparalleled opportunities and choices in a transformative high school experience.

Opportunities & Choices

Every student who attends NFA chooses to attend. Students and their families select NFA from the many high school choices available to them.

1. Students have unparalleled opportunities and choices at NFA that include but are not limited to the following:

  • 250 course selections
  • 50 College Credit bearing courses (Concurrent Enrollment and Advanced Placement)
  • 38 Visual & Performing Arts Courses (Fine Arts Diploma Option Available)
  • 8 World Languages including American Sign Language (ASL)
  • Approximately 70 Clubs and Activities
  • Over 30 Interscholastic Athletic Programs (many fielding Freshmen, JV, and Varsity teams)
  • Unified Classes, Clubs and Activities, and Sports

2. Norwich Free Academy’s Partners also have access to highly comprehensive special education services, without which, outplacement for many would be likely. Those programs include:

  • ABLE – Activity Based Life Education
  • ILS – Independent Living Skills
  • ACES – Alternative Curriculum for Educational Success
  • PACE – Program for Academic & Career Education
  • Resource Program

3. Norwich Free Academy Partners also have access to a robust menu of specialty programs serving students in unique life circumstances. Those programs include:

  • Sachem Campus Alternative High School Program
  • Norwich Free Academy Night School
  • APS Evening Program – Alternative Pathways to Success
  • English Language Learners (ELL) Program & New Arrival Center

4. Norwich Free Academy students also participate in FREE Summer Enrichment and Support Programs at no additional cost to the Partner Districts. These programs include:

  • Step Up – Grade 9 Transitional Program
  • Strive – Academic Skills Enrichment – Grades 10-12
  • ELL Summer Academy
  • Sachem Campus Summer School Program
  • Summer Physical Conditioning
  • World Language Bridge Program
  • UCONN STEM Program
  • Mathematics Review & Bridge Programs
  • Marching Band Camp
  • Summer Engineering Workshop for Women
  • Wildcat Beginnings

5. Unique Academic Support Programs (Predominantly serving Norwich Students):

  • Alpha Unit – Literacy-based Grade 9 Program
  • New Arrival Center – English immersion program for incoming NFA students
  • Step Up, Strive, and ELL Summer Academy Programs – Refer to Item #4 above

Conclusion

  • NFA’s tuition is lower than the PreK-8 per pupil expenditure of each of our Partner Districts.
  • The educational opportunities, choices, and experiences that NFA provides for its students - and has provided for generations - are simply unmatched.
  • The transformative experience students have at NFA translates into very passionate and generous alumni donors.
  • People donate money to the NFA Foundation because they love their high school and believe in its independence.
  • The direct beneficiaries of NFA’s independence are the students, and that has been true for generations.