The Committee for Responsible Education Spending (opposing passage of the supplemental levy) has been going to different venues to speak. Our goal is to give people the fullest picture of what the levy will and will not do. I'll write up a separate thread and try to go through each statement by the district. (We did get support from Dem. district #11 who voted a No on their endorsement and the 43rd Dems voted to give no endorsement at all. It's interesting because some PTAs are choosing to remain neutral and/or still haven't taken a vote.)
One question we have gotten is "what happens to the teachers' raises if the levy doesn't pass?" We researched this question and here's the answer and readers can all try to decipher how it got bargained this way. (By the way, this is information the district and Schools First haven't answered at all.)
According to the contract, if the levy doesn't pass, the teachers will not get their raises for years 2 and 3. It does say that if the district did get a grant or other state/fed funding, that might pay for it.
The new TIF (teacher incentive fund) federal grant that was recently awarded to the district for $12.5M will help some teachers with incentive pay, mentoring programs, teacher evaluation and principal incentive pay. But that would only be for teachers at low-performing schools.
(I note that the district used some pretty big talk about what will happen with this grant.
"...most importantly, more than 16,000 students who will be led by
motivated, highly effective teachers and principals across 34 target high-need schools."
What? Boy, I want to see those stats when they come out because there is still no real evidence anywhere that pay incentives work for teachers. While I think the other items in the grant like professional development, mentoring and recruitment might help develop high-performing teachers, that's not guaranteed either.
Also, I missed this from my first reading of the press release:
Applicants were also required to demonstrate a high level of local educator support and
involvement and a plan for financial sustainability after the 5 year grant award period.
This is a HUGE issue. I'll have to ask for the grant application and see what the plan is. )
Also, the state just got $208M from the feds to preserve teacher jobs. The question here is how much will SPS get and how will they use it? Since we are the largest district in the state, it may be that we will get at least $20M. Here's what it says about how the money can be spent:
States can use the money only for "preservation of jobs serving elementary and secondary education," meaning jobs held by teachers, principals, classroom aides and other education-related personnel. The funds can't be used for equipment, utilities, renovation or transportation, nor can they be used to reduce a state's debt or tucked into a "rainy-day fund."
I don't know if "preservation of jobs" means giving raises. So I think the upshot is that if the levy doesn't pass (and if I'm right about the TIF grant and the federal teacher grant don't cover raises), then NO teachers will get raises.
So why did teachers agree to this?
On the one hand, maybe fighting for the $1K a year just isn't worth it to them. They are willing to take the hit if the levy goes down. On the other hand, they know levies nearly never fail so it isn't much of a risk. Also, if they had argued for a guarantee for the raise even if the levy did fail, the district would have to take it out of the Operating budget and that would have meant more cuts to school funding (given that the district cuts at schools more than central).
What is also interesting is that failure of the levy would delay further development of end of course assessments and expansion of MAP. That is interesting given how much confusion there is over MAP.
The delay of end of course assessments might help the high school science programs which have concerns over the district's wish to limit the number of science classes that will get credit towards graduation. The district is saying at least courses (biology, chemistry, integrated science and physics) would get graduation credit but not courses like computer science, engineering, marine biology, astronomy, etc.