Thursday, February 10, 2011

District Budget: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

I left after 5 hours at the Work Session on the budget. I know Dorothy Neville was still there so I hope she can fill in the rest. I have 18 pages of notes.

It was a room packed with staff and tension. It was clear this was not some exercise and staff was very careful to not name specific jobs (and therefore people) in their discussions. The entire Board was present, Dr. Enfield was there the entire time even though she had just learned of a death in the family and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was not there because of a health issue.

There were 3 handouts:
  • Budget Workshop, Feb. 9, 2010
  • Central Office Staff Reduction Proposal (note: Central Office, not Central Adm.)
  • A hodge-podge of different documents stapled together that included the above proposal, WSS Team Prioritization Reduction, Personal Contracts, etc. These are not vital documents so don't get worried if they are not on-line.
As soon as I see this posted at SPS, I'll link them.

I have two meetings this morning so I'm going to do a quick round-up and come back for detail.

The gap has been reduced (because of some new state numbers) to just under $35M, down from $36.6M.

Basically, to me, the district protected Central Administration very well. Dorothy did a quick accounting of where the cuts came from and here is what she came up with:

Central Administration - 5.7%
Instructional Supports - 47%
Operational Supports - 13%

The Board was given 4 cuts to schools:
  • One-third reduction in the Per Pupil (Supply) allocations - up to $3.2M
  • Eliminate .50 Elementary Counselor allocations - $2.6M
  • Eliminate .50 Certificated core allocations - $.08M
  • Eliminate .50 high school intervention specialists - $.04M
They voted to eliminate the top two. That would be $5.8 M. There was a protracted discussion around Pay for K as I left so I'll ask Dorothy for the final vote. I believe they did vote to raise the Pay for K tuition (but no known sum).

So it comes out to about $8.5M in Central Reductions and about $7.6 from schools.

Keep in mind. The idea was to keep cuts from schools. The idea is that our Central Administration is running large. (They hired one internal auditor and are hiring a second AND a manager for the two of them.) The idea was that the cuts from each side would not mirror each other so closely. I truly thought we would see about $10M from Central and maybe $5M from schools.

I can give you lots of detail and go through the list of departments but there are hard choices for schools to make going forward.

There is no appeal to these decisions, I believe. I have no idea why Board members told me that the public could contact them from now until the vote. I can't see how anything could change from here.

45 comments:

cascade said...

Any word from Seattle Teacher's Union today on the proposed cuts?

Dorothy Neville said...

Remember the promise from the controversy over the levy? The board promised to budget schools first?

Well, we sort-of kind-of a little bit got that if you spin it right. You see, earlier staff recommendations had cut Central by 4 million, cut schools by 12 million. So the happy face spin on last night was that they sort of reversed that.

To clarify my back of the envelope calculations: the strict definition of Central Administration (superintendent, HR, Accounting, etc) currently has about $19M budget and they will cut that by less than 6%. Entire divisions such as accounting (16+ FTE) and budget (7 FTE) will not have to find one single person to cut (OK, budget is claiming a cut because they have a vacant position they won't fill, they used to have 8 people in budget), not one single efficiency to take except for a three day furlough (assuming they are not represented which I believe some classified staff are).

Instructional support has about a 4 million dollar budget and will get cut 47%. Operations has a 35 million dollar budget and gets cut 14%. Bye-bye custodians and maintenance workers.

Last night they went all through this exercise, line by line through all these categories and had real angst over cutting one HR position, but didn't even question not cutting any of accounting or payroll (10 FTE). And the HR? Well, the new Chief Talent Officer was as off topic last night as she was when she first spoke to the board and showed she was clueless about the teacher hiring phases.

As far as I could tell, she wants more people (although the proposal was cut 3.5 FTE which the board reduced to cutting 2.5) because of all the extra work due to the evaluations in the CBA and PASS contract. What about the millions of TIF grant money going to administering the evaluation process? What she really seemed to be saying was that she needing folks with a different skill set than she currently had.

So anyway, they did all this angst and reversed staff recommendations by restoring a couple positions, THEN discussed cutting the WSS. No, they were not happy to cut elementary school counselors, but they did.

cascade said...

And are instructional supports coaches? Confused.

Dorothy Neville said...

The Pay4K thing. Well, evidently I listen differently than Sherry Carr. I have been at all the same meetings she has been and I understood the staff proposal. Evidently she hadn't. Now that she has she is exposing some significant flaws.

See the district covers one full day K teacher per school and the rest all have to be paid for with tuition. To make it fair, everyone (except FRL) pays the tuition.

The district proposes to stop that subsidy and save $2.1M. But they still consider themselves a full day K district. There are NO half day programs. Simply opting out of paying tuition means one leaves the all day program halfway through the day.

My interpretation of that was that tuition would go up about 25% or so and there would be more chaos as more parents opted out of paying it so there would be more kids attending part time for a program that is not designed to be attended part time. Sherry evidently thought that it meant we would reinstate half day kindergartens. Now that she understands, she objects to the $2.1M figure. She thinks the savings will be less because more will opt out. Someone else countered that it is still a bargain compared to daycare. But she is correct that we have no idea how many will be willing for fork up about an extra $700 a year. And if everyone enrolls for all day K (the only option) but then gets the contract in August, we won't know until then exactly how the numbers add up for kids staying all day vs going home at lunch. Ditto with transportation.

Dorothy Neville said...

Reductions in "coaching" related things (I put that in quotes because clearly the Instructional Support budget of $4M doesn't cover all coaches and does cover managers)

ELL. three FTEs at an average salary and benefits of $94K cut. 2.5 FTE coaches remain.

Math/Science manager to be consolidated with overall reduction of 1.5 FTE

Systemic Interventions (ie, RtI pilots) drastically cut from 7.2 FTE down to 2.7.

SPED got some cuts, but they were so vague (purposefully vague, no job titles or positions or names so that the board and public would have to take what they say on faith) I have no idea if that's a good or bad thing given the SPED issues. (14.25 FTE down to 10.25)

cascade said...

And my friend just told me HR has something like 30+ employees AND more grant-paid employees. And yet they need more? This is an incredible daylighting of a pathetic department. Slice that number in half. You have a world-class enterprise SAP solution and payroll apparently isn't even in the same cost center as HR. What the ()*@#(@*&$ do these people do besides cover the district's butt in personnel conflict cases?

Anonymous said...

"SPED got some cuts, but they were so vague (purposefully vague, no job titles or positions or names so that the board and public would have to take what they say on faith) I have no idea if that's a good or bad thing given the SPED issues. (14.25 FTE down to 10.25)"

Getting specifics about SPED these days is like trying to get access to the Crown Jewels. Will the Board EVER get this matter in hand? There is an enormous waste in special education middle management. Where is the leadership to insist that these vague and untransparent goings on are stopped?

Frustrated parents

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for attending these meetings and reporting back for those of us who cannot attend. A grim, disappointing picture.

Quick clarification on your comment Dorothy, there is at least on 1/2 day K program I know of, at Coe Elementary and it is very popular. A large # of kids stay for the on-site program after their classes end.

PAL

Lori said...

The whole Pay for K thing still really bothers me, philosophically, logistically, morally. You name it.

How is it "fair" to ask next year's parents to pay more than this year's parents for the same service? Three years ago, I think we paid maybe $170/month, now it's $207, and it's going to go up to what? About $260 if it's a 25% increase? Every increase prices some families out of the option, and in this economy, it's probably even harder.

If full-day K is beneficial, then we need to provide it for all kids, not just the ones whose families can afford it. Seriously, this is a public school system; how do we continue to justify a two-tier Kindergarten system based on ability to pay?

We know from this year that the district can't even collect the funds in a timely manner. Raise the fee, increase the number of half-day students, and the logistics will be even worse.

At what point will the option of half-day-only K be on the table? If that's all the district can pay for, then I think we need to discuss going back to morning K and afternoon K, with one teacher teaching both. Teacher is one FTE but teachers twice as many kids. Parents no longer have to pay. Those who want to pay for enrichment can put their kids in afterschool activities.

I'm not personally in favor of that. I think full-day K is important. But I'm also just exasperated living in a state where no one wants to pay collectively for anything. I wonder if families felt like the choice was half-day-only K versus central admin cuts, we'd get a lot more families demanding the central cuts and accountability.

(sorry for the rant; I am apparently cranky today!)

Anonymous said...

Did anyone take note of the Board vote(s): was it unanimous; or...

ken berry

Maureen said...

Eliminate .50 Certificated core allocations - $.08M


What does this mean in practice? Does it translate into larger class size? And should it read $0.8M? I can't imagine any across the board cut that would only save $80,000.

Was there any mention of what part of the WSS revisions they were able to retain? I.e., will classroom teachers be distributed in 1.0 increments? Please?

Maureen said...

An added wrinkle to Pay for K:

The new Transportation Service Standards currently have a change in the treatment of transportation for kids who opt out of full day K. If they are voted in on the 16th as drafted, those kids will only be eligible for transportation if they attend their attendance area school, not a different neighborhood school and not an Option school.

curious said...

PAL,
There is more than one half day K right now, but next year the district is going to all full day K.

Anonymous said...

Curious,
Thanks! Did not know that plan for next year - wonder if the incoming folks at Coe know it?

Maureen,
We have a a 0.5 FTE Cert at our school - based on current enrollment, couldn't quite get up to another full Cert. Does this mean they are rounding DOWN to save money? holy crap. cut that accounting dept and hr dept and whatever else first.

Crazy!

PAL

Anonymous said...

Here's my modest proposal: let's redraw the boundaries of Oregon and Washington so as to divide the states east/west rather than north/south. Tim Eyman and his gang of hicks and teaparty idiots can live a 19th century life in the west part of the region and the new state of SeaPort can tax itself at a reasonable level to provide the kind of 21st century education our kids deserve. People can the vote with their feet.

Signed, It's Time for Some Really Radical Ideas

Dorothy Neville said...

PAL, I am not surprised that there are some half day programs, but that is not how staff represented it to the board last night. They insisted that they are a completely Full Day K district.

Yes, Lori, if we simply go back to half day kindergartens everywhere and for all, the district would save money and we would eliminate some capacity issues. Transportation would go up as they would be shuttling kids to and from school at noon (the way it used to be). Wasn't this very proposal on some list for possible capacity solutions last year or so?

Frustrated Parents: bingo. That's the way it was for everything, not just SPED, staff keeping all the talk purposefully vague. Other big areas of vagueness were in Communications (how would this affect parents? how much would simply reduce ability to write press releases?) and Technology (proposed drastic cuts would eliminate televising school board meetings. No real talk of any other scenarios.)

See, part of the issue is that with reductions, staff will have to reorganize how functionality is managed. Since they haven't done that exercise yet, any wee little cut to central admin looks scary and dangerous. But of course it is easier to save millions by simply eliminating elementary school counselors. (and they haven't done that exercise of trimming staff and becoming more efficient because????? they haven't known about the need for cuts for the last couple years? because they correctly assumed their jobs were secure because they could still convince the board that there is fat in the WSS to trim? argggg)

As for the SEA position. Glen Baffia (I think it was him) said that the "new aggressive interpretation of the CBA will result in more grievances and all the HR top staff is new and inexperienced in this." I put that in quotes but it is not 100% word for word, but about 95% word for word of what he said.

Olga Addae said that the CBA has language (and has for years) stating that the district promises to do a number of cost cutting things before resorting to RIFs. One of those is delaying textbook purchases. And we have this 5.9M in textbook adoptions that some board members insist we push through because voters were promised in the supplemental levy. CBA was signed before the levy was passed...

Kathy said...

The district reported only 20 half time K students within SPS.

Anonymous said...

I am extremely disturbed by the cuts to elementary counselors. My children go to very good schools (according to SPS ratings), but there still is a lot of bullying, and behavior problems, both in school and on the bus. So I can only imagine what the schools with more challenges face daily. The counselors are crucial, for catching and defusing the problems before they escalate into dangerous situations.
How do we stop this, some cuts perhaps, but 50%? while central admin. cuts only 6%? What do those people do that are as crucial?
Should we write to the Board, perhaps sending them emails everyday, get testimonials from the kids and parents? All go stand in front of JS Center? Any ideas?

Very worried SPS Parent

Butter Goats said...

I'm with anonymous at 10:58 am, but I think he/she means Eyman and friends can have the east side. At least I hope so. :)

Sarah said...

Very Worried SPS Parent,

Regarding cuts to elementary school counselors (and WSS)- write the board of directors, notify your community to the write board and testify need for elementary school counselors.

A couple years ago the district tried to eliminate elementary counselors ($2M) while installing $4M dollars worth of computers for MAP testing.

Goodloe Johnson is more concerned about ineffective ed. reform (such as constant testing) than supporting our teachers!

Ask the board to insist cuts remain at central HQ--until HQ expenditures align with other districts.

Chris said...

Regarding K:

The choice seems to be between providing half-day options and bussing kids from families who opt for that home in the middle of the day

vs

providing ONLY much more expensive full day options and bussing kids from families who can't pay home in the middle of the day.

That they propose only the latter doesn't surprise me since this is an organization that believes in sticks, not carrots. Of course there's the magical thinking that people can and will pay...How's that going this year?

Separately, I have heard central will retain collections for Pay4K which is disappointing because schools seem much more efficient at both collecting and spending the money.

mirmac1 said...

The other night, the special education parent advisory group SEAAC heard that ratios would decrease in ICS from the impossible 22:1 to a still dreadful 18:1. Again, totally vague about how they would actually accomplish this. I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

My sons school has one fullday K/first grade split and one half day K with 26 kids in it. The district is wrong about there being only 20 half day kids district wide. Is there nothing to be done to force them to tell the truth about anything?

SLP

Anonymous said...

All of this is frustrating. At our school, our PTA will be doing a big push for Spring auction to get parents to contribute more using the BIG BUDGET GAP as the reason. There will be lots of scary talk to shake the $ and (sense ) cents from us. We keep ponying up and voting for these school levies and yet I never hear the PTA speask up about the WASTE downtown and incoherent management of SPS.

You talk about organizing, but you can't get the PTSA or much from SEA publicly. So may be they are doing it behind close doors. Well, that would be great, except it doesn't seem very effective. So it is the muckrackers and individual concerned citizens that bring the pitiful cronyism, mismanagement, incompetence to the light of day.

Let's face it, things won't change, until the power that be (the media -Seattle Times, the Great Philanthropists, our Board, the Mayor and his council, etc.) are embarassed or faced with voter's ire and rejection of the next educational levy.

I am so fed up, because none of this is about our kids!! It is for someone's historical legacy, job security, political aspirations, and social standing.

Mad SPS parent

Meg said...

I found the whole "reduction" exercise intensely frustrating. First, the list of cuts were, once again, to the "central office," not Central Administration, which is why custodians were part of the "central cuts" discussion. Central Administration actually has expense category definitions from OSPI – and while some of that can be open to interpretation, it does cover an explicit group of expenses. The definition of “central office” is a personal one and can be interpreted in whatever way your mood of the moment inspires you to define it.

The reduction exercise was only for "baseline" funded employees, and so did not include a significant portion of Central Administration FTEs, many of which, in other budget cycles, have had their expenses shifted to grants (rough count brings me to about 176 Central Administration FTEs – which leaves somewhere between 80 and 140 who weren’t in the count, and that’s not counting the fact that there are about 50 central administration staff who are paid from the capital fund). Central Administration is larger than the sum of the FTEs listed on the cuts sheet.

If a real reduction – which would require rethinking Central Administration’s role and restructuring accordingly – is the goal, then the whole administrative organization needs to be considered. Unfortunately, without willing cooperation from district management or explicit, strong direction from the school board, we get this kind of narrowly interpreted nonsense that makes itty bitty cuts here and itty bitty cuts there and lots of cuts to… maintenance. Yeah, I was super, extra worried about all the overpaid asbestos removal guys, the electricians and the gardeners running around downtown.

Should cuts to areas like maintenance be considered? Yes. Nothing should be off the table. But district management, by refusing to openly put all of Central Administration up and be willing to consider lopping off whole sections of it, has left a huge expense segment off the table, and yet are quite willing to leave every bit of the expense chain for schools on the table.

Were the (again with the "non-grant") personal service contracts discussed at all? They added up to quite a lot, and yet few had any significant portion listed as “non-required.” Why are the services of a consulting company “required?” Also... looking at that list, it looks like SPS may already outsource fairly significant legal expenses.

Dorothy Neville said...

Recall that some of us opposed the supplemental levy because the funds were pretty clearly in support of continuing with continuing with downtown initiatives. Sure, textbooks with some of the money (and now we see that is in jeopardy as a conflict with the CBA, a potential lawsuit from SEA to the district?) but the rest was for increasing HQ infrastructure to pay for all this expensive evaluation process and raises for teachers. Yes, they got the TIF grant to do that but no we are not seeing the savings from the supplemental levy part put into classrooms. Almost 10% of the TIF grant is simply to manage it. That's in addition to the increases in Research Evaluation and Assessment and Data systems folks to create the evaluation framework (which as we all know is based on junk science. one cannot use two years of student test scores to transparently and reliably assess instruction.) What percent of the TIF grant actually goes to teachers? Doesn't look like a lot.

Where was the PTA at the time? Well the SCPTSA president at the time told me that she knew the money was not for schools but that it supported ed-reform initiatives. She SUPPORTED those initiatives. And now she is working for the State PTA as a lobbyist in Olympia.

Sure, everyone said don't starve schools. Sure, everyone said give them the money and THEN push for protecting schools. Where has SchoolsFirst! been after celebrating the levy passing? Not present. Sharon Rodgers? No meetings. Ramona Hattendorf? No budget or audit/finance meetings, no workshops at all -- nothing to inform her lobbying with actual information instead of staff spin. Lauren McGuire, the new interim SCPTSA president has started to attend meetings, but doesn't appear to be skeptical enough of staff information. She spun the budget workshop materials just the way the staff wanted, to imply the strategic plan spending was cut (it wasn't, it was increased, just not as much as their heart's desired.)

And that SCPTSA budget workshop this past Monday? That was to get parents ready to understand how to deal with cuts to school budgets, NOT to be advocates to cut central administration.

So, in response to those who said, "Starving the district of funds will never help." I say that the better metaphor is cancer. One DOES want to starve the tumor. Only then can you save the patient.

(why didn't the PASS contract with raises to principals increase the gap? why isn't the supplemental levy funds clearly listed as reducing the gap? why is central administration only cutting itself about 1.1 Million, 6%, while the WSS gets cut 5+ million dollars AND other cuts are in the works with affect schools.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

"We keep ponying up and voting for these school levies and yet I never hear the PTA speask up about the WASTE downtown and incoherent management of SPS."

Yes on both counts. We do what the district wants and yet they do almost nothing of what matters to parents. PTSA is a nice organization but they, too, do little to push back. If our Seattle Council PTSA were to push back hard, I think it would be quite a surprise to the Board and the Superintendent AND would have many parents rallying around them. If the PTSA were to say to members, here's when and where we are going to rally, people would show up.

PTSA and LEV and all these people "promise" to hold the district accountable and they never do. It's a pity. And it makes them less effective and less believable.

Dorothy Neville said...

Think about it next Fall. If you join your school's PTA then almost ten dollars of that trickles upstream to Seattle Council and state and national PTAs. What are they doing for your school?

If you simply donate some money to your PTA (or other PTO) then 100% of that money stays in your school. The only folks who have to become members are officers. A school only needs 25 members to be in good standing with the state PTA. So why should parents work to get hundreds of PTA members? Why not work to get 30 or 40 members and then ask for donations. It's tax deductible for you either way.

Kathy said...

The budget process was changed to fund classrooms first.

A WSS committee was formed to insure classrooms would be taken care of.

I was particularily disturbed to hear more than one director willing to take $5M out of WSS.

I'm still trying to figure out where dollars from merit pay etc. come from. TIF? If so, are there enough dollars in this bucket? I'm not confident the district has a handle on these figures.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kathy, the money is there in the TIF grant but in a previous thread I pointed out that just under half the grant is for merit pay. The rest is for more staff and overhead. It's very odd.

Cascadian Chronicler said...

In response to Maureen:

When the district is facing a budget crisis, why is transportation being provided to any school besides the attendance area school for anybody beyond those who have a specific need the attendance area school cannot fulfill (such as SPED), or for those assigned to another school because their attendance area school is full beyond capacity?

Seattle has tried for too long to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to the costs of the school "choice" system, which doesn't even work well.

Anonymous said...

I never join the PTAs. I do however contribute to my children's schools, often very targeted, like funding scholarships to camps and field trips or purchasing specific supplies for a teacher so I know it gets exactly where I want it to go.

Po3

amsiegel said...

To Cascadian: we provide at least minimal choice to provide at least minimal equity. It's hard enough to explain why some people's tax dollars buy their kids a golden education while others' buy their kids an awful one without closing off the last of the scape hatches.

We also provide at least minimal choice to take advantage of the unique opportunity that large districts have to maximize utility by offering a diversity of learning environments to kids with different interests and personalities.

Finally, we offer at least minimal choice to avoid the kind of tribalist, exclusivist mentality that certain neighborhoods develop about their schools under systems like the NSAP.

And that doesn't even begin to address the desecrating effects that a move back to neighborhood schools has gradually enabled.

Seattle did choice badly and won't be going back any time soon, but that doesn't mean that there aren't costs to losing serious choice or that the little bit of choice promised by the NSAP should be gutted.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy, did you actually go to the SCPTSA budget workshop Monday? There was plenty of push to advocate, and plenty of hard questions asked to the 3 board members, Chief Academic Officer, and Financial Officer. PTA has a unique role-- the "P" and the "T" both are crucial members, and they often have differing opinions about where, for example, cuts shoudl be-- as a boiled-down example, the "P" thinks lower class size is important, and the "T" have said that they don't mind if class size goes up as long as they are not RIF'd. It seems a typically Seattle-process-style mistake to think there's one way to advocate. We NEED all of us-- the loud voices at the edges (and those of us that go and carry those same themes into "mainstream" discussion with school officials). Why not embrace the spectrum of groups and styles? In the long run, in my mind, it gets us farther.

PTA-- PLUS your way

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...the "P" thinks lower class size is important, and the "T" have said that they don't mind if class size goes up as long as they are not RIF'd"

Was there a teacher at that meeting who actually said that? I honestly find that hard to believe given how selfish it would sound.

Together or in a spectrum of groups - no one gets listened to and the PTSA can't say they get listened to any better.

I think Dorothy's idea is great and I would advocate it as well. Don't join the PTSA, just donate to your school's.

Dorothy Neville said...

No, I did not attend. I am going by the published description of what was on the agenda: Understanding school budgets in a time of cuts.

See the link I sent that described what to expect? And see how it spun an increase of strategic plan funding (while schools face cuts) into just what the staff wants people to think -- that they are actually cutting the strategic plan?

Sure, let's have multiple voices with multiple agendas. That's the democratic way. We all work for change or for no-change if that's preferred.

Yes, if you approve of the direction of the state PTA effort, if you approve of the work of the SCPTSA, by all means join the PTA and help pay for it. But if you do not approve, if you do not want part of your donation to your school siphoned off to agendas you do not support, then know you have the option to donate to your school's PTA without becoming a member.

And it shouldn't be about class sizes vs RIFs. Why are we fighting over crumbs when the central administration continues to be bloated and incompetent?

So there was pushback Monday night. Very good. Did it change anything about the decisions on Wednesday? The only thing it affected was that Sherry now says we cannot assume that cutting the All Day K subsidy will save 2 million dollars. She is now objecting to something she should have understood and objected to when it was first presented weeks ago. If it doesn't end up saving the expected 2 million dollars, do you think the folks downtown or kids in the classrooms are going to feel the effect?

Anonymous said...

Dorothy,

Why not run for the Board?

You and I may disagree on some of the finer points but all in all you are sharp and committed and actually take the energy to understand. I would vote for you (and at the same time I would be hoping you'd work to bring lots of groups to the table, like PTAs and PTAs and CPPS, etc., and approach each understanding it can do some things other groups can't)

About this: "the "P" and the "T" both are crucial members, and they often have differing opinions about where, for example, cuts shoudl be-- as a boiled-down example, the "P" thinks lower class size is important, and the "T" have said that they don't mind if class size goes up as long as they are not RIF'd."

This was not a subject of the meeting; this comes from discussions with many parents on the one hand, and with SEA building representatives on the other: all PTA members!

Dorothy, RUN for Board.

PTA PLUS

Anonymous said...

PTA PLUS our way,
Yes, our family has been following that WAY for 7 years now. We've written easily over $7,000 in checks for the PTA, chased down airline tickets, spa and cooking certificates etc. for auction after auction, chaired various committees, volunteered to tutor math, reading, and art, cleaned bathrooms, swept floors, and emptied trash. We are burnt out!

Yes, we know it is the economy, state and local budget shortfalls that contributed to the mess we are facing. But SPS' poor planning, mismanagement, and LACK of accountability only make things worse. The PTA's silent advocacy does not seem to be working.

We've tried to discuss this within our school's PTA, and the word is: thanks for your input, but the PTA is just a fund raising arm. The thing is we can NEVER fund raised enough to make up for the loss in WSS. Nor should we have to!

SPS parent

Maureen said...

I was at the SCPTSA meeting and it was helpful for what it was. Many of the questions I had were answered so now I will waste less time when our BLT meets to deal with the shredded remains of what SPS deigns to dribble down to the schools. I also learned a little about science alignment/materials and they had sandwiches.

It did seem to me that the panel (Duggan Harmon, Sherry Carr, Steve Sundquist and Susan Enfield) were more relaxed and forthcoming with the PTSA than they would have been with, say, the Alt Schools Coalition. I'm tired of meetings where the basic assumption is that any parent is there to slice out whatever they can for their own school or child even and so they have to resist telling you anything you might use against them.

The focus was very much on dealing with smaller building budgets, but that's what I was there for. I'm looking forward to seeing the answers to all of the questions they didn't get to posted on the SCPTSA website.

Greg said...

Unbelievable that the Board is going to let the superintendent get away with such small cuts to central administration. I don't even know what to say at this point.

KG said...

millysitGreg,

You could say that the Board is completely incompetent and we need a new one.

Eleuterio said...

@PTA plus: Teachers say loudly and clearly, "CLASS SIZE MATTERS".

But do the math. If teachers are RIFed, doesn't class size go up? There's the same amount of kids, divided by fewer teachers.

Teachers want the SAME things as parents. They want small classes, they want safe schools, they want great lessons, they want opportunities.

Ed-Deformers know that an alliance between the teachers and parents is dangerous, so they continue to put forward wedge issues that make distinctions (false distinctions).

The day when teachers and parents actually talk would be a powerful day indeed. This is what PTSA could be doing, and should be doing.

But it seems that, above the level of building PTSAs - that is, Regional and State PTSAs - have been completely charmed by the Gates & Broad Foundation agendas.

-from a parent, teacher, and PTSA member.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please clarify what
"Per Pupil (Supply) allocations" is? Does this have anything to do with full-time teacher staffing? thanks.

Anonymous said...

Correction for Dorothy- teachers have not recieved ANY raises. It was principals who received raises as now their work load is so much more difficult beating teachers over the head with the new evaluation system.

Dorothy Neville said...

What happened to the 1% raise teachers were supposed to get if the levy passed (or could have come from TIF?)? I know 1% isn't much, but it is a raise. Did that happen? I believe the PASS raise is higher though, but don't recall for sure, 3%???