- I concur with Charlie, with Meg Diaz, with Dorothy Neville and anyone else who has taken a look at the enrollment projections for next year. Something is not right that so many schools have lower numbers than this year. I have not heard anything yet to convince me this will be true. The district's demographer does not seem to be indicating that numbers will go down anywhere in the district.
- As I previously reported, CFO Robert Boesche stated that it is better to under-staff than over-staff schools. My question now, as then, is "Better for whom"? While I understand the need in these fiscally troubled times to go conservative, we are not a shrinking district. Also, when you under-staff at a school from the previous year, you may lose a teacher or staff member committed to that school. But if they are gone and have moved on (because, after all, they have to make a living and cannot wait and hope that their job will come back at that school), then you've lost them. And, the hiring pool is greatly diminished after October 1 so you may not be getting the best you can. Michael De Bell brought this up at the Board meeting.
- There was a contingent from Maple Elementary at the Board meeting who had several speaking spots and made a pretty good case for their school. They had a parent who has been a business analyst for 17 years looking at the figures. Their enrollment has run - for the last decade - over a certain figure (my notes reflect 460 but I could have it wrong but it has been stable). The district's projection is somewhat lower (by a few students) but that lower number means they lose a staff position. As the Maple community members stated, these are real children who will be affected by these changes. They, unfortunately, turned it into a North versus South issue because they had done their homework and found out that a school to the north had almost the same enrollment but their enrollment projection was ticked up a few spaces to where that school would keep their staff.
- At the Board meeting, there was discussion of this issue (and this was after public testimony so many people had left including the Maple community folks). Tracy Libros was asked about why their figure would be lower. She stated that they couldn't use the historical data because "it was from a different assignment plan." I found that dumb-founding because (a) she does have one year of data to show that the previous enrollment figure, even with a new neighborhood plan, had held and that discounting a figure that had held for 10 years at a previously named "assignment area" school should not be done.
- Rachel Cassidy, the district demographer, is going to look at the Maple issue. Robert Boesche said that they are still doing analysis so those figures could change (but Tracy said they wouldn't know until June). When I heard Tracy say that magic word - June - all I could think was "Danger Will Robinson!" (Sorry if you are too young to get that reference.) Meaning, folks when you get towards the end of the year, it is too late. The JS headquarters goes into sleep mode in the summer and you will get nothing out of them and no changes.
I know and can understand the worry at the district at over-staffing schools. I say look at the schools with the most sustained enrollment over the last 5-7 years and make sure they are fully staffed. If the district staff are wrong at one of those schools, and another school comes up high on its enrollment, move that staff person to the second school. (I know that is a simplistic way to put it but you see my point.)
The main thing is that it looks and sounds like the district is, at least partially, trying to balance the budget on the backs of schools. Cutting school staff on some newfound way to project lower enrollment projections seems wrong to me. I think the Board should hear - loud and clear - that parents are not happy.