District Budget - Roundup of Random Thoughts
Before going over what was discussed line-for-line, I wanted to throw out some items that popped out to me as ah ha! or oddities or questions.
- One thing to point out off the bat - and please help me out if you know for certain - is that on the sheet entitled "SPS 2011-12 (Gap) Estimate Summary" (bundled in a group of documents) was a total list of losses from the state. It STILL has Highly Capable as eliminated. I thought that got put back by both the House and Senate.
- They budget in about $1.16M to reopen Rainier View, Viewlands and McDonald/QA. I had forgotten that basically McDonald and QA will have TWO opening costs because they are first in Lincoln and then go to their own buildings this fall. Interestingly, I hear that Broadview-Thompson could handle Viewlands for another year so maybe the district could consider waiting one more year and save that money.
- STEM update - $100k. Look for that to be on-going. STEM came along at a time when the district really didn't need a new initiative (that or they should have never spent the funds on the SE Initiative).
- They are getting rid of the dual-principal idea at RBHS. Great - how about the two principals at Bryant? I slipped Kay a note about this as they were discussing how to backfill if the Board didn't want a cut the staff recommended. Kay brought it up towards the end of the discussion (more on that later) and looked at Dr. Enfield and said, "Wouldn't it save $30-50K if they had just a head teacher or vice-principal?" Dr. Enfield nodded but said nothing. I have no idea what the big mystery is here but again, they need to cut what isn't needed and you don't need two principals for a roughly 570 student high-performing elementary school.
- If you recall, I did a thread about what I had seen in an advance copy of the proposed cuts. Well, it turned out that the staff changed that copy. That's fine except that the Board and the SEA had the same advanced copy I did and came prepared to discuss that one and then got handed a new one as they sat down. The SEA reps pointed this out and Steve said, "It was new to us as well." WHY does no one ever call staff out on this? So, in going over the cuts, I saw they kept some of what they had initially eliminated. What is odd is that the number of FTE in certain areas had shifted and it was a "huh?" moment. I can see them changing their minds about a cut but how did the FTE suddenly get bigger or smaller?
- I noted that Lauren McGuire of the SCPTSA was there (for the entire meeting), a Stand for Children rep and, for a small amount of time, someone from the Alliance for Education.
- SEA reps, Olga Addae and Jonathan Knapp, were given a carefully proscribed time to speak (it almost seems like Steve was counting them down to the minute). Jonathan let them know that there are 3 (count 'em), 3 bills in the Legislature to eliminate the state test as a graduation requirement. Frankly, in these hard times, I say yes. The whole test is in such a shambles, there are end-of-course exams being developed AND national standards coming down the pike. Stop this spending of time and money on something that means almost nothing to anyone until we know what the powers that be truly want the test to represent.