Monday, May 31, 2010

BOE Must Get Serious About Saving Money ...

Next year's budget mess is predicted to be much worse with deeper cuts required to balance the local school budget. With enrollment down by over 2000 students, we MUST start shutting down some schools to realize some significant savings.

Which Schools Get Closed?

What Criteria Should Be Used For Deciding?

What Do We Do With Empty Buildings?

Do We Change The District's Structure/Organization?


Anonymous said...

Good questions
We should look at enrollment and class size guidelines. Then see how many buildings we need to accommodate that.
The buildings that should be vacated should be the oldest and most in need of repair or ones that developers want to buy. That would of course be Westridge. Sell the community center to Christa who already owes the bank 13 million for this building that he does not even own.
Next to go should be Odyssey with all the crime in the area break-ins and drugs...and the pollution underground and in the air. This building would go back to the estate that donated it. Put all secondary students in Apollo Olympia Arcadia and Athena and say goodbye to schools of choice. Sell Barnard.
Sell empty buildings. Some developers will buy the property even if they are going to knock the buildings down and put up houses or offices and stores.
Yes the structure and organization needs to be changed. The district should do a program and service review and start from scratch judging which programs we need using the state requirements as a guideline.
Begin again. Just like a family that falls on hard times we must look at our budget and assets and only spend on the essentials. Get rid of any people that are costing more money than what the children need to learn the basics.
It probably is a blessing in disguise that the unions are so stubborn about concessions. We will now be forced to cut programs that are non-essential. If they had offered to help by not taking raises or contributing more to health benefits we may not have seen the light.

Anonymous said...

1:23 - Add Barnard to the buildings closing list. I think that you need to begin by looking at the various design capacities each building had when constructed. Class sizes can vary but that really doesn't impact the number of rooms needed as much as some would have us believe. We need to find out how many schools turned classrooms into rooms used for other purposes, perhaps even non-instructional useages. Design capacity tells the bigger story.

Anonymous said...

It would be informative to see if there were any studies done on whether Barnard for example should be remodeled or vacated or sold. Who made the decision to close it as a school after all the work done on it during the capital improvement project?
It is ridiculous in this economy that we are insuring and paying the utilities on a building that is surplus. If we have the need for that much storage we are a dysfunctional district and need help. Are the staff really paying for memberships to exercise there? Since the parents started a save the westridge kindergarten facebook site, will someone start a let's get rid of the unnecessary property in greece central page?
Maybe that will alert developers to get in there with good bids.
Or would craigslist be better?

Anonymous said...

Explain to me how you can close a school or schools, I'm confused. You say there are 2000 students less, divide that by 13 grade levels, that's 153 students per grade level, divide that by 20 schoool, that's 7.6 students per school. I realize that is not scientific however it's not as if all 2000 students are from one area of the town and one level of the schools. So how do you close schools. I am not against doing aways with schools of choice and all the busing but I don't understand how you close a school given these numbers.

SCATS said...

To 6:28PM ~~ There are MORE than 2000 students less. My understanding is we are down to
about 12,200 from nearly 15,000 some years ago. Do you realize we can accomodate around 16,000 students? The fact that West Ridge's kindergarteners could have been rather easily dispersed back to their home schools is evidence that consolidation can be accomplished without all that much disruption. The key is wanting to do so ;)

SCATS said...

To 3:46PM ~~ I seem to recall Don Nadolinski talking about Barnard when the decision was made to use it for "storage." One "detrimental" aspect that I recall is that since the building has little room to expand either the facility or the parking lots, they are limited in what can be done. I think at this point it should be packaged with the empty drugstore and sold to some developer as a Town/GCSD two-fer package. Perhaps together there is enough space to make it into something readily useable and accessible.

SCATS said...

Too bad District office couldn't save us $50,000 by moving into Barnard instead of into Kodak Park this Summer.

Anonymous said...

The district has been sitting on this information for years this is not new news. So where are the proposals? the studies? the projections? the committee recommendations?

Please don't tell me there are none, as if 2000 kids were going to suddenly move to Greece OR "Shhh! maybe the public won't notice that there's almost 20% fewer students in the buildings."

Anonymous said...

First the logic, then the math.

Charlie Hubbard said...

Please tell me what issues the board has identified as problems.

You can't fix a problem until all agree there is a problem. I hear some whinning by board mmbers here and there but we constantly want talk about fixes before we have identified a problem.
Has anyone heard that we have too much space. How do you talk about closing a school 'first'. Anyone heard the amount of bussing we do as a 'problem'.

The latest of course is not having a second vote because of the extra $25k in spending. One would wonder now if the board is going to question any and all expendetures of $25k or more and if that spending is 'productive'

Anonymous said...

Enrollment information is in the public domain and available at the website:

Go to the Public Web portion, then select the year's report card you want to look at, on the next page select the county, then the school district. Finally select the Overview report and start to scroll through it for enrollment figures. There's a lot of helpful information there (not just enrollment)that can help you trend the data, compare Greece to other districts, etc. The data are not very timely, but even missing the most recent year, the data is revealing. Navigating takes a bit of practice, but it can be mastered.

Enrollment in 1999-2000 was 13904 total students and in 2008-09 was 12298. That's about 1600 students fewer students in the district.

Anonymous said...

Do we know what was cut to create the cont. budget?
I have not read all posts so sorry if it has been posted.

SCATS said...

To 7:30AM ~~ Thank you. When I get a chance I will look into it. We did have well over 14,000 students, perhaps in the late

To 8:26AM ~~ They removed the items the law requires to be taken out - some equipment & repairs (non-safety related). They also eliminated summer school bussing ... that's all I can recall. They put back in several items Steve took out.

george hubbard said...


1. BOE could learn by replaying the circumstances and events leading up to the budget defeat May 18, 2010. But, will they?

2. Facts show voters had reason to be shocked... to feel blind sided by a +7.6% jump in tax levy when compared to previous budgets... and other districts.

3. Look back 3 yrs (please check figures, post corrections):


2007-08__+1.65%__(contingent budget).



4. Tax levy data back to 2003-04 shows no basis for BOE to believe... that ongoing GCSD operations could be sustained... with increases of zero percent or less in successive years e.g. 2008-09, and 2009-10 (see above).

5. As benchmarks, analysis of 16 other suburban MC school districts shows none tried this path.

6. Yet, comments on voter survey sheets and local tv news... consistently said they voted “No” because of HIGH TAXES.

Q#1: So, were voters reacting to HIGH TAXES, or the sudden HIGH JUMP (7.6%) in taxes... this when increases in other districts were much lower... and recent increases in the Greece District have been running far lower?

7. Oversight is a responsibility of BOE before approving a budget to be presented to District voters. As the TQM oversight mantra says: Where have we been... where are we now... where are we going! The oversight alarm should have gone off one and two years ago.

8. The new BOE may want to consider having a multi-year goal to monitor increases to tax levy... to guard against isolated HIGH JUMPS and related budget defeats in the future.

SCATS said...

To Geo Hubbard ~~ I think they reacted to high taxes, a high jump in the number and the fact that the community is finally starting to "see" that transportation all over town is costing us a fortune, but our BOE refuses to curtail anything the special interest groups want. Thus, DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION defines us & makes it harder to find a decent Supt ... or police chief!

george hubbard said...

To: SCATS 6:49pm – LET’S RUMBLE.

Q#1: Can we agree to spar a bit over your thesis as to what caused voters to defeat the 2010-11 Budget?

1. You say, “I think they [voters] reacted to...” and you proceeded to enumerate three causes... A) High taxes, B) A high jump in taxes, and C) Transportation all over town is costing us a fortune.

2. You of course already have the advantage of probabilities in this contest... by hypothesizing three possible causes for the event... to my one. But, are the facts on your side?

Q#2: I ask, “What figures can you offer to substantiate your claims for A, or C?” “B” was mine, but you apparently had some thoughts here too, or were you just being kind to me.

3. You also assert (I’ll label it D): “D” = “...our BOE refuses to curtail anything the special interest groups want.”

Q#3: I ask, “What evidence can you offer regarding “D” that might convince blog viewers... or the general public... or BOE... that “D” is true?”

4. Just for the sake of argument, I’ll take the counter side on “D”. I’ll argue BOE has curtailed some things. And here’s a glimpse of my counter argument: On May 18th, voters were supposedly voting on a BUDGET... not a tax levy, but I don’t recall any “no voters” saying the BUDGET WAS TOO HIGH... and neither did you include this in your A, B, C enumeration. So, BOE must have curtailed at least a few things (costs), if no one criticized the amount of the budget.

5. The HAWK SQUAWK on taxes was all about a headline number... the +7.6% increase in levy – highest in the county... not the $97.8M amount of levy. Failure to exercise responsibility for oversight for zero increase tax levy one and two years ago... has left BOE defenseless.

The next move is yours SCATS!

PS to SCATS: The K-12 enrollment peaked in 1996-97 at 14,258... so says the GCSD SUMMER CENSUS 2002.

SCATS said...

To Geo Hubbard ~~ I'll agree to spar only if GPD agrees not to arrest me either :D

Re: "Q#2: I ask, “What figures can you offer to substantiate your claims for A, or C?” “B” was mine, but you apparently had some thoughts here too, or were you just being kind to me."

I can't give you specific figures but I can tell you logically that since about half of Greece was hit with reassessments that took their taxes up by 5-10% in many cases, the school district's proposed tax hike only added insult to injury. As for the cost of transportation, I'm hearing people talk about this issue now when they remained silent previously. Perhaps enough is enough?

Re: "Q#3: I ask, “What evidence can you offer regarding “D” that might convince blog viewers... or the general public... or BOE... that “D” is true?”

The BOE reversed the Supt.'s decision to discontinue kindergarten at West Ridge School. Music and arts and most sports programs suffered little in terms of reductions. The sport & music boosters are among the district's most outspoken parent groups.

I guess I just take it for granted that the budget is too large. You are right that the public focuses more on the tax rate increase than the budget number. I think that's just natural for most.

My next move ... hmmm ... wanna join me in some union busting? JUST KIDDING!

Charlie Hubbard said...

I have talked many times about the need for 'trust'
The school board has been lacking the 'trust' of the community for far too long.
A great oportunity to turn this around was lost recently by not 'trusting' the community to vote a second time on a revised budget. Simply put if you don't 'trust' me i'm sure not going to 'trust' you.
The school board over the years has given the community LOTS of reasons not to be 'trusted'. THIS school board could have help turn that around. Some may want to think 'they' are so smart that everything that needed to be fixed in the budget was done.
Believe me 'they' are not that smart. The damage 'they' have done to this district and community by being DISRESPECTFULL and SELFCENTERED will be with us when we needed it most.

We have CONTRACTS coming for approval soon. Based on past performance the community will again feel what it's like to be 'sold down the river'. 5 members of the board voted NO to a second vote for one reason, the cost (extra $25k) - you will soon see some 'real money' get pi##ed away.
Watch for the excuss making by the board. Ask yourself if you 'trust' any of these excusses.
More to come, LOTS more to come.

SCATS said...

To Charlie ~~ C'mon Charlie. There can't be any extra $$ in the budget for settling a contract. They just cut PROGRAMS & SERVICES that were "for the kids!"

george hubbard said...

To: SCATS, 12:15am.

1. Thanks for posting... I knew you couldn’t resist the temptation!

2. SCATS your reply (regarding voter comments) says, “I guess I just take it for granted that the budget is too large.”

3. No reason to guess, let’s look at data:


2007-08___$188.4M____($187.7M cont bdgt)


2009-10___$195.5M__+0.72% this year.

2010-11___$195.4M__-0.05% next year.

4. Data shows budgets were flat for two years... with average growth +1.4% per year over 3 years.

Q#1: So SCATS, do you agree... data shows BOE/(Supt/staff) did curtail some spending?

5. I understand BOE and GCSD Supt/staff to say... the unusual dichotomy of a -0.05% spending decrease... combined with a +7.6% speed bump in tax levy... is caused by a sudden drop in state aid revenue.

6. SCATS, you offer no figures for the “fortune” being spent on transportation. Try these. Operating costs (excludes benefits & bus purchases) grew to $10.66M in 2010-11... up +2.1%/yr in six years.

7. I understand approximately 20% of costs flow to local tax levy... 80% reimbursed with state aid.

8. Perhaps not a “fortune”, nonetheless voters are right to have BOE investigate possible efficiencies here.

Q#3: SCATS, I ask for an estimate, “How much could GCSD save on $10M transportation?”

9. SCATS, the next move is yours.

SCATS said...

Geo ~~ Yes, I know the budget was "flat" and now it's slightly less. Yes, they did "curtail" SOME (keyword) spending, but perhaps it wasn't from the areas it should have been from. Why would we eliminate HS electives but keep extra-curriculars and all of those stipends intact? Please tell me that it wasn't a decision made "for the kids!" The kids need to be IN CLASS since "student learning is the goal." Ah yes, the "goal!" Let's change that silly line. How about graduation with meaning is the goal?

Regarding bussing costs, GCSD could save probably around 10% based upon the fact that the transportation study shows a $500,000 cost saving by eliminating certain options. I think if we went to K-5 elementary schools and eliminated transportation for secondary option while imposing the walk distances we used to abide by, another $500,000 could be readily saved. Add to that the need to overhaul the transportation to babysitter/daycare policy, and perhaps we would save as much as 20%. I don't have the figures but the BOE seemed to be impressed by the huge expense we incur for this limo service. If they were impressed, it must be some very large numbers ;)

Anonymous said...

Scats; is it true that the household income of 3 board members will be effected by the teachers contract?

SCATS said...

To 9:10PM ~~ That sounds about right, as far as I'm aware. Of course, MY household expenses (taxes) will aso be impacted by it. How about yours??

george hubbard said...


1. Post 4:15pm states, “...the transportation study shows a $500,000 cost saving by eliminating certain options.”

2. I have problems finding the study report.

Q#1: What is the proper name of the study report?

Q#2: Is it available on Board Docs?


SCATS said...

To George ~~ The Elementary Transportation Study links are on my BLOG from April 30th:

There will be a quiz.