Wednesday, June 09, 2010

"Secret Cuts" The BOE Made To Prevent Protest

  
During the process of developing the 2010-11 budget, the Greece BOE heard outrage from West Ridge parents once word of the proposed elimination of their kindergarten classes got around.

Following that ruckus, BOE member Gale O'Toole suggested during a board meeting that  BOE members communicate proposed cuts quietly to one another. BOE President Patrick Tydings "reminded" her that wasn't appropriate. However, it became obvious to me as the budget process continued that some cuts related to sports programs and specific HS electives weren't being mentioned by name within the board room and I assumed it was to prevent more outrage. It appears I was correct once again.

Today, The D&C reports that a sign carrying parent sat in silent protest at last night's BOE meeting. Parent Mary Alice Vara wielded a sign that read: "Don't Cut Freshman Football" and "vote for kids." Her son, an 8th grade pupil, learned during football camp Tuesday that there was no team for him to play on next year.

"No one knows about the teams being cut. They did a poor job communicating this."

In total, five high school baseball/softball teams and three freshman football teams have been eliminated, along with numerous HS electives.

SCATS ~~ Closed, clubby & corrupt strikes again in Greece, much to the chagrin of Ms. Vara. I know our BOE pride themselves with their "openess" but they aren't as open as they need to be. It's obvious these cuts were NOT communicated and I'm convinced that omission was intentional. I'll bet Ms. Vara thinks so, too.
  

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

I also do not remember the cutting of freshman football being mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Once again, I suggest that HS electives could be saved, at low cost, if we use 21st century technology and use our in-house TV studio to teach the course at one school and televise it to the others where students want to take the course. There must be a teacher aide somewhere in the viewing schools who could sit in the room and monitor the classroom while the televised course is being taught. If we can communicate between the earth and the moon, we can certainly conduct two-way communication between the various classrooms.

Anonymous said...

So they don't have the guts to go public with proposed cuts. Well, if that is the way it is, then I say go ahead with the cuts. In this case the ends do justify the means.

If they want further suggestions for cuts, either in public or private, just send a signal.

They do get partial credit for making some cuts.

SCATS said...

To 10:22AM ~~ I don't believe that keeping such things "secret" is legal. I also think it impacts their position that they are such an "open" board. Poppycock.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't kept secret, just not put on the front page of the news. i live next to one of the coaches and he new about it the day after the board meeting. he said it was discussed openly at the meeting which levels were being cut and why.

SCATS said...

To 3:02PM ~~ I tend to listen to BOE meetings and word of cuts to sports, music and other extra-curriculars tends to get my attention. yes, there was discussion of some cuts to sports. Which specific programs were getting axed were not mentioned at the time they were put on the chopping block. In fact, I recall one night when a BOE member asked a question about them but instead of actually uttering the words to designate what the exact topic was, they referenced it by a page number and location on the page. There was specifically stated fear of more crying parents storming the board room, but no expression of which specific program/s might bring them in. The fact that a coach would have the details the next day doesn't surprise me at all. I believe Steve uses something called email and/or voice mail to accomplish that when they want something known. God forbid the reporters ever ask what the details are about anything the press is fed.

SCATS said...

Oh and one more thing 3:02PM. I think the community should have had the list of EVERYTHING axed from the budget BEFORE they were sent to the polls. It's pretty obvious they did NOT have this (and other) information.

Anonymous said...

I believe it was available in the public library.

Charlie Hubbard said...

When you have people who don't care how people 'vote' what makes you think they would care about being upfront about what cuts are being proposed.

Come on folks, come to grips with the kind of people you are dealing with here.

SCATS said...

To 5:48PM ~~ Do you still believe in the tooth fairy, too? What they provide to the library is only the minimal part required under the law. I don't believe it details anything this specific other than the salaries for the highest paid administrators in the district.

Anonymous said...

who cares. barely anyone voted anyways.

SCATS said...

To 7:14PM ~~ I care and more people voted this year than last year, so I'm thinking I've got some company ;)

Anonymous said...

You posted this on Saturday:

...The reduction of baseball/softball and football teams at the secondary level.

SCATS said...

To 7:55PM ~~ Saturday was June
5th. The vote on the budget that eliminated the program was held on May 18th, a few weeks prior. To wait until AFTER the vote to tell us what we voted on is the problem. Apparently the coaches are just getting around to communicating something that should have been spelled out in detail in the district's budget propoganda piece called "The Connection." It wasn't.

Anonymous said...

The baseball/football cuts were part of the contingency budget, not the budget that failed.
Other, as-yet-unknown sports were cut with the regular budget.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the coaches (who are almost all teachers) would volunteer their time free rather than accept a salary for coaching. After all, they all do it for the kids!

Anonymous said...

The sports cuts were't in the original budget that was voted on May 18th. These ADDITIONAL cuts were mentioned and added at the board meeting held after the vote when they decided to not just go to contigency budget. They wanted the tax rate reduced more so cuts were suggested. Then it wasadopted lst night. I listened to that meeting and was aware of them. They have to start cutting some where. Hopefully next year they will continue to have the guts to keep cutting and start the elimination of West Ridge.

SCATS said...

To 10:12PM ~~ I agree that there were cuts to sports programs made with the original budget plan. I thought these were in fact those cuts. If those cuts haven't been made known yet, how will we know they are them when they are revealed? Talk about confusing!

SCATS said...

To 10:45PM ~~ You can't be talking about Greece Central!

SCATS said...

To 11:53PM ~~ There were some sports cuts made in the original budget package ... unless it was added back in at the last minute and not mentioned which might be possible. Anyway you look at it, just from the discussion here we can see there was no clarity communicated about the cuts being made. That is my point: voters should know what they are and are not voting on before heading to the polls. This sort of snow job is uncalled for.

Charlie Hubbard said...

You need to understand that what this board says on Tuesday means nothing on Friday.
This is what happens when 'politics' rules the day.
If we don't have any guildlines, just make something up.

The bottom line in this case is the board and administration here were he## bent on NOT going out to the voters again and risk expossing their incompetence. Deep down these people believe the voters are stupid - WE - are the smart ones.
If 'trust' is important (and I think it is) this board blew it big time. They now are in damage control mode where they will tell you anything. Just remember what they tell you today will mean nothing tommorrow.

Anonymous said...

The board can make additional cuts as they go along thru the year. The budget puts uppoer limits on spending but there is not a limit on cutting. What a concept.

SCATS said...

To 9:08AM ~~ What the board can do and what they will do are usually lightyears apart! The Greece BOE isn't known for doing MORE than the absolute minimum necessary whether it's in relation to abiding by laws, policies, regulations and the like or whether it's providing services, classes and opportunities to the students ... unless it involves special interest groups ... and then everything/anything becomes possible.

Anonymous said...

Barnard is not available?

SCATS said...

To 9:43AM ~~ I can't recall if Nadolinski said it wasn't available or wasn't suitable for their needs. I believe it was more of the latter.

Anonymous said...

Mod A or B baseball is also on the chopping block which means Freshmen again as Mod A. Why not cut Mod B since the kids have other organized programs where once you get to HS there are minimal if any organizations for Freshmen kids. Mod B cuts would help local organizations such as Greece Little league, Ogden and Chargers Pop Warner football teams and Cardinals as well as Hilton Raiders football. Of course the cuts don't seem to be where coaches kids will be soon.

Anonymous said...

Why can't either the BOE or the schools communicate what the cuts to which sports will be? Take a look at the exit poll comments - these sports cuts are the ones that the voters wanted the least. Everyone in the district should vote and shame on anyone who did not. The BOE should be working for the kids and not against them. Even though I am not an Obama supporter but isn't the first lady going after childhood obesity? While some kids have the ability to play and skills to play at the JV level what about their maturity especially at a time when they have huge changes going on - figuring out high school, getting into new social groups and why cut Freshmen sports? Come on. Someone needs to step up for the kids!!!

SCATS said...

To 10:56AM ~~ Re: "Why can't either the BOE or the schools communicate what the cuts to which sports will be?"

A: Because they didn't want to have angry parents mobbing them in the boardroom the way the West Ridge parents did. Of course, since they voluntarily spent an ENTIRE EVENING at West Ridge School kow-towing to that faction, they MUST do so to other special interest groups or they will appear to be playing favorites, which they are!

Re: "Take a look at the exit poll comments - these sports cuts are the ones that the voters wanted the least."

A: Not quite right. The exit polls showed that of those who voted "no" and who completed the survey, 4.8% said leaders could earn their support if they made further cuts to sports/extra-curriculars. Not only was sports lumped together with ALL other extracurriculars, but another 4.8% said leaders should cut more from the overall budget proposal which tied with the number who said sports/extracurriculars. Of course, the overall budget INCLUDES sports.

Re: "Everyone in the district should vote and shame on anyone who did not."

A: Given that the BOE thumbed their noses at the outcome of the budget vote by adopting a contingent budget with a 4% tax hike and opting NOT to revote it, you'd be hardpressed to make that argument in this town! Democracy does NOT reign in GCSD.

Re: "The BOE should be working for the kids and not against them."

A: WRONG! The BOE should be working for the folks who pay the bills ~~ THE TAXPAYERS! The children do not and should not be running this district, period.

Re: "Even though I am not an Obama supporter but isn't the first lady going after childhood obesity?"

A: Yes, but the impact will be much greater if we start by fixing what's wrong with cafeteria menus that feature popcorn chicken, nachos, pizza, hotdogs, hamburgers, mozzarella sticks, tater tots, giant pretzels and other crapple for the main entree!

Anonymous said...

For a district that supposedly has no money. They sure are spending alot of it to rent space out at Kodak property on Ridge Rd. for the administration to move to while Apollo has renovations done this summer.They could use Barnard for free, but then they would have to use the stairs and would have no central air. Could'nt that money be used for I don't know THE KIDS?

Anonymous said...

My daughter has said that there is no Freshman Cheer team, and Honor Society has been cut...what else anyone know?

SCATS said...

To 5:30PM ~~ No National Honor Society? At which school? What will the PTA do to keep busy? Hmmm ...

george hubbard said...

To: Post 9:08AM and others.

1. BOE is not limited only to making budget cuts going forward. They can revise... or even increase budget appropriations in certain instances.

2. SCHOOL BOARD LAW, 30TH EDITION states (pg 736):

2a. “May a school board amend and/or revise the final contingency budget after its adoption by majority vote of the board?”

2b. “Yes. In fact, even an incoming board, as newly constituted at the annual organizational meeting, may make adjustments to the contingency budget adopted by the predecessor board, provided that the district continues ““to maintain the educational program as required by statute and regulation”.”

2c. “However, the Education Law precludes amendments or revisions to final contingency budget that would exceed the spending limitations of the contingency budget caps.”

3. Sports teams and other extra curricular activities etc have precedence in GCSD educational programs as ordinary contingent expense.

4. Newly elected BOE members could have a voice here.
.

Anonymous said...

To 3:17 pm - sure looks like some staff are using Barnard lately - check out how full the parking lot has been recently.

Anonymous said...

Don't give up on the new board yet. Give them a chance to succeed or fail by their actions!

Anonymous said...

Scats; do we know the cost of the freshman football program? Do the parents know? Have they asked a board member?

Anonymous said...

People in the district who are upset with the elimination of services in the district should email the entire board, superintendent, athletic directors and school principals. Fill those mailboxes. Maybe they will rethink the sports cuts, high school elective cuts and anything else.

The schools are for the kids and programs need to remain. Cut the teachers pay and let them pay more for benefits and towards their retirements. Run the district more like a business - teachers only contribute 10% towards benefits - and tax payers pay 90% - is anyone aware of that? Or the bonus the teachers receive if they retire on time which I believe in the 10's of thousands? Tell me that amount alone doesn't add to a small fortune.

Anonymous said...

They have moved the tech dept. there. But of course the golden ones are getting posh digs at Kodak on the taxpayer dime.

SCATS said...

To 7:29AM ~~ I don't know it specifically. For some reason, I'm thinking there was some mention of $500,000 made in sports cuts overall, but I'm not sure if that's accurate recall on my part. Sorry.

To 11:33AM ~~ The BOE can't cut teacher salaries or benefits without getting the district into hotwater for breaking a contract. It's time to streamline the programs and services to students anyways. I'm not saying I would have chosen the same exact items, but as I've stated previously, Greece Central can't be all things to all people. I'd like to see them eliminate stipend positions and fill them with volunteers. Then we'll know first hand whether the teachers are "for the kids" or not.

To 12:02PM ~~ I think that's almost amusing that the tech people are in a building lacking A/C for the Summer when computer equipment can be vulnerable to heat & humidity. A typical bass-ackwards decision again.

SCATS said...

To 6:58AM ~~ Three people don't constitute a "new board" since it requires 5 votes to accomplish anything. I'll believe change is forthcoming when I see it.

Anonymous said...

To those concerned about the cutting of sports and other activities.
Do something productive. Make a comparison of the cost per participant to that of the cost of the hockey program which has not been cut.

SCATS said...

To 2:38PM ~~ You may be on the right track with that. However, please know that it's my understanding that hockey & football are the highest cost sports offered.

george hubbard said...

To: SCATS,

Regarding your Post 1:13PM

1. In many ways, GCSD has improved over the years... and one way is in making budgetary information available to the public.

2. Try these:

2a. THE CONNECTION BUDGET EDITION states pg 2: Left heading “WHAT WAS CUT” - line 6 below “Some funding for interscholastic and modified athletics”. Right heading "ESTIMATED BUDGET REDUCTION” – line 6 below “$155,000”.

2a1. This pre-dated the May 18th vote on Proposed Budget.


2b. On GCSD website, go to Quick Links: Budget Information... about halfway down page find PDF file, “2010-11 Contingent Budget Book”.

2b1. Pgs 5-8 read, “GREECE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET IMPACT SUMMARY”. Purpose: To present a summary of budget reductions by function.

2b2. "These reductions were made subsequent to the budget vote held on May 18, 2010."

2b3. Line 3 reads, “Interscholastic Athletics (40,000)... Reduces 5 teams...”

3. Question: Did BOE members know what was in or out of the Contingent Budget... what they were voting for or against... and can they explain why?

4. Does this help?

5. This thread has grown very long... much interest... any chance for a new one?
.

SCATS said...

To George ~~ Does it help? I don't know how I could answer "yes" when it is a fact that the Connection was riddled with "mistakes" and that we have several BOE members who refused to spell out WHAT specific items they were discussing cutting for fear of people storming the BOE meeting room. The fact that they attempt to withhold info like this from us to save themselves grief goes against my instincts on trusting them.

What would you like a new thread to be titled? Perhaps I can arrange that later this evening or tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

So the "tech dept" is at barnard even though it is uncomfortable and could harm the equipment. Why do they have to be on district owned property and the others can rent space? Maybe the tech dept has too much going on that they do not want to be observed by Kodak. Maybe this will allow them to put in more security surveillance installations at district office before the rest of the staff returns in the fall. You didn't think the cameras were just to keep tabs on the kids. Can't wait for the "this phone call may be recorded for quality purposes" warning.

Anonymous said...

To 4:54 - What equipment do you think the tech dept took to Barnard with them? As far as the cameras - do the black helicopters follow you everywhere you go?