Thursday, February 03, 2011

Deja Vu ... Then & Now

  
THEN ...  
One year ago, former Supt. Steve Achramovitch was told to craft a budget proposal bringing the anticipated deficits under control. He told the press that "everything was on the table" for consideration, for possible reductions and/or elimination. That lasted only a few days until the parents of West Ridge caught wind of his idea to eliminate kindergarten at their school. That's when Holy Hell broke loose in the Greece Central School District. Our Board of Education took their positions at a meeting at West Ridge School a few nights later and listened to children wail into the mic about losing their school, their teachers, yada, yada, yada.

NOW ...
We have another lame duck, interim Supt. O'Rourke, at the helm and an even bigger budget mess is brewing. With a new Governor sounding as if he's willing to go against the unions, our BOE is up a raging creek without a paddle once again. Tonight, the Supt. told 13WHAM news: “I have to say that everything is on the table. It’s been made very clear to me that I have a free hand to look at everything…There are no sacred cows, nothing is off limits.”

SCATS ~~ Is it just me, or do these  words sound really hollow? How can we believe they are true after the West Ridge kindergarten debacle from last year?
 

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Silly you: everything on the table yes, but nothing ever gets taken off the table.

SCATS said...

To 9:45PM ~~ Actually, things do get taken off. Usually, they are the WRONG things ;)

Anonymous said...

The BOE will let everything be discussed and proposed, but when the parents and children come out and plead for their local interest, the BOE does''t have the backbone to make the tough decision that is in the best interest of ALL the students and ALL the community. They would rather add everything in, the have the voters reject the budget and the BOE will salvage the school year through a contingency budget. They can be the good guys and make the voters the bad guys. No wonder we have a dysfunctional school system.

Anonymous said...

If any one of these, so called, "professionals" could put together an intelligent plan to restructure the district in a way that saves the taxpayer money and increases the chances for true classroom success then the community would rally around them.

It's not about simply closing 2 schools, or ending the crazy amount of bussing, or ending schools of choice, or reducing the number of sports teams, or AP classes.

It's about a complete plan to remake our district.

If they would simply start over and create a district from the ground up and use the economy as their guide. The problem is that the starting point is a district design that is unconventional and unwieldy to the point that it can not be efficient.

Start fresh. Use new ideas. Come up with a realistic structure. DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

Anonymous said...

That's right. Even if we do not get state aid, the board can keep the budgeted amount as high and extravagant as they like. There is nothing in the law that says we can't have a champagne and cadillac budget. They will just tax us accordingly. They will take the chance that the vote will go their way. So it doesn't matter what the governor does. With or without state aid we can still pay for the budget with our taxes. And that means the people that are under 65 can pay the full taxes.
If the budget is a no vote they will just go to contingency budget which can be just as high as the presented budget. Yes there are certain limits in a budget if it is defeated twice and they know that and will go right to contingency.
They have their plan already written and will just work on how to present it to the public so we will not awaken. They will have their special interest groups that have been threatened with closing their schools of choice working for them. (Remember when it used to be sports and busses? See they have to have these schools of choice parents to do their dirty work and feel like they are getting something special. There is nothing left for them to use for extortion but these choice schools)

SCATS said...

To 3:43PM ~~ Whatever happened to the Strategic Framework developed in the late 90's? What about the work done under Achramovitch towards goal-setting? The problem is, Greece BOE members REFUSE to be told what to do by either administration or the community. We had a supt. candidate who told us all about the benefits of having a Strategic Framework in place. They snubbed her at the dinner they held for her!

Guess who is really running Greece Central?

To 4:10PM ~~ Very sad, very true! I wonder what the BOE would do if 100 really PO'd residents showed up at a meeting ... hmmm ...

Anonymous said...

To 3:43 pm

I am just curious. What would your new school district look like, with your words, a "realistic structure"?

Sincerely,

Doug Skeet

Anonymous said...

"It's not about simply closing 2 schools, or ending the crazy amount of bussing, or ending schools of choice, or reducing the number of sports teams, or AP classes"

True, it may not be as simple as making these changes. However, there are several potential changes you mentioned that would reduce spending greatly, yet have no negative effect to education. In fact, in the case of school of choice/lottery schools, I could make the case that they are hurting our district beyond the financial aspect. Those are the common sense changes. 'Building a district from the ground up' sounds lovely, but first things first. Implement the common sense money savers TODAY, build from the ground up tomorrow. We are about to hear in the coming weeks that staff will be cut, which negatively effects the student/staff ratio, but my neighborhood sends 5 kids the same age to 5 different public schools on my dime!?!? Are you kidding me!

Anonymous said...

To 5:44 and 5:46

Here is what I think a realistic structure looks like;
3 geographically fed high schools (9-12)
3 geographically fed middle schools (6-8)
The required number of geographically fed elementary schools (pre-k - 5)

Children within a reasonable distance walk to school.
Group bus stops, within reasonable walking distances.
Certain elem schools feed certain middle school which feeds certain high school.

Where you live determines where you go to school.
No schools of choice. No secondary option.

SCATS said...

To 6:33PM ~~ I'd add to your posting that we simply MUST make these schools truly equitable. It's time to ensure all schools offer the SAME curriculum, operate under the SAME policies and provide the same opportunities to ALL students.

Hamburg -HCSD- WNY said...

So did Steven A. have any good ideas or did we really get screwed bu getting him as the new Super...

Anonymous said...

Should there also be an alternative setting for those who do not want to follow the rules?

Do we also include some of the ideas offered by the unions? Sorry based on what we have heard there aren't any.

Anonymous said...

Hey BOE!

Look at 6:33!

It probably took all of 10 minutes to brainstorm and type what essentially is a mission statement. It is basically reflective of what so many others here have been saying right along. 6:33 didn't use a committee, or a summitt, or any other BS term to come up with common sense. 10 minutes of work, and 6:33 literally has shown you MILLIONS of dollars in savings anually.

Anonymous said...

A return to the 1980-1990 model, eh?. A Greece education was seen as the best in the region back then. Maybe John or Ray is still available to come back to guide it all. Pull Pat our of retirement to redistrict things.

Dirk da Data Digger said...

http://tinyurl.com/2011superpay

http://tinyurl.com/cuomoschools

Source:
Scott Thomas
Business First

SCATS said...

To 2:15AM ~~ His best idea put into action was to announce his phony "retirement" after the school board decided to not give him a raise or to renew his contract. His best ideas dismissed by the BOE were to fire drinking hockey coaches who were supposed to be chaperoning the team on an overnight trip and to eliminate kindergarten in order to phase out/close one school with declining enrollment. Both times, nasty and vocal special interest groups pressured our spineless BOE to overturn his decisions. They effectively neutered good ole Steve before you got him. Sorry for the bad news.

SCATS said...

To 5:53AM ~~ Union ideas!? Ha! If it doesn't involve upping wages & benefits, you won't hear anything from GTA. An alternative setting better be in the largest capacity building we have, because it seems this sector gets larger each year.

To 7:30 & 7:33AM ~~ Yes, it only LOOKS/SOUNDS like rocket science to the current BOE ;) Creativity isn't their thing.

To 7:36AM ~~ Thank you, great links!

Anonymous said...

To 5:53am

I say keep Odyssey open as an "alternative" school for chronic problems. Make it K-12 and staff it with current school of choice teachers. Take the best teachers and have them work with the most difficult students.

Remove all sports and extracurricular activities from odyssey and have this "alternative" school focus solely on education and discipline.

SCATS said...

To 9:55AM~~ As a parent myself, I can't envision putting elementary kids into an alertnative setting with HS students. It's a potential disaster waiting to happen, especially on the buses, at bus stops, in the cafeteria, lavatories, etc. I think we need to find an effective means for handling issues with K-5 students at their own schools. Other than that, I'd support your idea!

Anonymous said...

So let's take the worst 18 year old kids, and have them share a school with 5 year olds?

9:55, It's ok to think "ideas" through before clicking (publish your comment). By the way, who said school of choice teachers were the best teachers? Again, it's easy to get the best results when your student body is hand picked...um...I mean drawn at random.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Scats. We do need a school for chronic problem students, but if they are to succeed, they need a classroom that is appropriate for their needs and age group. Perhaps one of the underpopulated schools, instead of being closed, could serve for a K-6, another for Middle and one for HS.

I believe if we move problems out of the classroom and allow teachers to focus on teaching, we might see some improvement quickly. Don't know if that is the whole answer, but certainly a start.

As for equitable, at least in the middle and HS core program, we could make use of the TV studio we bought and have the better lecturers teach the subject matter and have the other teachers in the classroom for questions and lab, practical work. Let's get into the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

The problem with this thinking (and it permeates this blog) is the idea that public schooling is an obligation put upon taxpayers by the state and only the bare minimum is desirable. "...and nothing more" seems to be the manta. What about wanting to appeal to people with children so they might actually want to live here? It's young families that grow the economy. I think the disconnect is that education professionals want to do more and make schools special places. They better or they should find another line of work. If you can't afford to be amazing at everything, try finding a thing or two where you can stand out (i.e Odyssey). Let's try to be really really good at a thing or two and not mediocre in everything.

SCATS said...

To 3:33PM ~~ The problem that permeates the Greece Central School District is that they do EVERYTHING MEANINGFUL to a minimum standard. Look at how they abide by Open Meeting Laws and FOIL requests. Look at how they crafted a defeated budget into an austerity budget, then added back in what they wanted without risking another vote! They didn't add back classes, or teachers, but SRO's, and other non-educational crapple! Look at what they cut from a tight budget - electives at HS and bussing for pre-k! If I were in charge, I might axe pre-k totally (since it's NOT mandated) and keep the HS electives knowing I made GCSD a better district for those who aspire to graduate! It's not the community or this BLOG that sets their standards, they do by the choices they make each year at budget time.

Anonymous said...

3:33, Until your able to offer that rosy picture to ALL Greece students, you shouldn't offer it to ANY (ie. Odyssey). This is especially true when your asking that ALL Greece residents (except for our poor seniors of course) flip the bill for the few that are getting your "special places" experience. You want to know what brings people to communities? Results! Not results in one or two schools that you may or may not be able to get your kids into, but results for the WHOLE district. Those were the results that had city families moving to Greece 2 decades ago, and those (sadly) are now the results that have families trying to get their kids out of Greece and into Spencerport. It may make you feel good to have a ridiculously expensive toy named "lottery schools", but the results for the whole district suck!

SCATS said...

Well said, 4:19PM, well said!

Anonymous said...

whats up with the current lawsuits that are pending?

Anonymous said...

I would think that parents considering a move would look for a district that first of all, provides an education that prepares their children for responsible, independent life after school, be that college or entry into the work force. Nice to have would also be the extra curricular activities that round out their children and provide the sense of belonging that everyone needs.
There was a list of about 40 assets that were identified several years ago by a national study. Children having more of these "assets" were more likely to succeed, less likely to get into drugs and other troubles. I don't remember the full list but belonging to a sports team or musical group was one of the assets. So was belonging to, and practicing, a faith was another. I suspect the list exists somewhere. I do NOT recall seeing lighted sports fields, artificial turf, unlimited bussing or schools of choice as assets on the list. I might be wrong, just saying.

Anonymous said...

Anon - nothing happening with the pending litigation. Seems if they ignore these situations, they'll disappear. Don't be surprised if the next Supt. is named Samantha.

Anonymous said...

Doug Skeet - are you the same person who attended Buffalo State in the early 60's?

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, attending a school with the smallest ratio of black kids in the district was #5 on the list. I guess that alone justifies keeping Pine Brook open for the white kids.

Anonymous said...

5:25 What list?

SCATS said...

To 10:23AM ~~ I think they meant the list of 40 assets.

Hamburg (S.A. Question) said...

Thanks SCATS