Wednesday, March 09, 2011

BOE Meeting Highlights

   
The budget:
  • $195.5 million
  • an increase of $1.9 million
  • a 1.68% tax rate increase
  • - 89 FTEs
  • Referendum recommended in fall for capital projects and bus replacements
Some resulting changes:
  • Increased class sizes (to 25 primary; to 27 intermediate; 115/FTE @ grades 7 &8; HS changes planned, too)
  • Elementary instruction reduced by 30 minutes/day
  • Eliminates 4th grade music, reduces instrumental music & vocal music; marching band becomes part of Continuing Education
  • Barnard School closes; Bridges moves to Arcadia; Continuing Ed moves to mall
  • Some school buildings closed during Summer to save on utilities
  • Elementary art & library cut (I'm not sure if it is completely eliminated, but I think so)
  • Gymnastics cut; tennis consolidated; hockey reductions; end of season awards no longer supported by district for sports
  • SROs reduced & redistributed along with GCSD security
  • 6 credit hour requirement eliminated at HS for seniors
Stupid quotes:
  • "It is an utterly, colossally, stupid idea ... It IS chump change when you look at it against a $200 million budget." ~~ Frank Oberg, BOE Prez. who doesn't realize some people only make the $30-75K/yr in salary that he derided as "chump change" related to Cuomo's Supt's salary cap.
  • "John is going to be out of commission for a couple of weeks ... and that's with everything going very well. " ~~ Sean McCabe regarding the interim supt's upcoming cancer surgery
  • "I will once again ask the staff if there is ANY WAY to help us with this ... " ~~ Julia VanOrman,  attempting to illegally negotiate union business at a BOE meeting.
Other news:
  • Retirements announced include Dick Snyder, Don Nadolinski & Ann Mitchell
  • This budget includes "no significant changes to transportation programs." ~~ Lou Alaimo
  • Study Session on School Choice to be held March 15th despite 25 minute discussion
  • 7 BOE members discussed changing study session date to after Supt. selection is made ... an illegal meeting of the BOE to conduct business that should be discussed in public!

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a parent I am so frustrated with the cutting of art, library and music...when there are area that can be and should be cut before programs. All I can say is F you BOE you are a bunch of spineless self-serving bunch of blinded by special interest fools. Really cutting 30 min of instruction to elementary kids is sure gonna go along way to the goal of getting kids reading and doing math at grade level. As it is they are rushed through the lessons. This make me sick and mad...there is waste in this district that PROVIDES no EDUCATIONAL VALUE how about cutting the WANT before the NEEDS.
SIgned Fed up Mom in Greece

Anonymous said...

So we will keep 2 or 3 excess buildings open when huge savings could be achieved by closing them. And we will not alter the criminally expensive busing policies with gas going to $5 a gallon and diesel to $6 a gallon. And we will gut music and arts so we can keep a bowling team, a hockey team or two, and protect other peripheral activities which benefit a tiny student population.
I thought O'Rourke was going to do the right thing. Ha! Our BOE has gone beyond stupid and is now well into the ozone layer with the apparent willingness to spend money on buses and fuel rather than kids.
And Oberg is a huge part of the problem. He has proven to be over his head, out of touch, obstinate, lacking vision and creativity, and tone deaf regarding building community support. But he has lots of company.
The 800 pound gorillas in the room are too many buildings and absurdly expensive busing policies. If the BOE doesn't start with these items then we are truly doomed.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Specials were not completely cut just reduced to 30 minutes. Instruction time was not reduced they will start later but because they reduced specials from an hour to 30 minutes it's a wash - that was stated very clearly during the presentation and on the powerpoint slide. Not all bad news but could have gone further.

Anonymous said...

So football and basketball and schools of choice are not affected or touched. Apparently they were not on the table. They must be planning on those parents voting yes to override the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

If marching band can be part of continuing education why can't all the sports too. Let those that participate pay. Let continuing ed hire the coaches like they do the rest of their teachers. If we can't be in section V then so be it. They can still play the sport. The cost of officials and insurance will be covered by those that are selected to be on the teams.
After all how much does sports cost the district?
Let's see. There is no line item called "sports" since they do not want us to know how many millions it costs. Officials, medical people, coaches, uniforms, transportation, utilities and custodial and security staff, vice principal for sports, upkeep of facilities and fields, equipment.....Or are schools of choice and sports more important than class size and length of elementary school day? It would seem so.

Anonymous said...

This clearly shows there remains room for additional cuts.

I am sure we all agree, larger class sizes is less harmful to educational outcomes than eliminating one entire building (and its associate admin. costs) or having fewer buses come down my street where 5 elementary children are bussed to 4 schools.

Silly me!

SCATS said...

To 10:07AM ~~ What was clear to you was not so clear to those of us trying to take notes at breakneck speed. Anyway you look at it, reductions were made & I specifically heard him say 4th grade art was eliminated ... at least I don't think it was the voices in my head who said that. Reducing specials by 30 minutes is a reduction in "instruction time" isn't it? Are you trying to say that no learning, i.e. no instruction is given during art, music & library??

SCATS said...

The comment posted at 10:05AM was deleted because it was a duplicate of the comment posted at 10:07AM.

To 10:33AM ~~ I think that is an EXCELLENT suggestion! It resolves a lot of issues but allows the kids to play still. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I really like the idea of outsourcing more extra curical programs(including a few sports programs and many and other activities).

And to put my money where my mouth is, I think we should start first by establishing a scholarship fund to support those who could not otherwise participate.
I've got $1000 as a starter!

Programs would be added (or added back in) as that scholarship fund were endowed enough to support a given program for at least three years.

Anyone think this may have legs?

SCATS said...

To 11:17AM ~~ I really like that idea too and would also put some money where my mouth is to get it established. I think it's an idea whose time has come!

Anonymous said...

What about all of the waste at DO? Why are we paying for cell phones for District employees?
Why does Deb Hoeft have 4 special education coordinators under her? Is she not capable of doing the job? What about the $1 million she cost the District in Medicaid?
Is that going to be from her salary?

How come each department must buy "refreshments" for meetings from our school cafeterias that cost money? How come many that work on the 3rd floor have more than one secretary? Why are these wastes not looked into?

How come our legal costs keep going up? Can no one up there do their job without goofing up?

I would love a chance to organize and run this District! I could get the job done for $150,000!

Anonymous said...

To 12:05...I'll do it for $140,000 and no benefits!!

SCATS said...

To 12:05PM ~~ Our BOE is afraid to sneeze without lawyering up. They are afraid to let the community know how much behind the scenes wheeling & dealing is going on, discussions that ought to be carried on at a public meeting. Why are we wasting money on District Hotlines & Whistle Blowers oversee'ers when all we hear is that there are NO problems in Greece Central? Why do we pay for a PO Box in N Greece when each bldg can send & recieve their own mail? Why are we providing laptops to BOE members? Why are we wasting $$ on BoardDocs when most BOE members want the duplication of paper? Why aren't we closing bldgs instead of reducing specials in elementary? Why aren't we reigning in bussing & the ballooning gas costs by eliminating school choice now? I could ask a million different "why" type questions but the answer will remain the same. The reason is that the BOE & DO do NOT value instruction, smaller class sizes, etc. over these other things! If they did, those other things would be cut, reduced, eliminated. It really is THAT SIMPLE ... sad to say :(

To 2:08PM ~~ I'll do it for $130,000 and ask for only health care coverage as a benefit ;)

Anonymous said...

Scats, the results of the survey at the polls last year revieled a concern about the amount of bussing being done - correct?

If I am correct the board did what with those survey results?

SCATS said...

To 3:04PM ~~ Yes, that concern was revealed on the exit poll surveys. As I recall, when the BOE Prez's own wife mentioned the relevance of those surveys at a meeting held in the library at Olympia HS last Summer, he put her in her place by declaring that the numbers complaining were insignificant.

Anonymous said...

We all know our B of E has no spine but the blame also has to go to the teacher union. They are refusing to make any salary or benefits concessions so I guess they don't really care either if programs get cut and teachers get laid off.

So parents the next time a teacher complains about class size or program cuts ASK THEM if they are willing to pay more for their health care or take a pay cut like the rest of us in the real world.

And the bussing needs to be fixed too.

Anonymous said...

Not true 4:53. GTA agreed to benefit concessions in the agreement that the BOE voted down (without explanation).

Anonymous said...

Teachers are willing to make concessions and pay freezes...IT IS THE UNION HEADS THAT REFUSE!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am willing to take a pay cut as a teacher. close the unneeded schools, get rid of school of choice and the extra district office people, and I will agree to any reasonable offer that helps to educate our kids.

Anonymous said...

Without significant reductions in labor costs(salaries and benefits) the budget will continue to grow out of control.
The proposed budget is $195M. Salaries and benefits eat up $146M. For those scoring at home that is roughly 75% of the budget. And that's AFTER $4M in cuts.

There is no long term solution to our budget problems without addressing the outrageous growth in the cost of labor.

Having said that. I say end Schools of Choice today.
Redistrict to neighboorhood schools and close facilities, if possible.
Have kids walk reasonable distance to school. (we live less than 3/4 mile to my kids school and I would have them walk).

But why bother doing any of that when we will be in the same position next year, or the year after, without addressing labor.

Anonymous said...

To 8:39.
Why not show some leadership and have your union leaders make concessions first.

If it really is about the kids, and you agree that concessions are needed, why not make them?

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget our grossly overstaffed administration and district office staff are included in that "75% of the budget".

How many concessions have they offered?

How many positions have they reduced/eliminated?

They have no credability.

Anonymous said...

The union agreed to reduction in health benefits, and tuition costs. The board rejected it, without giving any reason.

Anonymous said...

9:09 what you don't understand is many teachers ( veteran as well) have openly said the will take pay freezes pay substantially more for benefits those that represent us will not budge. We may belong to the union but it is the UNION bosses that make the call. They do not speak for everyone.

Anonymous said...

We are leaving our district in the hands of Pallas and Hoeft? I thought things were bad now! They are about to get much, much worse!

Anonymous said...

When this District begins to examine the cuts and waste that you are looking at with your "why" questions, then I will think about a few consessions.

Why is it that everyone always blames the teachers?

Anonymous said...

Scats posted: "Retirements announced include Dick Snyder, Don Nadolinski & Ann Mitchell"

Does this mean these three people are RETIRING? Or does it mean that these three are going to "read" the names of those who ARE retiring??

SCATS said...

To 8:11PM ~~ It means those 3 are retiring this year. What I wonder is if they are included in the "reductions" of staff?

Anonymous said...

Great! 2 different students came in today saying "My parents said Greece schools are having problems, and we aren't going to have art/music/library, so we are going to go to private school or else move." The most solid and affluent of our families will scramble to leave the district, leaving behind an even poorer, needier student population.

Also, the only 2 cuts from administration were Nadolinski and Mitchell. So the remaining 72+ administrators, each making significantly more than the average Greece teacher will remain- far removed from student contact.

Student learning is the goal?