Friday, March 11, 2011

Editorial: Greece BOE Breaks Promise


Greece Board of Education Breaks a Long Standing Promise to the Greece Community

For decades the Greece Board of Education, including the current BOE, has promised the Greece Community that when cuts to the budget had to be made they would be made as far a way from direct instruction as possible.


The Greece superintendent's proposed budget, throws that promise out the window without a bit of public discussion. If the proposed budget is implemented direct instruction would be affected in the following:

Elementary:
  • Reduce 32.2 teachers in the area of General Education, Art, Math Intervention, Instrumental and Vocal Music, Speech.
  • Reduce 6 Librarians
  • TOTAL 38.2 Direct Instruction Teachers

Secondary:
  • Reduce 30.3 teachers in the Core Subject Areas, Special Subject Areas, LOTE, Literacy Coaches, Instrumental Music
  • Reduces the school day by a half hour
  • Makes social studies & science a teacher option course grades K-5
  • Increases class size at all levels
  • Caps WEMOCO at 166 students. This is illegal!

If Greece Central's test scores were high and something to be proud of maybe, just maybe the above cuts could be justified. In the Superintendent's Proposed Budget he reports:
  • Last year 41% of 4th grade students FAILED to be Proficient in ELA.
  • Last year 29% of 4th grade students FAILED to be Proficient in Math.
  • Last year 47% of 8th grade students FAILED to be Proficient in ELA.
  • Last year 39% of 8th grade students FAILED to be Proficient in Math.
  • Last year 20% or one out of five seniors failed to graduate.
  • Unexcused absences increased 352% since 2007. This is almost four times more students are skipping school.

The Superintendent could have recommended:
  • The closing & selling of 3 elementary schools.
  • The closing & selling of the old district office building on Latta Rd.
  • Increasing walking distance at all levels.
  • Eliminate the BOE, teacher, administrator conference funds.
  • Eliminate teacher staff development.
  • Move 6-8 Odyssey to Apollo.
  • Move 9-12 Odyssey to Olympia
  • Have Hoover Dr. return to the Hoover family.
  • Use more of the fund balance to make up the needed difference.

There is so much more that could be done other than cut DIRECT instruction and cutting the school day. This is another all time low for instruction in Greece Central.


Thank you SCATS for making the proposed budget available.

Sincerely,
Doug Skeet

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Doug,
You seem to dislike the cuts to teaching positions, yet advocate the closing of buildings.
Q: What happens when buildings are closed?
A: Teachers lose their jobs. Class sizes increase.

Either way, the only way to effectively reduce the budget is to reduce the cost of labor. Either by cutting positions or reducing individuals' salary and benefits.

Anonymous said...

Doug, I couldn't agree more with your points. I have lived in Greece all my life, 31 years. You were actually my principal for few years, probably at Lakeshore or Arcadia Middle. I graduated in 1998 from Arcadia, and currently teach in the district also.

These cuts will put education in Greece in a backwards motion. There is no way I will ever allow my daughter to attend elementary schools in Greece when programs are being cut every year. I want my daughter to experience art, music, and all the other things that kids deserve.

I am so disheartened by the budget, the lack of respect and communication by the entire BOE, and the non-action in many areas you listed that would have saved money, and kept programs in place for students.

Lastly, it is a slap in the face to have only 2 district office admin positions "eliminated." They are only due to retirements. It makes no sense to keep a bloated district office at Apollo, yet lay-off about 89 FTEs. I've been in DO, know people that work there, and much of what happens, could occur in schools by current admin, teachers, etc.

Unfortunately, even as I write this, I still think the BOE won't listen, and this budget will be voted down because the BOE didn't put in place the cuts the community is asking for, and even further cuts will have to be made.

kat said...

They need to step up and take the kids well being into account!!! What a bunch of...........

kat said...

Step up BOE people and make the kids a priority. If you can't then maybe you can step aside and let me do it!

SCATS said...

To 6:07PM ~~ Your statement about increased class sizes is entirely misleading. Overall class sizes will NOT increase beyond whatever level they were set at, unless the BOE/DO change them. Closing buildings WILL help scale back other labor costs in the form of fewer principals, VPs, athletic directors, janitors, cafeteria workers, etc.

Anonymous said...

Scats,
Fewer buildings = fewer classrooms
If we assume the number of students remains the same, then fewer classrooms must lead to larger class size.
That is not misleading at all. Simply a fact.
-6:07

SCATS said...

To 8:04PM ~~ I suspect you are assuming that ALL of those rooms are used for classes currently. I'm assuming they aren't ... that some might be labs, study rooms, etc.

Anonymous said...

Scats,
The original post referenced closing 3 elementary schools.
I don't expect there are many labs or study rooms in elementary schools.
Maybe building consolidation is possible, but it would absolutely involve having the same number of students in a fewer number of classes. Thus larger class sizes. And fewer teachers.
My point is that we can't lament the loss of teachers and increased class size and then advocate closing buildings and reducing classrooms.

SCATS said...

To 9:49PM ~~ Not science labs but computer labs & the like. My point is that not all of the extra rooms in the district's undersubscribed buildings were being used as classrooms currently. You need to keep in mind that each of these schools has a DESIGN CAPACITY that is much larger than the recent occupancy levels would suggest. Example: Pinebrook's deign capacity was for 625 students but it is only serving around 570 students this year. That tells me there is room in that building for an additional 55 students.

Anonymous said...

AS much as I hate to have anyone loose there job, if we closed schools yes teachers and some others would loose jobs. However the it would be spread across departments and not just be targeted to ART MUSIC LIBRARY SPECIAL ED AND LOTE programs. And the saving would exceed the saving of just the proposed "32 jobs" eliminated

Anonymous said...

Scats,

Of course there will be computer labs and music rooms and gyms and art rooms in closed buildings, but that still doesn't change the fact that fewer rooms equals larger classes.

Design capacity when the school was built years ago means nothing now.
Things have changed.
The number of Special Ed students is skyrocketing. The number of Students with IEP's who require smaller classes and individual attention continues to increase.

What I am saying is that a school system designed for 15000 in 2001 might not feasibly be able handle that many students in 2011 and beyond because of changing requirements.

To 8:25
If we close schools we can realize a one time savings and budget reduction. The problem in out district is the year over year increase in the cost of salary and benefits. This year, unchecked, would have accounted for a more than $5.6 million increase in the budget.
That will not change unless and until we are able to substantively change the way we compensate the employees of our district.

Anonymous said...

I think the Board should adopt all of your recommendations as well as those of the superintendent.

We will never get a reasonable teacher's contract unless they are pushed to the wall. And a year or two of fewer teachers may just prove that class size is not the key to good instruction.

Now just do it.

Anonymous said...

There is definitely empty rooms in some schools that could be used to consolidate buildings without impacting class sizes or teacher jobs. It would impact other employees (cafeteria staff, custodial workers, administrators, etc).

SCATS said...

To 8:25AM ~~ Thank you for helping me to make my point ... you did it more succinctly :)

To 10AM ~~ If we no longer have the capacity, then LET DO & THE BOE SHOW US THE STATS ON IT! After the fiasco of past bond issues and ignored audit suggestions, I am NOT willing to trust them without proof. At this point, there is NO PROOF we've outgrown additions made in 1993 to service 17,000 when we added even more space in 2001. FYI, the year-to-year budget increase was in excess of $7.2 million.

To 10:04AM ~~ Let them also include my suggestions on that list, things like limiting/eliminating courier services, shutting down the PO Box in N. Greece, getting rid of the Whistle Blower's & other Hotlines, etc.

To 10:36AM ~~ Are you suggesting that custodians & cafeteria workers are using space that was intended to be classroom space? Please elaborate with some specifics. I don't doubt you, but I am interested. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Scats- I was not saying that the custodaial and cafeteria staff use that space. I was saying that there is extra rooms. What I meant was if you consolidate buildings, they would need less custodians (less buildings to clean) and less cafeteria workers for the same reason. Those are not highly paid jobs so I am not sure that would save a ton of money but would put people who need jobs out of work.

SCATS said...

To 12:23 AM ~~ Of course eliminating some schools will also reduce the numbers of those earning less money too. The point is, this dirty work should have started long ago when attrition could have played a bigger role, instead of layoffs. There's no one to blame but those who have been running our district ;)

Anonymous said...

Closing schools is not a one time savings. There are annual cosst for the buildings that each year would not be paid. It is reducing spending, on bussing, staff, operating costs, admin interns, gas and electric water field maint. ect. The point that many refuse to acknowledge is that along with reducing staff we must cut non educational items as there will come a point that we can not get rid of most teachers because there will be no one left to teach and we will be still over spending. Our eceonom yno longer support the excess across the board we are a broke community and no one aka BOE wants to choose the needs "food and shelter" over the wants "New cars and cable". Sports and coaches and SOC and some arts programs (extra curric) feel good programs for a few are wants and are not "life sustaining" for this district.

Anonymous said...

6:07, 10:00a

SCATS' answers to building capacity and class size is "right on".

We have buildings designed for over 600 students that have just over 300 students. Even when you figure in increase sp. ed. needs, Greece has excess classroom space. Closing a building has nothing to do with individual class size as that class of students is just move to another buidling.

At one time we had just under 16,000 students. Now Greece has just over 12,000. Roughly there is approximately 3,500 less students with only Barnard closed to students.

Closing a building saves money EVERY year. It evenly reduces labor needs with few principals, nurses, art, PE, music teachers and few teacher aides BUT the same number of classroom teachers as they would be teaching the SAME number of students, just in another building. Busing, heating and maintenance cost are reduced and there is a potential for income and profit if the building could be rented out or sold.

It is a crime that student instructional time is being reduced. It is a crime that some art, music and support services is being reduced or eliminated. It is a crime that social studies and science is being eliminated at the K-5 level.

Parents of K-5 students where are you? Why aren't you marching, speaking at BOE meetings. picketing at each elementary school each mourning?

PARENTS: This is the year 2011!!!! Of all subjects SCIENCE. Again, NO social studies and SCIENCE at the K-5 level. This is the biggest step backwards in the history of Greece Central. Core subject areas, for thousands of students, will be gone starting in September 2011.

GREECE PARENTS.... IF YOU WILL NOT STAND UP FOR YOUR OWN CHILDREN, WHAT WILL MAKE YOU STAND UP?

Sincerely


Doug Skeet