Tuesday, March 29, 2011

To The Greece Board of Education ...


Do The RIGHT Thing!

Cut Bussing & Close Buildings!
   
Don't Cut School Day Or Academics
        

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

YES!!! Cutting the school day and academics will affect kids LONG TERM... sitting their butts in a different building will be upsetting but not devastating.
jk

Anonymous said...

Ok I will bite. What schools does SCATS want to see closed? Also what will this do to the class size in the other schools?

SCATS said...

To 2:22PM ~~ Agreed!

To 2:29PM ~~ It's not a matter of what SCATS "wants to see closed." It's a matter of good, common sense planning. Which schools to close are the school board's decision to make. There are at least 2 schools now with under 300 students each. It would disrupt the least number of families by potentially closing them. But that is up for the people we pay (administration) and elect (the BOE) to determine. It CAN be done ;)

Anonymous said...

Listening to the BOE tonight makes me sick to my stomach. The lack of leadership is appalling. This budget process is so flawed at the BOE level that the will of the public for the best education possible for kids has no chance of being implemented.
The administration proposed budget satisfies no one. But Oberg insists that the administration got it right. But the BOE did little tonight to address the disconnect between the administrations "self-serving budget and what would be a budget that delivers education first and not equipment, bus runs and non-educational activities.
I don't trust the administrators, many of the board and certainly not Oberg. There is NO reason to trust them. They haven't earned our trust. Aren't there 3 or 4 board members that can right this ship before it sinks?

Anonymous said...

It does seem strange that a district who says that student learning is the goal, they would spend money bussing students around to any school they want to attend, and cut teaching staff and shorten the day in order to maintain the bussing program. I haven;t been able to grasp the logic in that decision.

Anonymous said...

I find it comical that the BOE was patting the admin on the back for saving 4th grade music and art and saving the 30 minutes of the school day, as though the admin did that out if the goodness of their heart in response to community input. When, in fact it was the real fear of litigation which reversed their course.

SCATS said...

To 10:05PM ~~ Fear of litigation by whom and for what?

Anonymous said...

Question: Is it true that NYS reimburses school districts for 90% of transportation costs? If so, how does this affect our transportation budget?

SCATS said...

To 11:42PM ~~ I missed most of the meeting tonight, so if this was discussed, I'm in the dark. It is possible that Greece gets some portion reimbursed. The problem with BOCES or State Aid reimbursements is that the money given back goes into the general fund & essentially disappears. Taxpayers never get to see the refund used to fund something else going forward.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't discussed tonight. I was given this information by a source who was on the advisory committee. I was unaware of this reimbursement. They commented to me that the transportation is not the true issue due to these reimbursements but that the salaries and benefits are the true bulk of the budget and unfortunately our hands are tied there.

Anonymous said...

I just left you a message on Facebook. The Arts (Art, Music, Library and PE) teachers have set up a group on Facebook asking the GTA to meet at 9:30 this Saturday. They plan on walking the neighborhoods and handing out fliers to let people know what is happening and to advocate for keeping the Arts in our schools.

SCATS said...

To 12:06AM ~~ We get reimbursed for LOTS of things, but the taxpayers never see that money again & the kids don't ever seem to benefit. For example, a number of years ago, there was a propostion for $1,000,000 for technology purchases that was supposed to be aidable to 70%. Instead of the BOE setting up a fund so that the reimbursement would get reinvested in tech in the future, it was lumped into the general fund & never heard about again. This happens EVERY YEAR with a variety of things, including capital repairs.

SCATS said...

To 12:08AM ~~ Thanks for the heads up. I caught the very end of the meeting & it was my impression that the art & music & 30 minutes were added back into the budget, but not the library program. I'm not sure how or where they found the funds. Even so, why would the GTA go house-to-house about this? Do they expect us to vote yes on a budget that stinks? Or are they advocating a no vote?? Interesting ...

Anonymous said...

Isn't it spelled Busing - not Bussing?

Anonymous said...

Arts and music were added back in and yes it was fear of litigation!!! Library was added half back in... Additional state aid and cuts to high school electives made up most of the difference. apparently in 2003 a superintendent in greece under oath said that teacher planning time is part of the kids school day... I laughed out load... The administrators also agreed to sit down and talk about freezes but no other group did...
wish more people were there...jk

Anonymous said...

Also from last night... 3650 kids involved in sports... 1.8 million budget (40% salaries for coaches) that is about $500 per kid. I don't think it is unreasonable to have families pay a part of that...but it may be against section 5 rules. The mergers in tennis and wrestling can not happen- against section 5 rules. Sports have a damn good lobby in this state...

Anonymous said...

Nadolinski said the something about a statement made in 2003 by then superintendent waltz, which would almost certainly give rise to the union to file a grievance and force the district to defend, so they added back in music and art and restored the 30 minutes of elementary school day. Library is still cut to and they also added some cuts to high school classes based on class size to cover the gap.
There is also some expected increase in state aid which will help re-fund the elem music and art.

They clearly stated last night that transportation is reimbursed at 80%. So every $1 of savings in transportation costs would net a true $0.20 savings on the local tax levy.

Anonymous said...

Marching Band budget= 28,000 About 60 kids... 467 per kid... Cuts to extracurricular activities need to be equitable...

Anonymous said...

If the budget is voted down, and a contingency budget is imposed, would the board have to replace the cut programs? My guess is that this board would just go ahead and keep the cuts in a contingency budget to spite everybody.

Anonymous said...

Library and fourth grade instumental music are not back in....yet? And Oberg and Pallas will never let that happen.
The half hour of elementary school time reinstated resulted from discovering a binding arbitration from Walts era that required teacher planning time occur during school day. If the kids aren't in school it is not the school day.
Yet Oberg likes buying sound systems, uniforms and a whole list of equipment items rather than restoring library and instrumental music.
And his rationale is that administration knows best. So tell me again why 400 people turned out last week to participate in a BOE budget workshop and the board spent three hours last night seeking to improve the budget when the president still has the audacity to state that Pallas, Mitchell, Hoeft and other Walts' appointees know what is best for us and damn the public input.
Why do we have the wrong person in the wrong job at this critical time when kid's educational future is on the line? And VanOrman is doing nothing other than rubber stamping the insanity.

Anonymous said...

4th grade instrumental music/chorus remains out of budget.. if I remember correctly that "saves" the district 180,000. Does anyone know how many kids participate in those programs? If the Administrators do agree to a pay freeze , where would that money be used? NO one on the BOE asked...

Anonymous said...

12:06 it was discussed at the beginning of the meeting. The discussion included information from when Walts was the superintendent relating to "planning periods". The restoration of the 30 minutes had a direct relationship to the "planning period and I am para phrasing that kids are to be in school during that time.

Funds to restore art and music 12 FTE came from changes in the high school. For example classes that have only 5 student have been merged and so on to eliminated FTE at the HS level.

The other topic discussed by" George" was the true cost of bussing. I have requested further clarification on the 80/20% cost. He stated that for every $1.00 we cut in transportation it only nets us $.20. This is because of state money we are reimbursed ...and that the money from the state can not transfer to other programs. So does that mean that proposed saving on eliminating secondary option and 5-5 open enrollment is 20% of the projected savings? One step further if our budgeted cost are 12mil what is our TRUE cost?

Shannon Kozak

Anonymous said...

7:35 am
To further your point compare the cost of co-curricular vs interscholastic sports. ( see page 56 via link) 235k vs 1.8 million

http://web001.greece.k12.ny.us/files/filesystem/SUPERINTENDENT'S%20PROPOSED%20BUDGET%20BOOK%20March%209%202011.pdf

Shannon Kozak

SCATS said...

To 2:32AM ~~ It can be spelled either way ;)

Regarding the interscholastics sports budget figure: That $1.8 million you see being tossed about is NOT the total cost of the program! Additional costs for transportation to & from practices, events, etc. are thrown in under transportation in the budget book and costs for things like field maintenance are under the buildings & grounds budget and so on. They do NOT want you to know the actual true and complete cost of sports for any reason! If you knew that figure, you'd be beyond furious ;)

To 7:48AM ~~ No, I don't think they "have to" restore anything if the budget goes down.

Anonymous said...

Scats, Thank you for adding the info re sports, I am aware but many are not. ;) Shannon

SCATS said...

To 7:50AM ~~ Last week was a "hearing" not a workshop. FYI, Oberg has one deaf ear. If you talked into the wrong side, he heard nothing.

To Shannon ~~ Thank you for your explanations & input. George must have been George Hubbard, a former BOE member and able number-cruncher. If he says 20% is the true cost of transportation AFTER REIMBURSEMENTS, then you CAN believe it.

Anonymous said...

Does this new found way of busing costs include the cost of buying the busses?
This 20%-80% - am I to understand the 80% is now free?

SCATS said...

To 9:37AM ~~ Free?? In GCSD??? You MUST be joking!!! FYI, reimbursements for such things are NOT new. Many of these items have been "aidable" for years though the percentages can change.

Anonymous said...

I want to add a thought and it pertains to the Women's Gymnastic team...please investigate if the cutting for this sanctioned varsity sport violates the title 9 law. I am not well versed on it how ever ad first glance it appears that you may have a foundation for restoration.
Shannon Kozak

Any feedback is welcome!

Anonymous said...

Scats, if we base the transportation cost at 20% of total, then is the proposed savings via ending of secondary option not as stated in the proposal but rather 20% of the approx. savings of 750k? If this is the case then why is there no mention fo what the state actually reimburses in the study on SOC and cost savings for transportation? ANyone????

Shannon Kozak

SCATS said...

To Shannon ~~ Re: Title 9 law: I don't know. Is that the law where they have to offer women's teams as well as men's?

GREAT QUESTION about the study, Shannon! Now you are starting to see the crapple these studies truly are! Also, in the budget book, don't they have to allow for the FULL COST of transportation and then await the reimbursements? In other words, don't they pay upfront and get funding back later in the year? When that funding comes back, is the BOE notified and shown the amount when it gets dumped into district coffers?

Anonymous said...

I want to lend my support to GTA in any effort they may want to put forth to get the budget defeated!
It is a noble cause.

I want to lend my support to the school board when the budget gets defeated and they put additional pressure on GTA to agree to a pay freeze.

Ain't I clever?

Anonymous said...

So cuting busing saves 20% (or ONLY 20% according to some).

Just a reminder: not cutting busing saves nothing!

Anonymous said...

GCSD must meet one to not violate the title IX. The parents must bring the suit and it is likely based on stats that they will win!

Does Title IX require institutions to meet “quotas”?
No. Every institution has three options to meet the participation standard of Title IX, only one of which is to provide athletic participation opportunities in substantial proportion to each gender enrollment. They only need to meet one of the following:
Option 1: Compare the ratio of male and female athletes to male and female undergraduates; if the resulting ratios are close, the school is probably in compliance with the participation standard.
Option 2: Demonstrate that the institution has a history and continuing practice of program expansion for the underrepresented gender.
Option 3: Demonstrate that the institution has already effectively accommodated the interests and abilities of the underrepresented gender.

Shannon Kozak

Anonymous said...

@shannon

If you're interested in taking a look at state aid and the transportation reimbursement, go here:

https://stateaid.nysed.gov/

and type in "Greece"

Anonymous said...

@11:40 Thank you for the link. It indicates state aid totaling $11,042,621. Based on that report the reported savings based on ending school choice options, specifically secondary option and k-5 signature school choice, does not translate to actual savings for our district! Bussing costs will be primarily reduced at the state funding end, not that the school taxpayers. ( for sake of argument it is all tax payer money as George stated it is not a dollar for dollar savings)
Based on this information we may reduce the fleet and bussing but I question the validity of the proposed savings in the school of choice study report.

Shannon Kozak

george hubbard said...

To: SCATS

Re: BOE meeting and 2011-12 budget.

1. Members of the Superintendent’s Finance Advisory Committee (FiComm) were invited to speak at BOE meeting last night about the proposed 2011-12 budget.

2. I made an informal presentation. I addressed the context of the proposed 2011-12 budget reductions... in terms of spending CUTS vs. spending DEFERRALS.

3. My message was that without clarification, the current proposed budget is incomplete... because it does not sustain the operation of GCSD on a long-term basis. Therefore the budget should not be made to stand alone.

4. It can be instructive to compare the budget for last year (2009-10)... with next year. Last year the budget total was $195.9M... next year $195.9M On the outside, these appear about equal... GCSD appears to move ahead two years at an added cost of $0.4M.

5. However, looking inside the budgets leads to a different conclusion:

5a. Bus replacement: Last year $1.5M, next year zero.

5b. Capital improvements (replacement roofs, boilers etc): Last year $3.9M, next year $0.1M.

6. Two budgets that appear similar on the outside, are $5M apart on the inside.

7. CUTS: When budgets reduce administration/instruction by removing the costs for salaries, benefits, materials etc, anticipated spending is CUT.

8. DEFERRALS: When budgets reduce funds to replace roofs, boilers etc, anticipated spending is DEFERRED (not CUT) because the needs/costs remain and do not go away.

9. In summary:

9a. Putting the proposed $195.9M budget before voters may be the better choice among available options... but not because it looks better on the outside than on the inside.

9b. I suggested that budget-spending CUTS be differentiated from budget-spending DEFERRALS... as the budget is discussed in public.

9c. And, I urged BOE to look ahead at how best to communicate/explain their choice to voters.

9d. Certain opportunities could become available to BOE... if they take action on reorganization of schools and busing etc.
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Posted comments invited.
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George Hubbard

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hubbard,

Thank you for writing in as I was listening ad was hard to catch everything.

Can you please clarify the bus cost issue the 80/20% finding? I was one parent that spoke in favor of cutting school of choice bussing as it appears that the savings is close to $2 million based on the Advisory committee report. Can you explain why the savings is not the indicated $2 million and how the state reimbursements effect what is a net savings and how it translates to money that can be applied to other areas for example a school day program like chorus/band?

Thank you
Shannon Kozak

Anonymous said...

Scats; is it true the board plans another vote later this year to buy busses and money for building fixup?
Are these items not normaly regular budget items? If not, why not?

SCATS said...

To 6:07PM ~~ Unless they discussed holding another vote last night, then I have NOT heard the BOE discuss it. What I did hear was that when the budget was originally presented to them, they were told that holding a vote in the fall (Dec. preferred because they are more likely to have a positive outcome then (seniors are away)) to fund bus purchases and building repairs was a good option. These things COULD be regular budget items, but they don't have to be. These items COULD be voted on in May as separate proposals, but they can always waste our money and hold another vote in the fall. It's all a game.

We'll be watching to see if they decide to spend the money on another vote in the fall since last year they didn't want to put the budget up for a second time so taxpayers could let them know if they did their job, or not.

Anonymous said...

Maybe scats could give people who will be away for the late fall vote for raising the taxes, information on how to obtain an absentee ballot. The district usually only sends those out to the senior housing facilities in Greece especially to deceased people to fill them out and vote for the "correct" candidates.

Charlie Hubbard said...

You are right Scats about the cost of a second vote last year being a big deal.
Let me be very clear it was nothing short of PURE HYPOCRACY.

I truly hope this community remembers how their vote was SPIT ON.
I truly hope taxpayers remember how disrespected the school board has been to them.
You can bet I didn't forget.

SCATS said...

To 6:30PM ~~ They need to contact the District Clerk. I'm not sure there's much to tell them until we know of a date the vote is set for.

george hubbard said...

To: Shannon 5:08pm

Re: George’s 80%/20% statement.

1. I made mention of 80%/20% last night more than once... it is context dependent... not knowing for certain what you may have heard... let me work from this statement.

2. “For each dollar saved in transportation, GCSD saves 20 cents for local taxpayers (tax levy)”.

3. For the sake of brevity, my shorthand statement mixes EXPENSE and REVENUE in the same sentence (risky), but here is what it says:

3a. Hypothetically if GCSD reduced budgeted EXPENSE by $1 for Transportation,...

3b. and made no other changes in the budget,...

3c. the implied impact on budget REVENUE would be a reduction of $1...

3d. thereafter expecting State Aid would be reduced by 80 cents (per SA formula)...

3f. and the remaining 20 cents reduction in REVENUE to flow to tax levy (local taxpayers).

4. The 80% and 20% figures are round numbers I use for simplicity and impact... please check with BOE or District staff for more precise figures.

5. I am not on the “Advisory committee” you cite... I am not familiar with the reported $2M savings.

5a. That said, I would expect a reported $2M savings to mean a $2M reduction in budgeted EXPENSE.

5b. While the $2M savings could be EXPENDED on a different item of expense... a dollar-for-dollar transfer would be neutral to budget EXPENSE total... and neutral to budget REVENUE total... but probably not neutral on budget REVENUE TAX LEVY.

5c. As can be see from my example above, transferring budget dollars from transportation to other budget items... usually are not tax levy neutral... because the reimbursement rate on transportation is so much higher than for most other expenses.
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Does this help?... posted comments invited.
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George Hubbard

Anonymous said...

George,

Thank you very much. If I understand I and I think I do, this is why even if we cut 3 million in busing budgeted item that does not create 3 million of dollars to spend elsewhere. ( I am not sure where the state aid goes to?)

So if we have $12 million budgeted for transportation, does the tax levy only collect "20%" based on anticipated aid? I am still trying to understand the "flow" of the bus money. Do we the tax payer pay up front and wait for NYS to cut the district a check? And if that is the case is the money that is received from the state only able to be applies to transportation?

Example: if the tax payers pay up front and we get a "refund check" or state aid later in the year is the district free to spend that as they wish? Can they bank it in anticipation of next year?

Shannon

george hubbard said...

To: Shannon 7:37am

Re: Analyzing budget changes.

1. You ask, if the budget is cut $3M in transportation, does it create $3M to spend elsewhere?

1a. Let me call the latter Item “E” for “elsewhere”?

2. As stated, the answer to your question is indeterminate... you make no mention of REVENUE sources.

Q#1: For your hypothetical swap, what is the presumed SA reimbursement rate for Item “E”?

Q#2: For your hypothetical swap, is there any constraint on tax levy?
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3. As for your questions Re: the mechanics of SA payments/timing, I defer to the experts on District staff. The details can become endless to an outsider.
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Comment/question postings invited.
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George Hubbard

Anonymous said...

Thanks George that answers it.

Ok I hope I got it ;)
lets say 2 million cut is cut in bussing and the cost of "E" is 2 million with no applicable state aid. The 2 million cut from the bussing budget does not create enough revenue to fund "E" at its full cost of 2 million dollars. So the money needed to fund "E" would have to be gotten from the tax levy.

Did I get it?

Shannon

george hubbard said...

To: Shannon 1:26pm

As the line goes in My Fair Lady, 'By golly, I think she's got it!'