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Supt. Proposes Cutting $7.5M & 54 Employees

Grim-faced administrators, somber school board members and over 200 parents, teachers and community members assembled in the Hommocks Auditorium on February 2 as Superintendent Paul Fried laid out a series of budget-cutting options and recommendations.

Dr. Fried laid out his recommendations to save $7 million in the Mamaroneck School District budget for 2010-2011

In all, he proposed slashing $7.5 million and cutting nearly 54 positions, including 22 teachers. Though clearly unhappy with his proposals, Dr. Fried said they represented “the best of the worst.”

If adopted, the cuts would result in a budget 3% above last year’s, an increase Dr. Fried believes the community will support.

$7.5 Million Cuts: Half for Instructional Programs

Dr. Fried quickly outlined $3.7 million in cuts outside the education core (for example, insurance, field trips, and professional development) but offered more details and options when it came to cutting instructional programs. (See below for details.)

Half-Day Kindergarten Coming?

At the elementary level, Dr. Fried presented two options for cutting kindergarten and one for increasing class size at every grade. A fourth choice, going to a “Princeton Plan,” would move all students in a particular grade to one or two schools, however Dr. Fried did not believe this was viable for September.

Option A, to cut kindergarten to half-day for most students, was preferred by both Dr. Fried and by the elementary principals.

Proposed Cuts at Elementary School

*Staff Reduction Savings
Option A:

full-day K:
all MAS classes
1 at Central

half-day K:
all other classes

8 teachers

2 aides

$1,352,200
Option B:

half-day K in all schools

11 teachers

6 aides

$1,746,000
Option C:

increase class size by 2

7 teachers $1,212,800

*Each option also includes reducing 1 instructional coach, 5 special ed aides, and 5 special ed teacher assistants

Under Option A, all Mamaroneck Avenue School students would continue to have full-day kindergarten and there would be one full-day class at Central School. All incoming students who fell below benchmarks when tested in the spring would also attend a full-day program, either at MAS or Central.

Elsewhere, students would go half-day, either in the morning or the afternoon. Currently, most students attend a hybrid program with five morning sessions a week plus three afternoon sessions.

As proposed, half-day kindergarten classes would be limited to 20, not the current 22. At MAS, the limit would rise to 20 from the current 18.

In explaining her preferred option, MAS Principal Carrie Amon noted that half the entering students at MAS fall below benchmarks. Dr. Fried explained that offering full-day programs for just this half “would be in effect creating segregated classrooms” because of the large number of English language learners.

Central Principal Carol Houseknecht said the principals thought fewer students would be impacted by changes to kindergarten than by increasing class sizes again.

Class limits were already raised by two last year; raising the cap again could create classes with as many as 29 students. “We are collectively uncomfortable with that,” said Murray Principal Jennifer Monaco.

Going to half-day kindergarten would require modifying the current teachers’ contract to adjust dismissal time for the morning session.

At the Hommocks: Teams Trimmed or Eliminated?

For the Hommocks Middle School, two options were explored in depth: “super teams” for Grades 6 and 8; and “super teams” plus a modified schedule.

The preferred option, as explained by Dr. Fried and Hommocks Principal Dr. Seth Weitzman, would include super teams but not schedule changes. Class size would rise from the current 22 to 25 or 26. Grade seven, with fewer students, would keep its four-team structure.

Grades 6 and 8 would drop to three teams, with students from the “disbanded” team integrated into the other three. Two of the “new” teams would retain four sections of students at each grade level in each academic area.

The “super sized” teams would have six sections in each academic area. These teams would share an additional teacher in each academic discipline, with the extra teachers splitting their time between grades 6 and 8.

The super team configuration (Option A) would save more than $1 million, but still allow for longer blocks of academic time every day.

Proposed Middle School Cuts
Staff Reduction
Savings
Option A:

  • Super teams in grades 6 & 8
  • Regular teams in 7th grade
  • 9 period day
6.4 teachers
2 teacher assistants
10 special ed aides
$1,006,610
Option B:

  • Super teams in grades 6 & 8
  • Regular team in 7th grade
  • 8 period day
  • No foreign language in 6th grade
all above
plus 3.4 teachers
$1,397,610

Another $400,000 could be saved by both reconfiguring the teams and moving from nine to eight periods in a day (Option B). However, sixth graders would lose their language survey classes, and it would be difficult to retain the longer academic blocks.

Furthermore, changing the schedule would require approval of two-thirds of the teachers.

Additional savings could be had by eliminating grade 8 teams, but that option was rejected, explained Dr. Weitzman. “Moving us back to a junior high school model is moving us back a generation,” he said.

Staffing Cuts at the High School: Will Teachers Have Time for Students?

When it came to the high school, Dr. Fried’s recommendations were to cut staff, including one teacher for reading, math, foreign language, special education and AIS reading. In addition, he proposed cutting a guidance counselor, a 0.4 business teacher (2 classes), a 0.5 psychologist, a Support Center teacher assistant and 1.5 aides. These cuts would save $861,210.

A physical education teacher could also be cut, but that would lead to class sizes larger than allowed under the current teachers’ contract.

MHS Principal Dr. Mark Orfinger expressed concern that the proposed cuts – on top of those from last year – would hit the school hard and leave teachers with less time for students. For example, English teachers would go to 117 students, well above the 80 recommended by the National Conference of Teachers of English. There would be no reading teacher left.

Althletic Cuts: Preserving Opportunities at All Levels

Dr. Fried and Bari Suman, director of athletics, recommended cuts in both staff and teams. Their proposal would eliminate the district’s three athletic curriculum coordinators and 14 program assistant coaches. Also cut would be 8 teams and 9 coaches, all in sports that now have more than 3 teams.

This plan would save $164,353 and affect around 175 students. However, it would preserve opportunities for play at all levels, from modified to varsity. (Intramural teams were eliminated in budget cuts over the past two years.)

$3.7 Million in Cuts to Non-Instructional Staff and Programs

Dr. Fried used updated information on health insurance, utilities and other expenses to calculate potential savings for non-instructional budget items. These, plus a variety of non-staffing program cuts, would yield savings of more than $3.7 million. The proposal included:

  • cuts of $130,000 from professional development
  • cuts of $81,000 in technology upgrades for older classroom equipment
  • less for class trips, no funds for those at Hommocks (cuts $24,500; leaves $40,900)
  • less for elementary Lincoln Center program (cuts $20,000; leaves $20,000)
  • eliminating funds for musicals at the Hommocks and MHS ($38,400) and Pep Band ($2,000)
  • eliminating 5 extra-curricular clubs at the Hommocks and 4 at MHS ($13,000)
  • less for Teacher Institute (cuts $30,000; leaves $35,000) and the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Community Counseling Center (cuts $23,000; leaves $40,000)
  • eliminating a total of 5.14 clerical and 2.0 custodial positions across the district ($425,548)
Immediate Reaction: Concern for Kindergarten, Special Ed, Teaching

Changes to the kindergarten raised the most comment and concern on February 2 -both during and after the meeting. Two speakers suggested the board should go for a higher tax increase in order to preserve the current program.

Some attendees questioned whether the cuts would hit special education disproportionately, despite administrators’ explanations that the recommendations were based on projected enrollments and adhered to legal mandates.

MHS teacher Kathy Donnison wondered if the school would be better served by cutting a principal (going to 3 from 4) rather than eliminating teachers. Dr. Fried rejected this idea, both to keep academics strong and “for health and safety reasons.”

The Teacher’s Union Responds

Asked for comment after the meeting, MTA President Ann Borsellino echoed Dr. Fried: “There is nothing being cut that does not hurt.”

“I do not envy the BOE facing the task of deciding which cuts will hurt less,” she stated later in an email. Noting “that it’s early in the process,” she expressed hope that when Dr. Fried revisits his options, “he’ll discover some viable alternate cuts. I believe there are still possibilities that don’t affect students.”

She acknowledged, however, that teachers realize there may be fewer teachers and larger classes.

Ms. Borsellino did not comment on possible contract concessions from the union.

What Comes Next?

February 2 was only the beginning, stressed Dr. Fried and Linnet Tse, president of the school board. Other options may arise at the next budget workshop on Tuesday February 9. (Check the district website for updates on time and place.)

And future proposals may be shaped by community feedback. Already, parents of pre-school children are expressing concern about the kindergarten cut-backs in emails circulating through the district.

PTA leaders at all levels are encouraging everyone to accept the board’s invitation to speak up, either at the February 9 meeting or by emailing board@mamkschools.org. “People should come out and be heard,” said Joan Capaldi, PTA co-president for Chatsworth School. “Now is the time.”

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39 comments to Supt. Proposes Cutting $7.5M & 54 Employees

  • Lauren

    I was wondering if the Gazette could ask a follow-up question to Ms. Borsellino. She expressed hope that “[Dr. Fried] will discover some viable alternate cuts. I believe there are still possibilities that don’t affect students.” Could she elaborate on what those cuts are? It sounds like she has discovered something that everyone else has been searching for. Why is she keeping this good news to herself?

  • Anon E Mous

    There is no reason to expect voters to approve a 3% tax increase because they did last year. Times change and people can learn from their mistakes. Any school tax increase is unacceptable.

    Our district has an unending desire for more money while the well has run dry. We need better education, not more taxes.

    It’s so simple, even a child can understand it.

    And, as Steve Forbes said, ‘The politicians say “we” can’t afford a tax cut. Maybe we can’t afford the politicians.’

    • Tax the Wealthy Bureaucrats

      Yeah – Steve Forbes has been foaming at the mouth about tax cuts his entire life. You would too if you were a member of the lucky sperm bank he was born into – of course he wants tax cuts, he has more to lose than 99.98% of the population today w/out tax breaks.

      Personally, I am all for tax cuts if one has truly EARNED the money themselves – as opposed to INHERITED the wealth as in the case of Steve Forbes. There are FAR TOO MANY people in this country, riding on the coattails of wealth from their parents, grandparents and various estates. Sure, they like to make the claim that they doubled or tripled their money since then. But what if the playing fields were all level? How many of them would be living in the homes they are today or sitting on the kind of wealth that only their trust funds would be able to deliver? The answer is a Less than Zero.

      Let’s make sure that the lucky sperm bankers are finally going to have to do some work or pay for their luck of the “straw”.

      The only Tea Party that I’ll ever attend is one that uses ice Tea and sipped through a straw!.

  • interested

    I read the presentation with interest. It has the usual hortatory reference to children being first (“Children first”) though implicitly it loudly proclaims “Unionized teachers first”. Why would no mention whatsoever of contract renegotiation, re-opening, scratching and re-writing otherwise appear in this document ? What is the risk ? Those teachers need jobs too, I assume. There was threat of losing them to Rye, Scarsdale or Santa Fe. No longer. Tear up the contract in the name of exacting circumstances and get to work, Mr Superintendent. The next one should also make sure that contracts are written in such a way that the teachers don’t run the schools (class sizes, votes on organization) but the other way round. Surely 260k$ plus insane benefits should buy us a savvy negotiator. Else, don’t spend them, and let the Pdt of the Teachers Union (on the payroll) double as SUperintendent too.

    • Concerned tax payer

      There is talk in the community of voting down any budget that has any increase over 0%. That would be a monumental mistake for everybody involved. People need to understand exactly what that means. No matter what form the budget ultimately takes, there will be unhappy parties, but those parties will be besides themselves if they vote down a budget. If we as a community have to go to a contingency budget everyone loses. True there will be a 0% tax increase then, but your property values will plummet because the school system will be a disaster and it is good schools that keep the property values here so inflated, so even if you don’t have children in the school system you will be affected whether you like it or not.

      More importantly though is the effect voting down a budget will have on the children of this community. No matter what side you take on this thing, by voting down a budget you also put the innocent children square in the crosshairs of a disaster. Not only will there have to be half day kindergarten across the board in order to get to a 0% tax increase, but all the children will be sitting in overcrowded classrooms with overburdened teachers after all of the best teachers are laid off. When lay offs happen, it is last in and first out according to the contract. Like it or not, it is based purely on seniority and has nothing to do with merit, which means that the most enthusiastic, youngest teacher making the smallest salary gets canned first while the dead wood who haven’t kept up with the latest teaching methods and trends and make the biggest salaries remain. Additionally, you can kiss all extracurricular activities and athletics goodbye. I implore people to stop and think about what they are doing when they talk about voting down a budget. They are hurting not only the teachers and administrators that they may be angry at, rightly or wrongly, but ultimately they are hurting themselves and most important the children of our community who have no say in this and whose futures are on the line. Is that what you really want to do when you vote down a budget? I hope that cooler heads prevail and however unsavory a budget is ultimately put forward to the voters that it gets passed because the nuclear option would be a calamity.

      • Anon E Mous

        Yes, hopefully the cooler heads will prevail, reaching a real solution. Such will require more effective education and the recognition that in this economy the tax increase well already has run dry.

        Perhaps you will join the cooler heads and contribute to the solution. There are more effective schools operating less expensively. Increasing taxes does not improve property values. Inciting people with notions of nuclear calamity is destructive, not educative.

        So just to encourage some real thought, suppose the MUFSD were to disband, contracts becoming just paper. Then a merger is undertaken with a nearby district saving administrative expenses, e.g. one less superintendent, and providing for the best in teaching under terms where leadership runs the schools?

        It is so simple, even a child could understand it. And as Bill Archer said, ‘We must care for each other more, and tax each other less.’

        • Concerned Tax Payer

          Couldn’t agree more… The “property value will plummet” cry is a tired and unfounded argument… Sky high property taxes will have a much worse impact on your property value, especially in this economy… I pay over $27K a year in property taxes for less than a postage stamp size piece of land… It is ridiculous and unsustainable.

          So, instead of the scare tactics, I would suggest helping coming up with a solution to run schools more efficiently… I like the suggestions Anon put forward… They should be explored.

        • Concerned tax payer

          Can you imagine the litigation costs of what you propose? “it’s so simple even a child could understand it.” Surely our tax dollars are better spent educating our students as opposed to paying the lawyers to defend the inevitable lawsuit from the union in the scenario that you propose.

          BTW, I wasn’t trying to incite people with “notions of nuclear calamity,” but what do you honestly think our schools will look like if we go to a contingency budget and an additional $3.4 million needs to be trimmed from the budget on top of the cuts already recommended? Is it really fair to the children of the community to cut the best teachers out of the system in the massive layoffs that will be inevitable in a contingency budget? I moved to this community to educate my children in what was considered an excellent school district. I too am concerned about escalating taxes, but the time and place to deal with the teacher’s contract is when it expires next year. Voting for a contingency budget hurts the students most and those are the people I am most concerned with.

  • excessive

    Is the Pdt of the Teacher union a paid non teaching position ?

  • Ech O This

    Dr. Fried tried, on multiple occasions, to collaborate with the teachers for concessions TO NO AVAIL. So many ideas already expressed are so key. We have so many more administrators per students than any other district. Having had two boys graduate from MHS, it is so clear that some of these administrators have hardly anything to do. For example, can the Asst. Principal in charge of scheduling (his salary constituting about four English teachers)be replaced by a low level administrator, particularly since his sole job is an administrative job anyway. I don’t think other districts have a vice principal do schedules. Also, why aren’t our teachers making concessions in order not to lose colleagues as many other neighboring districts have (Scarsdale, Hastings, for example. Our teachers already earn the highest salaries and have the most generous benefit packages.

  • Wondering

    Since we have hired several supervisors of curriculum, maybe we can actually have some of these supervisors actually take the place of some of the teachers who were fired, thereby taking the edge of the shortage of teachers (particularly English), and discovering first hand the challenges of teaching 117 students.

    Also, I see form your article that $35,000 is left in the Teacher Institute Program. In times of drastic budget shortfalls, I think an extra teacher would be a lot more helpful to the community than district funded teacher training.

  • Negotiator

    It is time for the School Board to stop being a rubber stamp for the lame duck and overpaid Superintendent. The cuts need to be made from the top down, e.g., the Assistant Supers and Asst.principals, not teachers and aides. We have so much fat at the top who do nothing for the students. I would like to know what all these highly paid adminstrators do all day while the teachers and aides are hard at work.

  • Negotiator

    Cuts need to be made from the top down. There are an excessive amount of highly paid Asst Supers and Asst. Principals. Why cut teachers and aides who have direct contact with our children?

  • Former Resident

    Here’s the problem…. The average salary of a teacher in the Mamaroneck school district, in the 2006-2007 year (the latest I could find) was $87932, plus benefits.

  • For Education

    Increase the school tax. As a parent of 2 school age children, I can attest that our schools need more funds not less. I can’t even imagine what the cuts will do to our schools. As is, classrooms are overcrowded, there are not enough quality after school programs, and grounds need an upgrade. Investments in our kids education pays great dividends.

    • Anon E Mous

      No amount more money solved the problems of education before, but more money was always thought needed. Perhaps the solution is less money used more effectively.

      Alternatively, there’s Montville and our national search :-)
      Please use your imagination and also feel free to invest more, but we cannot bankrupt our community and its residents with more taxes and leave the debt to be paid by the children.

      As Thomas Huxley said, ‘Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every conceived notion, follow humbly wherever and whatever abysses nature leads, or you will learn nothing.

  • Proud Teacher

    Last year Mamaroneck Teachers gave back a 1/2 days pay, increased the % to their health care contribution and the district froze its contribution to the teachers dental and vision. Very few residents thanked the teachers and even fewer seem to remember what the teachers did in 2009.

    The comments at last night’s meeting were cheap and offensive. As usual, exaggerated and misinformation was distributed through handouts and at the microphones. I don’t know why the community and the district thinks that good will is a one-way street.

    Teacher bashing has become as trendy as being a Boston Redsox fan. Mamaroneck teachers go above and beyond what is printed in their contract on a daily basis. That someone has the audacity to stand up and say “I want to be paid back for the 15 minutes early that teachers leave and go to union meetings” and call teachers “rich” displays a blatant lack of respect and lack of knowledge of teacher contracts. What about lunch time that is given up for our students–your kids–on a daily basis? The contract doesn’t say teachers have to do this.

    Throwing mud at your children’s teachers is not the way to achieve concessions. All it does is create bad will.

  • Concerned Community Member

    This is a response to Proud Teacher. She or He is exactly right that throwing mud at this budget mess will not help. We–all of us–need to make sure the conversation remains fact based and constructive.
    So first, let’s get the facts straight. The concession offered last year totaled just over $200,000. That is .1% of the total budget of $120million. A symbolic gesture of teamwork but really, just symbolic. The contractual salary increases (around $7million) were still taken. And the huge, steamrolling salary and benefit costs are crippling our district and forcing us to make horrible choices that don’t address the root of the problem.
    The other thing to be clear about is the community’s regard for teachers. There is not a person in this community who does not want to see the education system remain vibrant and strong. This starts with the right number of teachers teaching the right mixture of classes to the right number of children. And there is not a person who thinks these teachers should not be paid and treated like the professionals they are. But our method for financing and managing the system is broken. Our contracts make the cost of each teacher unsustainably high. Our contracts also do not allow each teacher to operate like a professional. It is true that many teachers work far more than 7.5 hours/day and work during lunch. But the contracts say they may not. As a result, we hire layers of extra bodies in the form of aides, consultants etc. that bloat our payroll with unnecessary salary, benefit and pension costs. If the contracts reflected the professional nature of the work being done by our teachers, we could make our system far more efficient and productive.
    This community has incurred a 65% tax increase in the past 6 years. The proposed 5.8% increase will bring that total increase to 77%. No community can handle this sort of tax pressure. It just doesn’t work. The model is broken. We are not alone. The UAW is in the paper all the time for the very same reasons.
    We need to work collectively to fix this. The unions must help us break the cycle of uncontrolled costs and cutting around the edges that does nothing to solve the problem. We need to release the constricting language of the contracts and eliminate layers of non-core (non teachers) from the system. We need the unions to acknowledge that the benefit costs and pension contributions are beyond the ability of a tax base to fund. We need your help. And if we make the system more efficient by losing the layers and sharing the benefit costs in a model more similar to the private sector, then eventually, we may even be able to increase salaries for those core people remaining.
    There may be those amongst us who see this as a problem of individuals but it is not. This is all about a system that is broken. And you, the union members can step forward and take action now to help move us towards the inevitable, or you can dig in your heels and “get while the getting is good.” But this community is now paying attention and willing to do what it takes to get to the right fix of the real problem.

    • Proud Teacher

      The teachers cannot be blamed for the years that Sherry King and the board put up 9% increases and nobody blinked. Anyone could have seen this coming 7 years ago. Even when times are good, people should still be watching their wallets.

      Teachers have spouses losing jobs and face escalating costs and decreasing home values. It happens in other communities too. Schools cannot be run like business, like in the private sector. It doesn’t work. Education is labor intensive.

      Teachers understand and sympathize with the community. But Budget Initiative Meetings should be productive forums to work on the budget, not times to alienate and victimize teachers. The fact that many community members do not agree with unions has been stated loud and clear. We get the message. But let’s all roll up our sleeves and start being more productive. What good does it do to distribute fliers which only incite adversarial behavior? If you want teachers to help out, the community can help too by putting your feelings for unions on the shelf for now, and show us that you support us and appreciate us. We are all in this together and we hear you.

      • Not a rich resident

        I have nothing but the utmost respect for our teachers and want them to earn a solid income and have a secure position. However, the union contracts cannot continue as they have been. With cost of living percentages at 0%, it is untenable for the average teacher to be making 6 increases, on top of step. We’d love to give them that–we just can’t, not without cutting programs for kids or raising our taxes even more. So yes, let’s roll up our sleeves and start being more productive. The board has proposed some ideas — what is the union offering? Because it all shouldn’t fall on the community year in and year out to pony up and pay for the shortfall in the form of taxes.

  • Concerned

    I hope the parents of pre-schoolers who expressed their desire for no cuts to the kindergarten day consider the alternatives. If cuts occur in the sports or academic programs of the older grades, they are going to have a much greater negative impact on their children (grades 7-12 is 6 years versus 9 months of afternoon kindergarten). As any mother of an 8th grader can attest, it’s much more important for them to have rich extracurricular options than for a 5-year-old to have a longer kindergarten day. And Bronxville and Chappaqua, two of the best school districts in our county, both have half-day kindergarten.

  • concernededucator

    Proud teacher I can’t agree with you more. I have lived in this community, have my children in the schools, and also teach in our schools. I also have had a spouse lose a job and had to deal with high tax increases over the years so when I hear parents slam teachers the way they did last night I want to just scream and then cry. Parents you have no idea how hard we work and how much we put into our classrooms and our students and families – you talk about the contract but we all work way above our contract in order to provide your children with vibrant and interesting learning experiences.
    We continually educate ourselves, write grants, go to workshops, stay late, go early, help students, meet with you before school, during school, and after school, and the list goes on. We need to find a way to work together. Of course it is easy to take a look at our salaries and benefits and because we are the largest group in the district. We have the largest targets on our backs, but why aren’t you asking about the excess of administrators in this district? or the fact that we still have coaches and a literacy design team that does not impact your child’s learning? Yet they are cutting programs that DIRECTLY affect children and that is ok with you? It is a sad day in Mamaroneck when we are more concerned with positions that have no interaction with children than keeping teachers in front of children, enriching the lives of children through programs such as Lincoln Center or taking School trips. You can gripe as much as you want about the contract, salaries, and benefits, but you go to any district across this county and you will find contracts with higher pay scales and similar benefits – so start worrying about what really matters in this whole thing YOUR KIDS!!!!! because they are the ones losing out… and our dear Supt. will be gone collecting a pension from NYS and a salary from NJ…How do you like that??
    Oh and by the way, why isn’t anyone questioning the fact that we now have a full time PR person… that raised her salary by $20,000, did you know that?

  • Reasonable approach

    To concerned educator and proud teacher: I think this needs to be put in perspective. Only a handful of people, one in particular, stood up last night to criticize the teachers union. I don’t believe this is how the majority of the community feels. But there is definitely a sense of frustration with the current system and that includes some items in the teachers contract. Many people do understand how hard teachers work and how much they care about their students but I think everyone will agree that the contract is a very restrictive document and does not leave the Superintendent with room to maneuver in terms of finding cost savings. But the community agreed to it and it is what it is. When negotiations begin for the next contract, I would be surprised if the community does not ask for some changes. That said, if you know of some cuts to make now that do not affect our students, please speak up. Send an email to Dr. Fried or ask a question at the next meeting or pass on the question to someone else who can ask. Parents who don’t work in the district do not know all of the details like which programs are worth cutting and which are worth saving. I have been paying attention, reading documents, and attending meetings but I have no idea what you are talking about when you refer to coaches (athletics?) and a literary design team. My kids are in elementary school and I can’t speak to anything beyond that. Everyone agrees that it is sad day when the Superintendent proposes to drop class trips. But if you know of a way to offset that, please help. Thank you.

  • Cocnernedparent

    I agree with the concerned teacher that there are many teachers in the district that go out of their way to give their all for the children and deserve every penny that they make. Yet the rigidity of the contract protects teachers who take all of theri sick days, and do the minimum (if that). I believe that the parent community would be much more understanding if teachers were all held to the same scrutiny and subject to the same economic realities that other working moms (and dads) face.

    I agree wholeheartedly that we are ridiculously top heavy in terms of administrators earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and the coaches and literacy design team (also paid more than teachers) should either be eliminated or put in the classroom in order to restore a reasonable student-teacher.
    ratio.

    Is there really full time PR person? How much is she paid? that’s just ridiculous, particularly in this time of financial crisis. Do we have a PR person since we have to put a rosy glow on a more sobering reality…

  • Anon E Mous

    Though the process may be difficult, it is so simple that a child can understand it.

    In the words of Oreo, ‘We must administer less – just what will we propose to pay a new nationally searched Superintendent? We must teach more – read the contract and then burn it. We must recognize how facilities and ‘place’ need to change – we are in a flatter, more technologically advanced and economically more fragile world. We must come to a new understanding – that educational quality is not necessarily correlated with financial expenditures. The decades when we had the ability to increase school taxes have ended as must the ‘Age of Expectation’. Now we must find and use the underutilized resources that are available to us to replace the dollars that we no longer have. Else our lasting education to the students will be that we did not know what we were doing and we will leave them little except debt and problems.

  • concernededucator

    Reasonableapproach and concerned parent I appreciate your thoughts and agree that there are many grateful parents in our community. Although only 1 parent spoke out directly against the teachers and the union there was a room full of parents applauding and another parent handing our what I would consider “propaganda” in fliers that were filled with complete untruths. This parent was quite vocal and making an effort to make sure everyone entering the board meeting received her fliers filled with lots of fiction.
    I agree that there may be teachers out there not pulling their weight but then why aren’t administrators doing their jobs? There are enough of them… they need to be in classrooms support teachers and building a good relationship with their staff. I will tell you that most of them spend their days in meetings and in offices. They are hardly seen in classrooms, so they need to be accountable for their work as well. As far as coaches… no not athletic coaches…. we employ 4 coaches – 1 at the Hommocks and 3 at the elementary schools. They are supposed to support teachers with literacy, math and technology needs through a professional development model of “coaching” teachers. They have no interaction with students. They have cut 1 position in the budget scenario proposals but truly they should cut all of them. In a perfect world, it would be great to keep these positions if they were really making an impact and affecting student achievement but they are not. The Literacy Design Team has been charged with writing curriculum at the elementary level. Teachers and the Literacy and Technology Coaches get paid a stipend for doing this work. Cut these programs and let our kids go on trips. How can they justify keeping these positions and taking trips away from the children?

    Yes, all those e mails that you get are from the PR person…. And she now works full-time.

  • concernededucator

    btw if they did cut the remaining coaching positions – that would equal 3 teaching salaries, plus if they cut the Literacy Design Team which is made up of 12-14 teachers each making a stipend…you would save well enough to reinstate the money needed for class trips and Lincoln Center, and who knows what more…maybe even a few teaching positions.

  • letsbereal

    Good feelings don’t pay the bills. Whether our teachers, some of them, most of them, are saints/heroes or not does not matter in the end when the economic facts have to be taken into account. There will be no money to pay pensions and healthcare as promised today – whether guaranteed by contract, law, constitution or the President of the Teachers’ union. This is a fact. Facts are stubborn. So we might as well start to accept reality, all of us and start planning and acting accordingly.

  • concerned

    Has anyone given any thought to the impact that cutting all those special education teachers and aides will have? This will not only impact students receiving special services, but also students in the mainstream classroom who aren’t receiving services. As a professional in this field of education, I have seen firsthand the amount of time and attention that students with special needs require. How will this be handled? The time spent by the teacher in modifying and accommodating these students will further retract from what we term our “average” students; not only will the student with special needs not be getting an appropriate education, but neither will the other students. This is not an idea situation. A mainstream classroom with inclusion requires support staff; it is unrealistic and unfair to expect one teacher to be able to “differentiate teaching styles” as they’d like to say. Teachers are human…can you imagine differentiating work for up to 25 or so students? This will have devastating effects on all our children. Furthermore, it is absolutely pathetic that in a district that collects enormous taxes, they are proposing cutting out art (decreasing the period by 10 minutes for K and 1). For K and 1 students, art is something they cherish and look forward to; this feels more like a district in an inner-city than an upper class suburb. It’s very depressing. I, for one, left Tuesday’s meeting, feeling cheated and angry. These cuts are horrific and will leave an imprint on our community’s morale.

  • alumni

    From what I gathered from reading and listening, the teachers have agreed to listen to the budget presentations and then decide about a one year concession that could be done without opening their contract to a legnthy negotiation process. This sounds both fair and reasonable to me. Wasn’t only a year ago we tried to ‘bail out’ the banking system and much of the money was squandered? Maybe waiting would have made that process smoother and more effective as well. I imagine that the teachers would be happy to give money to save jobs (like last year) or to keep class size down or to help the community — what they seem to be worried about is that the give back would be used to pad the consultant budget lines, pay for the full time PR person, maintain capstone classes like Chinese that only affect the tiniest number of kids, etc. Would you give money if you had no idea how it was going to be used? I wouldn’t!

  • momin10538

    I support cutting full day K across the board and offering an extended session (morning or afternoon) for all who would like to pay for it. Then, a full day option will exist for those who would like their K students to be in school all day (for free play, lunch, recess, trips, art, music, gym, library, etc…). And, the K teachers who are not retained by the district to teach the school may opt to work in this extension program. This should be a for-profit program with scholarships available to those parents who need it (they are working and they would like their children in school until 3). Then, for the 2.5 hours of school, daily, the teachers pack in solid academics. The developmental play is gone from the day. Any children at any site who are determined to be at risk for learning difficulties should be identified and placed into an intensive full day program similar to what is offered for pre-K students at Mamk Ave. now. This is a common K scenario in this country.

  • lance sterling

    all union are the same – grab until there isn’t anymore look at the auto union i was a union member lost everything when they close up

    ask people out of work would they take a cut to keep working lance

  • Anon E Mous

    Sometimes a few words can paint the picture of the ugly truth.

    http://nypublicpayrollwatch.com/daily_updates/archives/2010/02/albany_police_u.html#more

    And in the words of Anon E Mous, ‘It’s so simple, even a child can understand it.’

  • Admittedly Confused

    Anyone know why New York State property taxes don’t use the Mill Rate system like they do over in the neighborhing state of Connecticut? Seems much more complex in NYS but not sure why that is…….Any tax consultants or long time home owners know the answer to this? New York State taxes are not only one of the highest in the country but also one of the most complicated to understand how the costs and final tax numbers are derived from. Can this be changed in Albany?

    • Anon E Mous

      If our property taxes and municipal governments were simpler, the who and how of its financial waste would be easier to identify while the taxed and governed might need endure the burden of fairness :-)

      Have a very good reason for everything you do. – Laurence Olivier

  • Anon E Mous

    Dear readers,

    read here, http://nypublicpayrollwatch.com/daily_updates/archives/2010/02/recession_what_1.html#more

    or here, http://www.empirecenter.org/Articles/
    or here: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/public_workers_feel_no_pain_in_recession_hoAksRyqiv000FzZKvrq4O

    or read here, as described by Ms. Bang-Jensen, ‘ ‘It’s hard to believe there’s a recession,’ a friend recently observed, as he navigated the jam-packed parking lot at a suburban Albany shopping mall. While private-sector workers in the capital region have, in fact, suffered like everyone else during the downturn, many of those cars likely belonged to the favored not-so-few: state employees. ‘

  • Admittedly Confused

    LOL – and Ms. Bang-Jensen is going to be one of the least popular employees in the Capital region after the state workers get wind of her article in the NY Post.

    This recession is coined a white middle class male’s recession as this demographic has been hit particularly hard with layoffs. The numbers are an astounding 80% on a national basis – 80% of those who have lost their jobs and remain unemployed are white middle class/working class men.

    On a positive note, women now make up 60% of the workforce, bypassing men on the employment front for the first time ever. This is a major milestone for the ladies!!