MUST READ: Making Spending Cuts in All the Wrong Places — Texas Public Schools

H/T: Larry Lane. Read original article here

Texas does not need to use the Rainy Day Fund to plug the school financing hole.  Texas administrators also do not need to lay off classroom teachers. The per-pupil spending in Texas’ public schools is $11,567.00, and that is enough to teach the large majority of students the all-important knowledge and skills necessary for academic success IF (1) schools and teachers will practice consistent discipline and IF (2) quality curriculum is used. 

Here are some examples that teachers and concerned citizens have sent to me recently that indicate Texas’ problem is not a lack of financing but a lack of judgment from those who decide where taxpayers’ dollars should be spent.    

I received this today from an unnamed source.

Click on “more” to continue reading.

Here at xxxxxx, we are scheduled to lose 39 of our 110 teachers.  Our projected enrollment next year is 1500.  Many of our classrooms were created in the 1950s and 60s by subdividing the larger rooms, built in 1922.  Many rooms are without windows.  They are little more than closets.  We expect to have as many as 35-40 students in those cramped quarters. 

At this school, as many more in our district, we have 6 assistant principals, when two will do.  Each assistant has at least one clerk; some more.  We have a copy room clerk.  We have three clerks in the attendance office.  We have a financial clerk.  We have an office manager, who could also be the financial clerk.  We have two secretaries.  At this moment there is absolutely no indication that the clerks and assistant principals are to be cut…

Donna Gardner: My source went on to say that this particular school district has numerous satellite offices full of clerical staffs who do the work that the area Executive Director is supposed to do;  those buildings are not scheduled to close nor consolidate.

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Sent to Donna Garner on 2.4.11:

I’d also like to see us cut out tax wasters like the Harris County Department of Education and the Regional Service Centers. I also taught for 30 years and found that I learned more when we had teacher round table discussion/sharing events and local teachers heading workshops than I ever learned from the so-called “specialists” who came from these service centers. In my opinion, they are just a way for the feds to funnel in their control.

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From a friend who was on a Texas school board for many years: 

I agree with most of your ideas of where the waste is.  But a major problem that no one discusses is:  School districts every year have about 10% of payroll left over at the end of the year.  This is from people that quit, or retire, or are never put in a position to begin with.  It is called “payroll slippage.” 

At XXXXX,  this was somewhere in excess of $5 million a year.  School districts are usually not allowed to budget for this, and so this money goes into one-time costs, instead of ongoing student education.  So everything seems to be cut to the bone, and there is this huge sum of money left over to spend on onetime costs (like construction that is not needed, or administrative splurges, etc.)

If schools could budget at least a part of this every year, on the average, it would be available at the end of the year, especially, if districts do not increase spending during the budget year (which we never did when I was with XXXX).  Then more could be spent on ongoing expenses that need the money, and less on one-time splurges that we clearly do not need in the first place.

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Yesterday (2.8.11) this note was sent to me from a classroom teacher in Texas whose  district administrators had brought in outside speakers to conduct teacher in-service training: 

I finally figured out how much Aric Bostick cost the school district this last time: $4,500.00

He’s been here twice =$9,000 total.

Based on everything else I’ve found, around $4,000.00 is the going rate for speakers to come to our district.  We had 4 different guest speakers during our week-long staff training in August. That would be about $16,500 + Aric Bostick in February = $20,500 per school year. 

If every school district in Texas (1,237 districts) spent that much per year on guest speakers, that would equal $25,358,500.

Donna Gardner: The sad thing is that if you ask successful, experienced classroom teachers in our state how much they have learned from these high-priced speakers (consultants) and how many of the speakers’ ideas were practical enough to implement successfully into classrooms, I believe you will find that 9 out of 10 will tell you the speakers were a total waste of time.  If you do not believe me, please start asking every teacher you meet how he feels about the educational value of in-service training.  ===========================

Posted on ProtectOurClassrooms.com website — from Michael Q. Sullivan, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility:

Texas classrooms are under assault… from school administrators. Facing wise and necessary budget cuts, administrators are threatening to fire teachers, claiming the legislature is making them do it – when administrative bloat is the real problem. In fact, there is plenty of money flowing into Texas schools… it’s just that too much is spent outside the classroom.

Teachers are being told their jobs will be lost if the legislature makes cuts in education. Never mind that school administrators make many times more what classroom teachers do. Likewise, there are many positions outside the classroom that should be cut first. Currently, there is a 1:1 ratio between teachers and non-teachers on the education payroll.

While California has 1.6 million more public school students than Texas, they have 52,000 fewer public school employees!

The Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute finds that in the 1970s there were five teachers for every two non-teachers. Today, Texas is at a 1:1 ratio! Just taking Texas to a 3:2 ratio would save $3.25 billion!

Lavish pay packages, perks and bonus are standard for central administrators. The Austin Independent School District — currently threatening to fire hundreds of teachers — recently gave it’s superintendent ($275,000 salary) up to $25,000 in bonuses. Meanwhile, teachers make less than $50,000.

When making difficult, yet necessary cuts to education spending, it’s irresponsible and insulting to teachers and taxpayers for administrators to suggest that in-classroom spending be the first to go.

Cuts need to be made in public education…but not in the classroom!

Please sign the petition at ProtectOurClassrooms.com if you believe Texas has enough money to support quality schools WHEN school board members and administrators spend the money wisely.

A project of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility,  P.O. Box 200248 Austin, TX 78720.

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Posted on March 2, 2011, in Education, MUST READ. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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