One of our Community Matters readers, ‘Full of Questions’ sent in a comment which contained specific questions that we may be able to answer for him/her. As I often do, if there is a comment that I think needs frontpage attention, I post it here so that everyone sees it. Read through the questions and respond if you think you can help — please label your responses to match the numbered questions.
Full of Questions writes . . .
I have enjoyed reading the posts on this site. Unfortunately I still have so many questions that are unanswered and I have no idea where to get the answers. Maybe someone out there can help me to understand this whole situation better…
1. Why – when we are in a budget crisis – are we buying office space and renovating new buildings? How much have these new acquisitions cost us, the taxpayers, in the past two years? Has this contributed to the $9 mil we now need to find somewhere?
2. Someone mentioned that administrators get a stipend to pay for the healthcare plan of their choice. If an admin does not use this do they get to pocket this money? I am asking since I know of at least 3 administrators that have teachers that work in the district. Do they just get to get a free ride on their spouses plan and then still get to pocket their stipend? In essence we would be paying them twice for their healthplan.
3. Why have the number of administrators at the educational offices increased over the past 4 years? It appears that there used to be ~10 admin at the ESC but now there are ~15. Why do we need this additional staffing? It seems that as prinicpals have been promoted new positions have been created at the educational offices for them (ie. Donavan, Dinkins, Gusick)
4. Looking at the posted link for teacher salaries I can also see admin salaries. Building on the previous point – the admin salaries make up ~$3.5 mil of the budget. That number does not include whatever stipend they get for healthcare. That number does not include the money we are paying for them to go back to school and earn their doctorates. Again – why do we need to have this many admin each costing us well over ~100,000-$200,000/year?
5. What are these on-line classes they are talking about offering at the high school? I would have liked more information about this instead of reading about it in a blog… How much are these going to cost us? Or are they using it as a way to outsource teaching for a cheaper cost?
It has been several times that everything is out in the open – but I truly find that hard to believe when it seems something new pops up each time I read this blog or minutes to one of the committee or board meetings. If anyone can answer any of these questions I would really appreciate it. I am trying not to place blame, although it is hard not to given the circumstances. I just feel that I do not have all of the facts. Is the teachers union to blame for trying to get a good contract for their teachers? Is the board to blame for accepting a contract that they could not support financially given the other financial obligations (ie. new buildings, admin, etc.)? Are the administrators to blame for not giving the board all of the information they need to make an educated decision?