Monday, March 15 — 2010-11 School Budget Workshop

Budget Development Workshop
Monday, March 15
7:30 PM
Auditorium, Conestoga High School

Budget strategies for the 2010-11 school district have been discussed at the February and March Finance Committee meetings.  Those budget strategies are reflected in a draft budget which will be discussed in greater detail at the Budget Development Workshop tomorrow night. There will be slide presentation; click here for meeting’s agenda and a review of the slides.  There is much information included on the slides and I would encourage everyone to review.  One slide that caught my eye was the following:

Professional Staff (TEEA)
2009-2010
Teachers, Guidance, Media Specialists, Nurses

• Average years of service in T/E is 10.3 years (10.5 for 2008-09)
• 77% hold advanced degrees (74% for 2008-09)
• Average salary $74,581 ($69,788 for 2008-09)

How does the District intend to close the remaining gap in the 2010-11 budget?  We know that there will be a $2.9% tax increase and the suggested budget cuts total approximately $4 million.  There remains a $2.7 million gap . . . how will that deficit be funded?  floating a bond?  more programming cuts?

In the review of the Looking Ahead slide (pg. 26) we note that the 2011-12 school year budget indicates a deficit of $8.2 million (most of which is not attributed to PSERS increase). When the PSERS increase fully kicks-in for the 2012-13 school year, the deficit sky-rockets to $18.5 million! It continues to climb from that point — seriously, have a look at pg. 26, the numbers are staggering!

The draft budget includes budget strategies from the February and March Finance Committee meetings.  These strategies include:

• Contribution from Food/Nutrition Service Fund to General Fund
• Education Service Center Disposition
• Outsource Print Shop
• Restructure 7th and 8th Grade Program Delivery
• Eliminate Elementary FLES Program
• Restructure Middle School Special Area Classes
• Reduce Number of Regular Education Aides/Paraprofessionals
• Eliminate all Conestoga High School Classes with Fewer than 15 Students
• Eliminate Supervisor of Special Education Position
• Reduce Number of Extra Duty Responsibility Positions and Club Sport Contribution
• Reduce 2010-2011 Budget Requests to 2008-2009 Levels
• Issue Debt for Capital Expenditures/Long Lived Assets
• Explore Self-Insurance for District Medical Coverage
• Hire an E-Rate Consultant
• Reduce Information Technology Budget by 10%
• Reduce Use of IT Contracted Services by 20%

Although I previously provided the budget strategy information, I think it is important to re-post that link for your review.  These informational materials were used for the March 8 Finance Committee Meeting.  The consensus reached by the School Board and Administration was to tentatively use budget strategies #1-12, 14, 31, 39 and 40 for a savings of approximately 4$ million.   What budget strategies would you suggest to fund the remaining $2.7 million budget gap? 

Tomorrow’s Budget Workshop represents one of the few remaining opportunities to let your voice be heard in regards to the 2010-11 budget.  Whether you are a teacher, parent or taxpayer . . . do your homework by reviewing the materials and come to the meeting prepared.  Offer your opinion to the Administration and School Board; speaking up could make a difference in programming and jobs for next year.

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9 Comments

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  1. Thank you Pattye for providing this information. The escalating costs of PSERS are really going to create a need for ‘some out of the box’ thinking by all everyone! I looked at pg. 26 and you are right — the numbers are staggering!!!

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  2. John- Is that comment really fair? The School Board (3 Dem, 6 Rep) is looking into E-Rate because the consultant can show them how to leverage this program and save $10,000 on an ongoing basis. The consultant will cost $5000 but for one-time only. They explained this at a Finance meeting. Why exactly is it wrong for the School Board to find ways to save taxpayer money?

    And how does this decision by the School Board have anything to do with a GOP forum on big government? If the school board didn’t take advantage of the E-Rate consultant for political reasons (e.g. that the GOP is opposing government programs), that would be stupid. The School Board is supposed to save money. And, to be fair, the biggest problem our school district (and all school districts) has is unfunded government mandates and unbridled union power. The unions can command huge raises (over 4.5% per year) because the state permits teacher strikes, and boards in the past have been unwilling to take a strike because of the negative reaction from the community.

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  3. Pattye — Thank you for the update. I see that the Board continues to highlight teacher salaries (TEEA professional staff) and yet there is no highlight of the same group for the Administration folks on West Valley. Can those numbers also be presented as they may well indicate that the numbers are 2X the numbers highlighted.
    Prior posts have indicated that Admin and the teachers were a team… but in this scenario we see the coaches (admin) getting the big bucks and the players in the classrooms being criticized for there salaries.
    I am not taking sides here – but for a fair & balanced debate or analysis both sides of the equation needs to be presented. This should also include the details of the ACP (Administrative Compensation Plan) mentioned in Dr. Waters contract.
    I recognize that T/E is a fine district and that those that deliver the results should be rewarded.
    PSERS is a mess and if one looked at the issues you would see that the State legislature caused much of the underfunding in the early part of the 2000’s by not recognizing the need for the Districts to fund the program at reasonable rates – but rather to pay the piper in 2012. Well now we see the problem —
    Look I agree that the defined benefit plan is costly and further that retiring at 90 – 100% of last salary after 30 years of service is out of line. This should be reduced for all new hires. It is my understanding that the high retirement rates were an inducement to getting folks into teaching back when salaries were unattractive. I accept that premise – but as with many union provisions garnered years ago – this needs to be addressed going forward. But that is another discussion.
    The future is now — and we as residents need to be aware of the challenges in the near term – and transfer taxes are not going to solve the problem alone. So looking at ALL ways to increase the revenue stream – including unloading under used assets – must be under taken.

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  4. The Administration is not taking a raise this year. And they are continuing to cut positions.

    The defined benefit pension system is a mess, but only our state reps can fix it. Our teachers contracts are gold-plated. We cannot reduce staff for economic reasons. We cannot renegotiate raises. We cannot ask teachers to pay their health care. They have complete job security with excellent benefits, and they have a pension plan that is very generous.

    Picking on administrators is just a way to distract from the problems caused by teacher’s unions.

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    papadick58 Reply:

    Not picking on Administration – just suggesting that if one highlights teacher salaries when looking at the budget one should also highlight the salaries of the Administrative folks as well. When one administrator is = to 2 teachers is cost it becomes an area that – in my view – should be considered.

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  5. PPDick — thanks for the link — the PSERS website has a good powerpoint slideshow that does a great job of keeping on point and is comment free.
    As to your continuing to try to redirect people to look at the administation salaries — they are all public record. I don’t have the list this year, but last year they all made between $100K and $175K. They have cut two admins over the past 3 years — without replacing them — that means they do more work per person. And while you and your wife may find this difficult to accept — administrators are IN DEMAND and therefore are paid to STAY, not just to work. They are not part of a collectively bargained contract, so they can be paid what they are individually worth AND what the job is worth — not just what step they are on. The District can decide who does what job and who is valuable. Every teacher on Step 13, Masters Plus 45 in the first year of this contract made $81,820. If they acquired another 15 credits during the term of the contract, they would be on Masters plus 60 three years later and would be paid $106.200. Every teacher with that demographic — regardless of what subject, what level of expertise, how good they are — and whether or not the TESD values or wishes they would leave. I pick this section of the schedule because it’s where districts tend to draw administrators that don’t enter administration at the very start of their career.
    The door to administration is NOT that narrow. People step up and get the necessary certificates and sometimes do a “special assignment” while still in the bargaining unit. TESD has identified and groomed many of the administrators — because in doing searches elsewhere, the pickings often were very slim. The cost of hiring someone new, training them AND having them learn the culture of our community (scrutiny and high expectations) is not free — so developing our own star performers who want new challenges and don’t want to be paid the “average” salary for their education and seniority — has been very productive and has built an administrative staff of highly qualified teachers who help to develop curriculum, address testing requirements, run buildings, and more.
    SO — “not to pick on administration” — but the fact is that they are paid by the market — and they have a wage freeze for this budget year, and they have left two spots empty from attrition. Oh — and that teacher salary, as you know, doesn’t include “mentorship”, “workshop pay”, any extra duty responsibilities (coaching, clubs, newspaper, yearbook – which in some cases are part of the teacher day but are often additional compensation – and are difficult to fill at times because — presumably — money does not motivate people to work harder or more. That’s internal.).

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  6. Mr Petersen, just when I began to THINK about what you were saying, you go off on “GOP” stuff again.. Why do you consistently shoot yourself in the foot? Or is it foot in mouth.

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  7. Township Reader,
    As I have suggested to Grewell – My thoughts and comments are independent of any thoughts and comments of my wife. I am a taxpayer and a resident of this district and have many independent thoughts – many of which my wife and my children do not necessarily agree with.
    Your comments on the Administrative staff are spot on. I have questioned the compensation package of the Superintendent and quite frankly I find it to be excessive for any number of reasons stated earlier.
    My comments on the Admin group was intended to get all readers to get a complete picture when looking at salaries. If one is to highlight teacher salaries then one should also present the salary levels for administrative staff. I believe you estimates are fairly accurate – but I also would like to understand just what is included in the Administrators Compensation Plan (ACP) – referred to in Waters contract. For example – if the switch is made to self-insure health benefits will the admin folks go as well.
    Now, on the subject of teacher compensation and Union contracts – you may be shocked to hear that I do not agree with the current methodology to pay teachers in this country. while I understand and support the wonderful things that the Union has done over time – it is now time for the Union to recognize that parity has been reached and that changes are needed in compensation structure, health care contributions and retirement plan changes for ALL NEW HIRES. I also would welcome a longer school day as well as a longer school year. You can imagine how much of this goes over with my friends in the education arena.

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