Cornville Elementary School to close:
After 90+ minutes of public comment, the motion to close the school was read and seconded, and members of the board were allowed time for deliberation. Those members that took the opportunity to address the gathering echoed many of the sentiments expressed during the public comment period, with the caveat that they were going to vote for the best interest of all the students in the district. Link
Re cutting positions vs salary concessions: guess which makes better head lines to build support for increasing taxes in spite of things to "save jobs?"
I suggest every AMG'er look at their school department enrollment trends over the last 5 years or so, and then calculate $ per student for each budget year. I bet you find the increase a real surprise.
Update on the Portland School Budget Process
I don’t know if I posted the preliminary school budget info on this thread or another that I cannot find, but here is a recap of where we are right now on March 26, 2010. The School Committee is going to deliberate on the budget on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 and forward it onto the city council. Last Wednesday, they held a one hour public hearing on the budget that went on for three hours. 90% of the comment was on saving the middle school strings and orchestra program (including many middle school students). Several others talked about Ed Tech reductions, and some other stuff the finance committee had restored to the budget because “new money” had been found. Two people, myself and one other spoke about the tax burden issue.
The school budget currently in the pipeline shows an increased property tax burden of $800,000 (down from $1.6 million in the super's proposed). The decrease is because they have identified over $2 million in money (revenue, and un-designated expense side funds). The Finance Committee has added $1 million in new spending. Last night (March 25) the City Council Finance Committee Chair told the School Committee Finance Committee that they should expect to bring their budget in with no increase in the taxpayer burden. (Last year, the school side's taxpayer burden was a reduced by $1,018,250). The school committee has filled in most of the stuff people complain about (except middle school strings and orchestra which the school department says has "low participation rates"). Most of Wednesday's School Committee three hour public hearing was people asking for the program to be restored.
When it comes to the budget validation vote, I think they are going to need to worry about the "music booster" folks than they will need to work about the "taxpayer burden" contingent. I don't see them putting any more spending in the budget and they have $300,000 in a contingency funding they added last week and $248,000 in expected state funding not programmed. That would take the taxpayer burden down to $250,000. I could live with that number. (It is a rounding error in a $90 million school budget.)
Salary hikes to spur 21 school layoffs
SAD 35 superintendent explains reductions
By David Ramsey
March 27, 2010 2:00 AM
ELIOT, Maine — It's mainly salary increases that are driving the need to cut 21 school district positions for the coming budget years, said Jeff Bearden, School Administrative District 35 superintendent.
But Bearden added that many of the reductions would have occurred anyway, due to shrinking student enrollments.
"It's the cost of living increases ($664,000) for employees and the health insurance ($60,000) for employees," he said.
So student enrollment is decreasing meaning you need fewer teachers, but the super is blaming the staff reductions on cost of living increases and health insurance.
Teacher health insurance increase is the same across the state. It was 2% and that is not a significant factor in most school budget planning this cycle. It is being used as a red herring by some school managers.
The article says that there are about 195 teachers and 55 ed techs. The district has 2,429 students including 136 pre-Ks. That works out to 12.5 students per teacher.
Note also the teachers are getting a 7% increase because each of them will go up a step in pay along with the salary increase.
from the Augusta Insider
RSU 19 (Dixmont, Etna, Newport, Palmyra, and others) are short $1.8 million. One money saving solution is to close the Palmyra Consolidated School. The school serves 77 students K-4. The Palmyra school is in need of costly repairs. Closing the school would save the district $400,000. "No one wants to close a school in their town; the school is a focal point in the community for many things and nobody wants to take that away," School Board Chairman Dan Costain, of Plymouth said. "I wish there were another way around it." The school board, which would need a two-thirds vote to close the school, will decide the issue April 1st.
The Portland School Committee voted Wednesday night to recommend to the city council a budget of $90,047,834, which is $1,289,209 less that their current budget. (They claim that the $2.7 million in curtailment cuts were not sustainable cuts and thus the original approved budget should be the baseline for their current budget.) The bottom line is that this budget results in additional taxpayer burden of $797,401. As I noted in the post on March 26 above, the City Council Finance Committee advised the School Committee to come in at a zero tax burden increase. The committee tonight thumbed their noses that the CCFC.
Since the Superintendent introduced his budget on March 3rd, $2.42 million additional resources have been found/received.
$1,348,000 additional state funding announced on March 3
$248,000 additional state funding announced on March 24 (?)
$224,000 unallocated funds in the Super’s proposed budget
$600,000 Fund Balance replenishment that should not have been in the super’s original budget
The Super’s proposed budget had a taxpayer burden of $1,666,000. They found $2,422,000 in funding yet they were only able to bring the budget to the of $797,401 chasm. Over the last month the school committee has allocated an additional $1,624,000 in taxpayer money, $247,000 of it today alone.
After the meeting I heard a delusional school committee member (who suggested in defending his vote on the record that we send this number out should let the voters decide) say that they should thumb their noses at the council if they reject their budget number. This member is in first year and has not watched other budget processes.
I think they are going to have a very hard time getting this past the city council. They put the music back into the budget so those folks are not going to come out and oppose the budget at the polls.
Portland Press Herald
April 1, 2010
City school budget gets committee's approval
KELLEY BOUCHARD, Staff Writer
PORTLAND - The School Committee approved a $90 million budget for the coming year on Wednesday, . . .
The budget ignores a recommendation from the City Council's finance committee to pass a budget with no tax increase, said Councilor John Coyne, . . .
"I'm not sure there's support on the council for an increase this year, given the financial struggles that many people are having," Coyne said outside the meeting.
"Preserved...Family living and human sexuality teacher ($75,000).
The family living teacher would be maintained for one year, while the district develops a plan to incorporate sex education into the health education curriculum."
Thank goodness they're teaching the important stuff.
Racetracks may be cut from slots revenue
21% of revenues goes to fairs, horse industry
9/27/10 10:45 pm Updated: 9/28/10 06:35 am
By Kevin Miller
AUGUSTA, Maine — Some lawmakers are asking whether it is appropriate to continue subsidizing the horse industry with millions of dollars from Hollywood Slots in Bangor when education, social services and other programs are facing reduced funding.
Representatives of Maine’s horse industry ... urged state lawmakers not to meddle with the complex formula that has helped support racetracks, agricultural fairs and betting parlors.
Cue the bloody fights over every last gambling shekel - after all, "It's For the Children."
Library fires new children's librarian
By Doug Harlow firstname.lastname@example.org
SKOWHEGAN -- The new children's librarian at the Skowhegan Free Public Library has been fired.
... Mary Darden, moved to Skowhegan from New York City to accept the library position. She began work Dec. 1.
Her employment was terminated on Monday, library director Melissa Gaspar said.
"It just didn't work out," Gaspar said. "She was let go. That's all I really want to say on it. ..."
If you don't think that School Boards are not running amok, read this article about a School Board in Indiana. They gave the retiring Superintendent a $1,000,000 retirement package including a post-retirement consulting job at $1,352 per DAY. Almost the worst part...they didn't even know how much his package was going to be until the bills started to come in.
Please Bankrupt Us Now
Read carefully this document found on the MEA web site:
MEA Bargaining Goals
And tell me how many times you saw the words "for the children." Surf around the site, and you'll find all sorts of other interesting tidbits, including pay scales from around the state.
Maine Education Association
Statewide Bargaining Goals
Wages and Salaries:
1. All bargaining unit members should receive a real increase annually, i.e. a wage or salary increase at least equal to the annual increase in the cost-of-living, after accounting for any increased costs to the employee for maintenance of insurance benefits.
2. Negotiate salary and wage structures that eliminate “dead zones” (multi-year steps without a rate change) and reduce the number of years required to reach the maximum rate on each lane. (Suggested long term goal – no more than 10 steps by 2020.)
2.1 When the State mandates minimum salary or wage levels, associations should negotiate improved scales in which the salary or wage base amount equals or exceeds the mandated minimum amount without extending the length of time required to reach the maximum.
3. Maintain or increase the employer-paid share of employee and dependent health insurance premiums, without compromising the health coverage and benefits of the existing plan.
3.1 Associations should reject health insurance plans that reduce premium costs by shifting health care costs to consumers, such as high deductible health care plans, whether or not enticements such as health savings accounts or health reimbursement accounts are offered.
4. Negotiate the same health insurance benefits for all teachers and educational support professionals.
Hours and Working Conditions:
5. Eliminate or reject any provisions that result in two-tiered systems where some employees are limited to lower wages or salaries, benefits or working conditions.
6. Workload – All contracts should address workload.
6.1. Teachers’ unit contracts should deal with workload by language either regulating the amount of work to be performed or requiring additional compensation when the work exceeds specified standards. Aspects of workload that should be addressed in this manner include required duties or meetings outside the work day or work year; planning time; and performance of non-instructional duties.
6.2. Contracts for educational support professionals should deal with workload by specifying work schedules and the length of the work day, work week and work year; and requiring that employees be paid at their regular or overtime rate as appropriate for all hours that they actually work.
7. Eliminate or reject any provisions which result in the Association waiving or giving up its right to bargain about any mandatory subject of bargaining.
8. Negotiate grievance procedures that end in final and binding arbitration.
9. Negotiate just cause protection, to the extent that it is not legally prohibited, for any disciplinary action.
10. Negotiate reduction in force procedures based on objective criteria only, e.g. seniority, certification, authorization, licensure, etc., with no consideration to employee evaluations.
11. Negotiate current and accurate job descriptions that are maintained and reviewed annually and when changes in responsibilities take place.
Recommended by the MEA Statewide Bargaining Committee–March 6, 2010
I would love to see all negotiatons done in public. As it is now the taxpayers find out what's in the contract only after it's a done deal.
SAD 30, comprised of four towns northeast of Lincoln passed its school budget last night. There was no debate because the budget has DECREASED over last year. The public had plenty of time to review the budget and there was a grand total of one citizen present who was not employed by the district or a member of the school board. SAD 30 serves a huge area with tuition students from towns that no longer have schools.
Here is a "corruption' story for your perusal. My brother lives in the SAD 52 school district that is made up of Greene, Leeds and Turner municipalities. He told me that one of the Greene school buses is driven by a resident of Minot and each day he takes the bus home with him, three towns away. Not only is that a waste of fuel and considerable wear and tear on the vehicle but it means travel through the two cities of Lewiston and Auburn, at what I would consider considerable risk and hazardous traffic.
I ask my brother why he did not report this and he said he felt it would fall on deaf ears.
Well that became a challenge to me and I looked up the SAD 52 web site located the various members of the school board and sent an email to the one who lived closest to my brother, asking if he was aware of this waste of taxpayers hard-earned money. He replied he was not aware of it but would look into it. Several days later he emailed me back to say the bus was no longer being garaged in Minot.
No other explanation, no apology or comment as to what or where the bus is now garaged. These people are arrogant and perceive the taxpayers as the enemy, but we got them this time. As the Governor said there is corruption. There is no way that whoever is the bus coordinator did not know what was going on. Another tip of the iceberg no doubt!
Bridgton...189 yes...73 no
Casco...107 yes...62 no
Naples...137 yes...49 no
Sebago...73 yes...84 no
Budget Passes with...506 yes...268 no
I am running unopposed for school board in our town so I have been following this very closely and called all the towns to get their numbers when their was no press release. Big difference from last year when it was sent to the voters three times.
We were voting on a budget of $26,119,080 which is only a .8% increase over last year...so our school budget is going up by about $327,000
Our school district, RSU 21, saw their $35.9M budget passed with an extremely low turnout in all three member towns except one, Arundel.
The turnout was the lowest ever in Kennebunk, with about 6% of the voting pool casting ballots. The district cut positions and parts of programs to keep the budget "even," but at $36M, with a steadily declining enrollment and several half-empty schools, the damage has already been done. That amount represents 73.13% of our mil rate, and next year, the county is going up .21 cents on the mil rate, and the town is going up about 3.5%+ on their own budget, for salary/benefit increases.
So, another couple hundred dollars per year for the average homeowner, in addition to the increases from past years.
In addition, the school district is still seeking about $52M in new construction and renovations next year, including grandiose plans for artificial turf fields and a performing arts center.
Until and unless we can get school budget elections combined with the municipal elections, turnouts will continue to be low in most areas, with disastrous results for the average homeowner.
Gaffer -- good job on the bus situation. In addition, you would be wise to ask the school board how many district trucks go home at night with employees, particularly in the winter. We used to have that happening in our own district, with district trucks and gas used to plow employees' own driveways, as well as those of family and friends. After members of our taxpayers' group campaigned to have the practice stopped, policies were put in place forbidding it.
Thanks for the tip Naran. I did email the school board chair and wondered if such a practice was occurring in the other two towns. All I got was a thank you. Still more arrogance and condescension.
Our town put a stop to vehicles going home at night last year for employees of the town except for the Fire Chief, Police Chief, and Public Works Director. If these people are on vacation, then it goes to the second in command of their dept.
PM, well done to you, and best of luck on the school board. Your town is lucky to have you.
Gaffer, I would persevere with the issue of trucks and vehicles that go home with employees. If a school bus was being used for employee transport, it's likely that other district vehicles are being similarly used. You may wish to consider a couple letters to the editor, along with a written request to the board chair and superintendent (cc's to somea local reporters) for a copy of any relevant district policies. Rattle the cages until the inmates throw you some fruit. :)
Well the numbers have been crunched and released and tax bills have been sent out. Here is the break down for the Town of Bridgton.
Cumberland County...4% or 52 cents
Town of Bridgton...41% or $5.37
MSAD #61...55% or $7.21
This information passed on from Town Manager, Mitch Berkowitz who got it from the town assessing agent.
Winthrop considers cutting school sports from budget
Under one proposal, middle school athletics would be eliminated in favor of intramural programs.
Kennebec Journal Staff
WINTHROP -- ...snip
The Winthrop school system may be forced to resort to cutting from its athletic budget to make ends meet.
Twice this year, voters have rejected proposed school budgets.
Now the board is trying to discern whether that rejection means they should propose cuts to administration, teachers, athletics or in all areas as they look to trim the approximately $10 million budget.
Fiscal Chickens; please see, "Coming Home to Roost."
After decades of building too-large new schools, and spending too much for staff and administration in the face of declining enrollments, plus all the other program expansions, almost every school district is facing the same dilemma. There is no more money to spend on more budget increases.
it's time for more user fees, for anything not essential to graduation, according to the DOE rules. It's time for unions to accept less wage increases, pay more for their benefits, and for Maine to stop the custom building of overly-large, expensive new schools.
We need a set of four or five basic, standard plans that the state can offer to communities. Anything above and beyond that standard plan, the community pays for the costs.
We need to cut staff to match enrollments, and close facilities where needed. It's time to stop viewing the public school system as "nothing is ever too much."
...and if you have out grown the size of your school, meaning what it can handle for a student population. Stop getting variances from the state, stop waiting on the state to give you funds to build an addition or build a brand new school, and take one good hard look at what you need and don't need in the immediate future and do the expansion yourself. That is what our school district did, once it is done we will be adding in those classes that we took out as well as some new ones.