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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Committee lists cost-saving ideas

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

(Photo)
Community member Leo Southworth (left), School Board Member Ron Scherb and Clay Community School Assistant Supt. of Curriculum Kim Tucker discuss ideas for the corporation to save money Monday, during the second meeting of the Cost Cutting Committee. Kimberly Gleason Photo. [Order this photo]
The second meeting of the Cost Cutting Committee was a brainstorming session.

Clay Community School Corporation Supt. Dan Schroeder asked those in attendance to list cost cutting ideas that would also go along with the ideas submitted at the building level.

"Tonight, we are looking at ways to cut costs that do not include personnel or benefits," Schroeder said. "We want to start with ways to save money that would not affect classroom instruction first."

For 30 minutes, groups made up of administrators, community members and teachers discussed and brainstormed ideas that could potentially save the corporation money.

"Putting ads on the school homepages, baseball field or the gym" Clay City Jr./Sr. High School Principal Jeff Bell suggested. "Any high visibility place. You don't want to see it come to that, but let's face it, a Saturday night baseball game can fund your athletic department."

As groups continued to give their cost savings presentations, many of the same ideas continued to be mentioned such as:

* Changing the lighting to motion sensors in low traffic areas,

* Selling ad space on buses,

* Incentives for teachers to not take days off and reducing the money spent on substitutes,

* Using computers instead of textbooks,

* Charging a fee for students to use APEX,

* Eliminate unused equipment or furniture,

* Eliminate paper checks,

* Eliminate the shuttle bus,

* Eliminate colored paper,

* Pursue more grant more grants,

* More webinars or teleconferencing to eliminate driving to a conferences and having substitutes,

* Having a four-day work week for all students and staff,

* Pay to play for extra-curricular activities,

* Eliminate personal properties such as coffee pots,

* Consolidate non-instructional facilities, and

* Health Insurance options.

"One of the things we talked about was how Evansville schools did all of this a couple of years ago," Northview High School Principal Tim Rayle said. "Contact them to see what they have done and view their plan so we can see if there are things that we can do to adapt it to our needs."

The second question Schroeder proposed was should the corporation spend down their cash balance before making personnel cuts, and if so, how far should the cash balance go down. He also asked if the cash balance is spent, should the money in the Rainy Day Fund be used before personnel cuts are made.

"Our group believes we should spend down the general fund to 10 percent before making personnel cuts," Van Buren Elementary Principal Gail Williams said. "Then, if we need to, make more cuts then we should spend stimulus money first, leave teacher retirement alone."

Not all groups reached a consensus.

"We talked about spending down the cash balance but couldn't agree on an amount," Data and Food Service Director Carolyn Kumpf said.

The majority of the committee agreed, that keeping teachers in the classroom was the main goal.

The next meeting of the Cost Cutting Committee will be at 6 p.m., Nov. 1, in the Media Center at North Clay Middle School.


Comments
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Shifting all employees to state health insurance would save $400 million dollars statewide. How much would it save our corporation?? That and eliminating stipends for those who choose to get their health insurance under another family member's plan...Health insurance is a benefit, not a bonus that increases their salary. Seems that a cost cutting factor that both the union and the hiring of administrators have ignored.

I believe that this one item alone would help more than any other. sure would like to see the numbers on it....then hopefully arbitrary decisions won't be made and justified just due to this committee existing. Before each decision is made, those deciding must ask themselves honestly how it affects the student academically. Only those that affect them positively should be acted upon. too many in the past have cut costs but have also cut academics. Need to stop that practice now as we are already behind and not turning out bulk of graduates on equal playing field as those in other locations. Have a good day.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 8:46 AM

Incentive for teachers not to take days off? Are you serious? They get every holiday, Christmas vacation, spring break, fall break, the entire summer, etc..., and we have to give them an incentive to not take days off? Tell them to come work in the real world where you work 6 to 7 days a week without all of the days listed above off.

-- Posted by harleyrider on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 10:06 AM

harleyrider,

I am a teacher, although not in the Clay Comunity School District, and I take offence to your comments about all the time off teachers receive. Yes, I am not denying the fact that we get all the listed holidays. However, many teachers work beyond the typically scheduled day (as in my district, school starts at 7:30 and ends at 3:05, but my contract day starts at 7:10 and ends at 3:10). However, I am at school by 6:45 and leave around 3:30 or 4:00, which accounts for about a 9 hour day. I then come home and after all my home responsibilities are met work an additional 2-3 hours every evening. Total hours so far is eleven daily. However, there aren't many weekends that go by without 4-6 hours worth or work. Therefore, my total weekly hours is about 60. Multiply 60 hours per week times 36 school weeks, and you arrive at 2,160 total hours for the year. Divide 2160 by the typical workers 50 weeks per year (assuming they take 2 weeks off per year for vacation) and I work an average of 43.2 hours per week. By the way no overtime. I'm not complaining about the hours I work. I worked at a job were I made more money and worked less hours, but was miserable. I enjoy my job. I also understand that there are teachers, just like other professions, that "skate" by on just doing the bare minimum. But please keep in mind that there are dedicated teachers in every district across this country.

By the way, health insurance is the area the committee, union, and board should be focusing on. My district pays $2000 per month ($800 was my portion), for family coverage ($24000 per year). I got coverage (granted it wasn't the exact same coverage, but it works for my family) for $210 per month. Saved my district $24000 and me $7200 per year. Unions need to stop forcing districts to purchase Lamborgini (not even Cadillac) heath plans, and boards need to stop giving in on these demands.

-- Posted by Partrosie on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 11:38 AM

I'm glad that the comment about the Evansville Schools made the article. They have been doing some serious cost-cutting and re-thinking.

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation currently operates 36 educational facilities that served 22,568 students in the 09-10 school year. Total budget for the 2008 Fiscal Year was almost $225 million, meaning that per student expenses run close to ours at about $9950 per student.

On November 2, the voters in that corporation will be asked to pass an $8 million dollar General Fund Referendum for educational support. There is also a planned bond issue to cover a $39 Million dollar building project to build some new schools and reconfigure others for a net General Fund savings of $920,321 annually.

Total planned reductions to their General Fund total over $8 million dollars annually. That is only a 3.5% reduction, but it is a reduction. If they know something we don't, we need to find out about it.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 12:51 PM

Harleyrider, if there are sick days, personal days, etc., written into a contract, you cannot blame an employee for taking off the time you have given them, can you? I cannot. it would be like taking back a gift I've given someone.

Partrosie - the committee was limited in scope during the last session to non-personnel issues, with the insurance benefits, basically "out-of-bounds".

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 1:01 PM

Part one.

The committee went into this meeting with the Indiana State Board of Education's Citizens Checklist plus the suggestion that came out of building-level meetings held last school year. This meeting was nothing more than a re-hash of ideas that were already on paper with very few additional ideas brought out. It was limited mostly to ideas that do not affect personnel, such as insurance benefits. I did not view it as being very beneficial toward finding the solution to being able to cut costs while maintaining education or the support that education requires. This committee, just as the building-level committees and the State Board of Education, has no idea of what this corporation spends or where it goes except in the broadest sense. To effectively cut costs, this committee must be informed of how much is being spent and for what, look at alternative ways of accomplishing the same end result, then research the costs required to change if it is more cost-effective to do so and the cost-savings that will occur. Frankly, I do not see that this is going to happen for several reasons.

First of all, it is devilishly hard to get a clear concise answer out of the corporation. Ron Scherb asked for a listing of what projects had been accomplished with the CPF in the buildings not currently undergoing renovation and what were their costs. What he got was a report of every expenditure paid out of the CPF, by cost center, that is printed on almost a ream of paper and details every expenditure amount and to whom it was paid, but does not tell why the money was expended or how it relates to any specific project. That report sits on my coffee table as Ron has absolutely no use for it. It was an example of "data overload with no answer" which appears to be a tactic used to avoid answering questions.

Another tactic that appears to being used to stymie inquires is the fact that that report was printed instead of transmitted as digital data in a format that could be imported into productivity software such as a spreadsheet. Should a person want to take the time to type that data into a program that you can work with it using, a person might be able to glean something useful from it, but in its current form it is a waste of paper and ink that cost money. I expect the cost-cutting committee to get the same treatment if questions are asked.

The make-up of the committee itself may be an impediment to any effective cost-cutting. It is comprised of 60 people, broken down as follows: Corporate Administrators - 8, Building- Level Administrators -- 11, Non-certified staff appointed by building administrators -- 13, employees appointed and representing the CCCTA -- 15, and School Board members or appointed by school board members -- 13. This may well affect the free flow of information and inquires made by this committee as 76.66% of the committee may feel that they have reason to fear retribution from at least one superior for speaking freely. It is very difficult to allay that fear even if no retribution was guaranteed in writing, as it is still possible and it would be very hard to prove that a remark did not draw some type of retaliation at a later date.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 1:03 PM

Part two.

Along with the possible fear of retribution, the fact that the cost-cutting committee is comprised of a majority of people who are employees may affect the committee's effectiveness in finding ways to cut costs for another reason. While their knowledge, education, training, and familiarity with the issues that will arise in this committee could prove to be valuable assets, the very fact that they have been educated and trained in much the same manner and that they work within the system as it is now may limit their perspective. They look at these issues on a daily basis, they are generally doing things the best way that they know how, asking them how to improve their methods will yield little that is not known in most cases. This does not mean that they should not be there, because we have many people who do the same jobs but in different locations where knowledge from one location may improve operations at another or even in a different occupation. A mechanic can explain the use and benefit of using pre-packaged food in our cafeterias simply by comparing his choice to use an air-powered impact wrench to disassemble something instead of an open-ended wrench. The food will be served and the parts will be disassembled either way, the difference is in the time it takes to do it. An employee's time costs money, so if you can trade time for money and realize a savings you benefit from that trade-off. However, if you cannot step back from the system and the operation and look at it from that perspective it would seem that you are spending money for nothing. This is where our employees are in many cases, as people all over the world are, they are absolutely sure that they are doing things in the absolute best way given the circumstances.

The setting of the agenda for the committee is a limitation of the committee's activities. An agenda is a guideline that is helpful to keep on track, but the purpose of a committee is to debate an issue or issues to come to a consensus. Without debate, there is little point of having a meeting except to inform people of the decision that has already been made. If the cost-cutting committee is not going to build a list of recommendations by weighing the pros and cons of these ideas and reach by consensus recommendations based upon the knowledge and research of the members that is brought out in open and free debate, the list already compiled by the State Board of Education along with the building-level meetings and new suggestions that may come to light need only to be passed on to the School Board for debate and a decision at that level.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 1:09 PM

harleyrider: I am a teacher and know all about the "real world" of which you speak. You do realize the holidays, vacation days, and summers to which you refer are unpaid days, right? So, if teachers are not paid when they are off, what difference does it make? The suggestion of an incentive to encourage teachers to go to school instead of using a sick day or personal day is to save money that would be paid to a sub in the teacher's absence. Teachers, like employees in other occupations, are given so many "days" they can miss work for specified reasons without having pay deducted from their yearly earnings.

One thing I think nearly all teachers would agree to is being paid an hourly wage, like people in most other occupations (providing they were paid per hour of work, be it at home or at school). The unique fact about a teaching job is that teachers do not have a job that starts and ends when they report to their assigned building. I arrive at work shortly after 7:00 to do preparations for my students, work through the day, stopping for only a 30 minute lunch break on most days, then leave school seldom before 5:00. Once I am home, I spend approximately 2-3 hours on school work/requirements. Then, over the weekend, I am either planning, preparing, or evaluating student work/projects for at least 5-6 hours. So, let's see.....10 hours per day during the week at school, another 15 or so hours per week at home during the evenings, and an additional 6 hours or more over the weekend. The way I calculate it, that's about 71 hours per week minus daily lunch and occasional prep during the week. I invite you to come to my room any day of the week and see how the "real world" operates.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 1:36 PM

LOL....BigPappy....sounds like being in the service or an over-the-road truck driver. If you figure a military person's pay into a 40 hour week, it sounds real good. When you figure it into the 24/7, 365 days a year career that it is, you really realize that it is a "service" career.

When I was driving a truck, the limitation was 80 hours of driving time and on duty time in 8 days. However, many companies "desired" that you log as little duty time as possible and enough driving time to cover the miles you traveled without a noticable violation. Of course, you had to lod your sleep time, but then again, you didn't actually have to get that much sleep. I used to say that the trucking industry would make a liar out of a saint if he wanted to make enough to eat on. I hope it has changed with computers in the trucks.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 2:00 PM

Harleyrider:

Teachers for most part are 9 month employees. Many of those "days" off are without pay. I am daughter of a teacher and wife of one as well..."Homework" most nights extends into the hours after many others are asleep in bed. Don't let the length of the school day fool you.

Leo:

No part of cost cutting should be out of bounds IMHO. Especially when the healthcare is eating into so much of the budget due to union demands. The biggest error however was made at state level when the passed the legislation that made it impossible to have a teacher's union contract end until a new one is agreed upon by all parties....This allows for dragging of feet when it comes to participating fully in contract terms and is when some think that the techers are working without a contract. In Indiana this is just not true. The old contract remains in effect until new one is adopted. Me thinks that maybe we should petition people like Nancy Michaels and Jim Baird to try to get this changed so that contract can be allowed to lapse and people NOT get paid for a few weeks. Then of course a contract with a different health care company might be more appealing than no job at all.

Tenure means you are somewhat protected with regard to keeping your job within a school system, it does not mean that you are in position to bankrupt the corporation with demands that health insurance be guaranteed the same year after year while those in private sector and other state jobs all realize that that is now impossible. If we spend so much money on health insurance and then have not nearly enough to do adequate job academically, what good is it to continue?

Each year schools in US fall behind those in other countries...Even the ones up in Carmel which is one of the nations' best. How can our graduates compete if we aren't working at ways to increase academic exposure instead of cutting it? Even maintaining the status quo is no longer enough for our graduates.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 4:12 PM

As a Parent of 2 children in the school system this is distrubing to me. I have seen on here that one suggestion for a cut back is a Pay to Play for these kids. Okay think about this...If some of the children who want to play sports and have to pay, how many are actually going to be there if they can't? We are in a society that promotes healthy decisions and to be active-if they really want to participate in the sport but cannot pay what are they to do? I am working up a plan for our group of athletes that will not affect the school in anyway except for paying the coach and transportation to and from meets. It may even be able to pay for the transportation if I can get it all together properly. Our team is in desperate need of many things, so parents are fed up and are banning together to try to help them out.

Having these stupid Magazine fundraisers that are not helping anything. Most people don't want magazines and like I told my kids it is rude to put peoples names down on those cards without first ASKING that persons permission to be solicitated via mail. What happened to the times where the kids sold things that people actually can use and want? I remember that I sold gifts, wrapping paper, candy, food, etc. And people wanted it!!!

-- Posted by smoke20fan on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 5:16 PM

The paper didn't give Leo any comentary but Leo made up for it here several times over.....

-- Posted by jddriver4960 on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 5:51 PM

Ms. Moore,

Tenure doesn't is not job security. I have friends with 30+ years of teaching experience that have been RIFed. Tenure only guarantees before a district can fire you, they must give you due process.

-- Posted by Partrosie on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 8:49 PM

Teachers make more in 9 months than most of the people in "real world" make in 12. So the argument that most of their off days are not paid is really invalid. They probalby do put in extra time but grading papers, taking tickets, at ball games and /or coaching is not like the person who puts in 50-60-70 hours a week in other businesses. Not saying one is better than the other but some perspective is required. The real problem is, and you can see it in the comments above and the article, lines are being drawn that say "don't touch my area".

-- Posted by patriotgames on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 9:35 PM

The Health Insurance and stipend were "out-of-bounds" only for the particular meeting that the article is about. Personnel issues such as that and other fringe benefits are on the agenda for the next meeting.

Pay to Play is a suggestion that I have strong objections to. It is basically discrimination due to financial situation. I have to agree with smoke20fan, if we are going to raise funds for all of the students who participate, then raise funds for all of the students. If they all participate in the fund-raising, it builds teamwork. The Superintendant did comment that his daughter had "Pay to Play" where she went to school, but I think he makes a bit more than most of us.

Patriotgames -- when you say that teachers make more in nine months than most people, are you talking about people with the same level of education and on the job experience in their field? I do not think there are that many jobs that pay as low with the same level of education and experience, but I may be wrong.

I do agree with you on the lines that are forming. That is one problem that needs to be overcame. In the building-level suggestions it was very clear that a lot of people were thinking "Rob anyone but me!"

I am still wondering why we have been given suggestions from all of the buildings, yet the Departments didn't seem to contribute any for their own areas. They must be convinced they cannot improve.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 10:15 PM

In 2006, didn't the board offer administrators the stipend or insurance. Those people that took the stipend in theory saved the corporation money. If my understanding of this situation is correct, then if the stipends are removed, then it would cost the corporation an additional $48,000. What do you think we should do, cut a teacher to make up that money? It sounds to me like a 4 day school would be a great idea. We have gone to that in my company and saved a tremendous amount of money in utilites. Think about the savings of fuel, utilities, and other money that is spent on that extra day.

Harleyrider,

I know that people are throwing you under the bus about the fact that teachers take days off. I won't do that because you only see through a pinhole. Do you not think that teachers have children that may get sick? Do you not think that teachers themselves get sick? Do you not think that teachers work 7 days a week grading papers, writing lesson plans, grading tests, and trying to plan out how to deal with some challenging students? Nearly every other job in the country does not require you to take work home. What would you say if they only graded papers during their time at school? Wake up!!!!

-- Posted by Ron Archer on Wed, Oct 20, 2010, at 10:15 PM

Electriceye -- I'm not sure when the stipend went into effect. As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure if all of the administrators have been offered the same amount for the stipend. I have yet to be able to find out if we are offering insurance, to any employee, as an "employee's optional benefit" or as part of their compensation. With the paying of the stipend, it looks like it is considered compensation at least for some. It depends on the wording in the contracts. Many companies offer insurance plans that are optional benefits, the company doesn't pay for them unless the employee "opts in". This puts the decision on the employee, if they have other insurance from a spouse's employer that they feel meets their needs better they would not "opt-in".

I don't know what you know or have heard on who gets the stipend or how much they receive. I've heard that 7 administrators receive this, but I've heard amounts of $17,000 and $21,000. I bring this up because of your statement "If my understanding of this situation is correct, then if the stipends are removed, then it would cost the corporation an additional $48,000." I always thought that insurance was over-priced but if you are correct with the amount of $48,000 in additional costs, using the stipend amount of $17,000 and a personnel count of 7 would mean that insuring these people would cost $48,000 + ($17,000 x 7) or $167,000. Insurance definitely needs to be looked at, I'd say.

I thought you were on this committee, didn't you make the meeting? On the 4-day workweek, students must attend classes for 180 days in Indiana by law. It doesn't matter if you break it into 4-day weeks or leave it at 5, it is still 180 days of operation. There was a suggestion of having various departments go to a schedule of 4 ten-hour days or reducing hours of operation in the Central Office, but it was not discussed in depth. Actually, none of these suggestions have been discussed enough to know how much we are spending on current operations so it is very difficult to estimate any cost savings from changing.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 11:19 AM

As for pay to play...In times when one has to tighten their belt, they need to decide what can be eliminated and still get the job done. It is the job of the school to academically educate the student. so no matter what someone tries to tell you about keeping Johnny on the football team is the only way to keep him in school...It is not the coach's job to entice Johnny to stay in school. It's the parent's job to provide incentive and discipline to make sure that the child knows that they are expected to excel in school and the school's job to provide stimulating learning environment. If the only reason Johnny is staying in school is to play football, someone already hasn't done their job at home...so keeping sports when there isn't money to keep both sports and academics means that all the other students and parents who expect the school to fulfill their task are going to be let down.

History shows very clearly that VERY FEW excel in sports to the extent that they can further their career but many can benefit from quality education and academic scholarship. Except for a very few big ten schools, the academic scholarships are far higher than the athletic ones.

Even athletic training is better prepared for taking biology and anatomy classes and doing well in them than participating in a sport. Team work can be put into practice in a variety of course work, and the training of students' minds is far more important than training their bodies as their bodies will fail them by the time they are 30 or so and if they have not prepared themselves for a career that uses their minds or have not used their minds by being sufficiently challenged in school with strong academic programs, they will not be able to contribute to our society's infrastructure, much less to the food on their own table.

Not until this community realizes that while a nice past time, extracurricular sports and even band, seldom are part of the path to enough knowledge for financial and social security.

Yet like at a meal we are reluctant to give up the dessert when there is just not enough money for the main meal and dessert both.

It's like building on a new room to your house and not getting the leaky roof repaired so the rest of the house goes to pot....we've already put on all those extensions while the academics continues to leak out of the curriculum

Instead of measuring the success of our school by how it looks, we need to do it 4 year after graduation and find out what those former students are doing...That percentage will be a true measure of success or failure. We can't just site a few stellar graduates either...we must do an honest inventory of how many are financially secure and not a drain on our infrastructure.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 3:55 PM

Pay to play is no different than early bird was...It allowed those who had the means to get to school an extra class per day. I argued for years that this was unfair as it was not accessible to those who didn't have a car or a parent who was already at work due to early shift...or those who had to remain at home until the bus arrived as they were caring for a younger sibling.

With so many on here saying that pay for play is unfair to those who might not afford an extracurricular activity...where were you when these same children were being treated differently and did not have access to more academic classes?

We STILL have computer classes before school when only those with transportation can access them. We have learned that the minimum requirements for graduation are not competitive enough in today's workplace, but all you can get upset over is that a child may not have access to a sports team??

Priorities seem to be a bit backwards. MANY students are involved in extracurricular activities both in and out of school setting that are not sport affiliated. Success or failure are not determined by being on a sports team unless the parent and local society have a mindset that insists it is. If you start out by stressing importance of academics to your child AND you invest the time each day when they are young in making sure that they are successful with it day after day. Year after year. THEN that false carrot is not even needed to keep him in school. I dare say it is just an EASY button for the parents. If the parents and community didn't always use that easy button of sports as an excuse, more kids would be successful and more teachers would have time to teach more to their students..and the other ones in the class.

Those one room school houses so many around here speak so fondly of didn't have sports teams...It's the academics we must stress and not the buildings or the sports. Priorities are just wrong people. We are trying to save a few whose parents lost years ago holding that sport carrot up there as an afterthought and by doing so the rest of the students loose due to academic cutbacks that allow sports to continue.

My daughters have been in sports here and it's been nice but it has not bee necessary as there are plenty of other things they could be and have been involved with through the years. IF the sports weren't there, they would have filled their calendar with other activities and we would have had more involvement in 4H, scouts, and other local activities.

I'm not saying sports or band are bad...just that we need to hang on to the academics as extra icing on the cake is not worth trading academics away for.

Have a good day.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 6:56 PM

With all due respect, this committee is a waste of time if past Times articles are correct. Ok, wages and benefits are off the table. It is reported that 90-95% of the budget is wages and benefits. So the ideas the committee can come with are only 5-10% of the budget. Of that, there are electricity, heat, phones that have to be considered. The corp. is not going to eliminate those cost. Reduce yes, but enough to save an empoylee ????

-- Posted by seventyx7 on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 7:00 PM

seventyx7:

I have to agree 100%. Unless wages and benefits are looked at, little will be accomplished.

There is only one way to drastically reduce cost. Bring the health care benefits in line with current conditions as other state jobs and invest time to fully document and get rid of the 3-4%[just average taken across board.not specifically accurate at this location] dead wood teachers so the good ones have more other good ones to work alongside. That way they won't have to play catch up for information in courses and grades that preceded theirs. Our good teachers are not only battling social issues in the class room but having to to the bad teachers' job for them and still get their own material covered and understood by the student.

When we have students coming into the high school with 5-6th grade reading levels...someone isn't doing their job....I put a lot of the blame on the parents but know that there are some teachers at each grade level who really aren't pulling their weight either. There is no easy button in education.

I also wonder who is in charge of hiring some of these teachers...Why are we hiring teachers who can't even speak English? Others who can't even explain a math problem to their students and student has to go to homework hotline or their parent and then come back and explain it to the class and teacher STILL doesn't get it sometimes? Especially when they do their practicum in our schools and even the students recognize their terrible grammar. We have too much hiring of "nice" teachers when we need to focus on hiring good teachers. They aren't always the same thing....Maybe we need to look more carefully on what the teachers' grades were in their subject courses and not only their education ones???

Doesn't matter how well they know methodology if they don't know the subject material.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 7:36 PM

Leo,

I am on the committee, I just had something unexpected come up. The stipends were a one time only offer in 2006, if they turned them down, they didn't get them. The pricing of insurance is still somewhat complicated and I only have experience with my company in terms of insurance rates. My thought is that there are 7 administrators receiving the stipends, of course I have been wrong 1000's of times before. It would be interesting to have someone look into the savings of the 4-day school week in other corporations that have implemented such a program.

Jenny,

I would first have to disagree that athletics is a big part of keeping kids interested in school. They do have to make a certain grade to be eligible to play don't they. Not every child has the support for education that you show. What historical knowledge do you have to show what kids haven't excelled in sports. Due to my being a sports fan, I made some calls to some of the coaches. Do you know that we have had 12 kids in football, 14 in boys basketball, 3 in girls basketball, 10 in softball, 2 in boys soccer, 31 in track and cross country, and 62 in baseball get scholarships, 4 baseball players have gone on to play professionally. That is 134 kids that were given the opportunity to continue their education because of athletic achievements. That is all the proof that you need to see why sports are important to kids.

Then you want to say that the band does not help kids for the future. From the looks of things, I would say that they have learned discipline, teamwork, motivation, and many other traits that will carry them into college and their future. I don't know this for fact, but I would be willing to be that several band students have received scholarships as well. Besides don't both the sports programs and band program fundraise so that the corporation doesn't have to fund for everything, other than coaching, transportation, and officials.

The final thing that I would touch on for you would be the reading levels. These kids are coming to the schools with more important things to deal with than school. Drug or alcohol abusive families, wondering where the next meal will come from, wondering if they are going to get hit, drug or alcohol abuse themselves, self-mutilation, low abilities, poor support from home, and numerous other road blocks. I have always wondered if you are such an expert as to what is wrong with the schools, then why don't you go in and volunteer your expertise to the classes where these kids are. It is easy to sit in your Ivory Tower and cast stones on everything you want to. Go to where the real education lies, in the class rooms where you have all of these things, plus standards, plus hormones of teenagers, and plus parents such as yourself constantly hounding them if we can't compete with China and India. Early bird is still available, if the student needs it, I would be certain to say that they could get with their counselor or teacher to see about making arrangements.

-- Posted by Ron Archer on Fri, Oct 22, 2010, at 12:03 AM

Jenny, I must disagree with you, not in that setting up educational programs that are only are accessible to only the few that have means is wrong, but on establishing "pay-to-play" that may keep a few more students, who may well be in school for the wrong reason, from getting a high school diploma which may well be the determining factor in their future economic status. Even with our six-period schedule, it is possible to earn enough credits and take all required classes to graduate in less than eight semesters. Early bird classes make it easier for those who have the means to complete the requirements or those who put forth the extra effort to find a way to avail themselves of that opportunity. If ECA's are the only way to entice a student to stay in school until graduation, I do not wish that "pay-to-play" remove that "carrot" from in front of the students who need it the most.

I agree that we, as a society, have lost our priorities on education, but my observation is that our schools are not responsible for society; society is responsible for our schools. Only when society changes will our schools change and until that happens our schools and students have to deal with the world as it is.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Fri, Oct 22, 2010, at 12:03 PM

seventyx7 -- This committee can be a waste of time if it is allowed to be. Believe me when I tell you that I'm trying to prevent that from happening. Personally, I know that I have a finite number of hours in this life and do not plan to waste any of them on "make-work" when I can do something that affects the world and our community in a positive manner. The committee has the opportunity to look at our school corporation and bring to the School Board many ideas for improvement or it can meet endlessly and bring nothing new at all. Over 75% of the committee is employees who work within the system as it exists; however, with the knowledge of the system they also bring into the meetings their unique life experiences as well. If they open up their perspective and start looking at the school corporation for a perspective of something other than an employee trapped within it, this committee can and will be able to accomplish something. Personnel expenses do make up the overwhelming bulk of the General Fund expenditures, which make up the major part of the total school corporation budget. Educational personnel make up the bulk of our personnel. Budgeting being what it is, you ask for what you think you need plus some for things you know you didn't see coming then you spend what you are given, there isn't a lot left to invest in changes. I see reasons in that for this committee to research everything that this corporation does and where every dollar goes to see if it can come up with better ways of accomplishing what I see as the goal. You are probably tired of hearing it, but I see the goal as "Maximum education at minimum cost." I believe that this committee can take large strides in that direction to the Board for their decision, but not by sitting through meetings that do little but reaffirm that the system works the way the system works. I try to get people to look at it from other angles such as, if we had to start with nothing but the goal of educating students, how best can we accomplish that?

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Fri, Oct 22, 2010, at 12:05 PM

seventyx7 -- This committee can be a waste of time if it is allowed to be. Believe me when I tell you that I'm trying to prevent that from happening. Personally, I know that I have a finite number of hours in this life and do not plan to waste any of them on "make-work" when I can do something that affects the world and our community in a positive manner. The committee has the opportunity to look at our school corporation and bring to the School Board many ideas for improvement or it can meet endlessly and bring nothing new at all. Over 75% of the committee is employees who work within the system as it exists; however, with the knowledge of the system they also bring into the meetings their unique life experiences as well. If they open up their perspective and start looking at the school corporation for a perspective of something other than an employee trapped within it, this committee can and will be able to accomplish something. Personnel expenses do make up the overwhelming bulk of the General Fund expenditures, which make up the major part of the total school corporation budget. Educational personnel make up the bulk of our personnel. Budgeting being what it is, you ask for what you think you need plus some for things you know you didn't see coming then you spend what you are given, there isn't a lot left to invest in changes. I see reasons in that for this committee to research everything that this corporation does and where every dollar goes to see if it can come up with better ways of accomplishing what I see as the goal. You are probably tired of hearing it, but I see the goal as "Maximum education at minimum cost." I believe that this committee can take large strides in that direction to the Board for their decision, but not by sitting through meetings that do little but reaffirm that the system works the way the system works. I try to get people to look at it from other angles such as, if we had to start with nothing but the goal of educating students, how best can we accomplish that?

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Fri, Oct 22, 2010, at 12:05 PM

electriceye:

134 is a very low number if you would learn the number of students who get academic scholarships and add up the total amounts of the scholarships.

If you can, go back and ask what the dollar amounts were of those scholarships and I'll wager the total is not that much compared to the multitude of academic scholarships awarded...I am guessing you are quoting a total in past several years?? I'll wager that in any one year academic scholarships surpass that by dozens.

I personally know three of last year's graduates who combined received $53,000 per year for 4 years. Add that to the many more awarded to many other graduates last year for academic acheivement and that makes academics a far more valuable investment than athletics in our society. Yes the very few end up making their money via athletics but the "masses" make it on their academic investment.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Fri, Oct 22, 2010, at 12:18 PM

electriceye:

NEVER did I say that band doesn't help develop a student. We have an excellent band program here. BUT concert band will provide that left side right side brain effect just as well as marching band.

Being involved in marching band, like a sports team, can provide cameraderie and team work but I contend that team projects in other academic class settings can do the same if the schools take that same coach/mentor approach. Mr Medworth has convinced the kids in marching band that they can be #1...Why aren't we doing this in some of the other classrooms or in the guidance office or at home? Why do we invest so many hours into marching band and not into academics? Why do parents let their kids go to band all summer but then let them graduate a semester early so their brain "gets out of shape" before going on to college? Studying is like going to football practice. To do something well we need to invest time into it. Why do we give more importance to practicing on the field and not into studies at the kitchen table after school?

I'm not discrediting band...just saying we've got our priorities reversed when it comes to investing time and money into something that isn't going to give the graduates their bulk of return for their investment.

Each one of my kids was in band...though not in Marching band..[okay one daughter was put in as a sub midway through season due to someone dropping out for not keeping grades up or something]. I looked at the time and money commitment and felt that they would do better putting that time into other endeavors...I wanted them to be able to invest the time into rigorous courses and do well in them. They also wanted to be involved with other things and if in band, the other areas would have suffered. Yes our personal family choice but we are to the point where the school has to make some investment choices for a "family" of many children. Which cuts are going to benefit the most children in the long run?

Cutting band and athletic support will effect relatively few children compared to academic areas. Excelling in academics is what is going to get most of those kids jobs. Not sports and marching band awards. A lot to give up?? Yes for some but lesser loss than giving up more academics as has been with small discreet cuts year after year since about 2004 now. Look back into each hs course selection book. Ask about how many sections of various courses have been cut year after year. Then look at class sizes at the lower grades. All of this has been traded away already so athletic and marching band could be retained. It is not to say that those involved with these activities has done anything wrong....We just don't have the money to keep doing it.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Fri, Oct 22, 2010, at 12:37 PM

electriceye:

NEVER did I say that band doesn't help develop a student. We have an excellent band program here. BUT concert band will provide that left side right side brain effect just as well as marching band.

Being involved in marching band, like a sports team, can provide cameraderie and team work but I contend that team projects in other academic class settings can do the same if the schools take that same coach/mentor approach. Mr Medworth has convinced the kids in marching band that they can be #1...Why aren't we doing this in some of the other classrooms or in the guidance office or at home? Why do we invest so many hours into marching band and not into academics? Why do parents let their kids go to band all summer but then let them graduate a semester early so their brain "gets out of shape" before going on to college? Studying is like going to football practice. To do something well we need to invest time into it. Why do we give more importance to practicing on the field and not into studies at the kitchen table after school?

I'm not discrediting band...just saying we've got our priorities reversed when it comes to investing time and money into something that isn't going to give the graduates their bulk of return for their investment.

Each one of my kids was in band...though not in Marching band..[okay one daughter was put in as a sub midway through season due to someone dropping out for not keeping grades up or something]. I looked at the time and money commitment and felt that they would do better putting that time into other endeavors...I wanted them to be able to invest the time into rigorous courses and do well in them. They also wanted to be involved with other things and if in band, the other areas would have suffered. Yes our personal family choice but we are to the point where the school has to make some investment choices for a "family" of many children. Which cuts are going to benefit the most children in the long run?

Cutting band and athletic support will effect relatively few children compared to academic areas. Excelling in academics is what is going to get most of those kids jobs. Not sports and marching band awards. A lot to give up?? Yes for some but lesser loss than giving up more academics as has been with small discreet cuts year after year since about 2004 now. Look back into each hs course selection book. Ask about how many sections of various courses have been cut year after year. Then look at class sizes at the lower grades. All of this has been traded away already so athletic and marching band could be retained. It is not to say that those involved with these activities has done anything wrong....We just don't have the money to keep doing it.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Fri, Oct 22, 2010, at 12:38 PM

Jenny,

134 is a number that we cannot really place a juxtaposition of with academic scholarships. Having gone to the senior awards nights with my kids, I remember seeing about 10 kids get most of the scholarships. That 134 were perhaps kids whose families could not afford college and this was their opportunity. Dollar amounts are sometimes misleading, considering that perhaps many of these students received full pay tuitions. How many non-athletic kids received full rides? Aren't all of the kids receive athletic scholarships, also able to earn their living with the academic investments the colleges and universities made on them?

Now you want to cut band and athletics? I have read in the paper where the band has nearly 170 kids, and to guestimate the number of kids in athletics, I would say nearly 350 kids. The coaches and band directors are all motivators and stress the importance of education. The kids that I have talked with say that their coaches/band leaders make education priority one.

Mr. Medworth has definitely convinced the kids in the band that they are number 1. How can you say, without having witnessed it personally, that the classrooms, guidance people, and others aren't telling the kids they are number 1? The problem to me would be that the kids not in the band or sports, and who are not educationally motivated personally or at home, is that the work ethic in kids today is not strong at all.

If I remember some earlier postings, the classes that are cut are cut due to low enrollment numbers. If the numbers are not there, how can the board justify paying faculty for a class of 10 or less. You know for fact that other classes are cut for athletics and band?

-- Posted by Ron Archer on Fri, Oct 22, 2010, at 10:22 PM

Electriceye & Jenny Moore, you have both raised some good questions and brought out situations that should be checked to determine the facts such as comparing past course offerings against the current lists and the effects of scholarships on the continuing education of the student body. Your debate should have inspired the reader to look beyond what you have said here to find more information on which to base their opinion.

I'm going to interject one comment. All human experience is educational.

Getting back to the cost-cutting committee, this is what I see as needed during these meetings. We have sixty people who have all walked different paths and made myriad observations for a rough average of over twenty-five years each. While any additional suggestions of ways to cut costs may and should be brought out during these meetings, looking for consensus based upon opinion unsupported by facts or even confirmable observations within the members of the committee serves little purpose and brings out little substantive information for the School Board to base funding decisions upon.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sat, Oct 23, 2010, at 1:46 PM


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