By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… The Clark County School District claims that they are $34.1 million dollars short on General Operating Funds. The rumor is that the Superintendent’s and Trustees’ answer to this is to propose to cut a teacher from each school.
This rumor got me to wondering about where this shortfall is in the new budget. If one compares the General Operating Budget for 2016-2017 with the new “final” General Operating Budget for 2017-2018 one finds that there is, in actuality, an increase of almost $200 million!
The 2017 General Operating Budget was $2.5 billion and the district serviced 310,222 students. This totals out to $8,358 per student. If you take the total budget of $5,237,796,765 and put it on a per student basis, the per student amount would be $16,884. But the district does not ever want to speak of any funding other than the General Operating Budget. For the 2017-2018 General Operating Budget the per student funding is $8,672. This is an increase of $314 per student. This basically accounts for the $200 million increase in General Fund Dollars.
Only in a government agency can one increase their income by $200 million and still declare a $34.1 million shortfall.
I find it interesting that the Central Office can only seem to find the $34.1 million by reducing the number of teachers available to the schools. There are approximately 18,000 certified personal (people with teaching certificates) in the school district. About 17,000 actually deal with students. The total work force of CCSD is right at 40,000 people. That means only 42% of the employees of the CCSD are actually in the classroom with students. One might think that a 1% shortfall could be made up out of the 48% of employees that do not deal directly with students.
At the end of last year, the position of Area Superintendent was renamed as the School Associate Superintendent. When that change took place, four of the Area Superintendents were not named School Associate Superintendents. These positions draw a salary of well over $100,000. These four men were not fired but they were moved somewhere in the mass of bureaucracy, undoubtedly at the same pay. It makes one wonder how many other bodies are buried in the Central Office.
One might think that out of the total budget of $4.7 billion, or if you want to limit it to the $2.7 billion dollars of the General Budget, one could find $34 million without attacking the teaching staff. This is only 1 percent of the total General Operating budget. There are over 20 departments in CCSD so if each was cut by one percent, the problem would be solved. But the District’s knee jerk reaction is to always cut the teaching staff.
I understand that parents lost their bid to get the District under control as the break up – reorganization – reform movement of the last two years was an abject failure. No changes were made to the arrogant top down management of the district but the time must come when parents rise up and say no more.
No one asked me but… Kind of in the same vein: did anyone else react to the news that the District went to the Philippines and hired 81 teachers? Did someone forget to tell the Human Resources people that the Philippines is no longer a friendly nation to the United States? They have kicked the American navy out of their ports and closed all American bases in the nation.
They did invite us back to help clean up a problem with a volcano a few years ago, but once that was done, the hostility returned.
The President of the Philippines has often given profanity laced rants against the United States. Apparently the plan to raid California school districts failed and the District HR department defaulted to the Philippines.
However, one must look at the motivation behind the move. Up until last year the District had been saving over $75 million by hiring permanent subs to teach students in the underperforming schools in the poverty areas of the inner cities. When a Legislative Committee called the District on this unfair practice, the District fired the HR department head; or more likely hid her somewhere else in the District.
The District made other attempts to solve the problem of teaching “at-risk” students. However, they have found that there are not enough “Teach for America” youngsters available to cover the needs of “at-risk” schools.
They have also found that, while they might hire first year teachers graduating from American colleges and place them in these schools, as soon as those young teachers established themselves, they transfer to less stressful teaching situations. The District hoped to solve the problem by bringing in foreign teachers on work visas.
Let no one kid you, these first-year teachers from the Philippines are not going to be teaching in the premier schools of CCSD. These teachers will be teaching ELL students in underperforming schools. They will be paid at the base salary. The teachers will be adapting to a new culture that they will not understand. They will be dealing with students, many who are learning resistant, who are most in need of good strong educators.
The best part for the District is that these teachers will be on a three-year work visa. The District has by contract made it impossible for a teacher to increase their salary in less than three years and then only with the approval of their local administrator. How many local administrators are going to improve a salary increase for the Filipino staff member? Besides, when it is time to consider an increase in salary for the Filipino staff member, the District will merely not renew their contract. No longer being employed, they will have to go home and the District can hire another set of teachers at the first-year salary. While this is financially beneficial to the District, one must wonder what it does for the students?
It has been reported that the District has made housing arrangements in an apartment complex that will allow for the foreign teachers to maintain a culture of their own. Does anyone remember the old pre-union days of company towns? All that seems to be lacking is a company store.
Thought of the week… “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden