By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… Can someone explain to me why there is so much opposition to educational reform in Clark County. When you are last in the nation, would it not seem logical that there would be a hue and cry for change.
The hue and cry is being heard by the State Legislature but it is falling on deaf ears at the Board of Trustees of CCSD. Actually, that is not correct, the Board of Trustees are more like the child who puts his fingers in his ears so he cannot hear.
CCSD Test scores are some of the lowest in the nation, 6,000 -7,000 seniors each year do not graduate, a majority of graduates are required to take remedial math and English courses when they go to college, and students who can are fleeing the comprehensive high schools in droves.
Since 2015 legislative session there has been an effort made at the State Legislature to correct these educational deficiencies within CCSD. For the most part, these efforts have been fought by the School Board of Trustees and the Central Office administrators who are apparently in denial.
The District’s refusal brings to mind a cancer patient who refuses the treatment than can save his life. One must wonder if the CCSD Board of Trustees will continue to refuse the medicine being offered until they die and the State places the District in a receivership.
What started as an attempt to break the 322,000-student school district into smaller more manageable units, ended in a defense of the status quo. All one has to do is follow the power flow chart to see that there has been no change in the structure of the CCSD. Under the old structure, the decision making started with the Superintendent. It then flowed down through a number of Associate Superintendents, through 16 School Area Superintendents over 16 Performance Zones, through the Principal, to the staff. Under the reorganization, the only change made was the name of the School Area Superintendent to the School Associate Superintendent. The decision making remains from the top down. The School Organizational Teams that were theoretically designed to bring decision making to the local level have no decision-making power, they are advisory bodies only.
The reform movement reminds one of the man who was found looking for a lost wallet under a street light. When asked where he lost his wallet, he said, “over there by that tree”. When asked why he wasn’t looking under the tree, he replied “the light is better here”. Why does CCSD continue to look for answers to their failures by maintaining the status quo? It is basically because they can see better operating under the status quo.
No one asked me but… It is time for CCSD officials to stop playing the poverty card. The issue is not a lack of funding. The FINAL 2017-18 budget presented to the State Department of Education has a total funding for the District of $4,762,732,199. If one divides that number by the number of students claimed in the budget document, the district is spending $14,816 per student. While there is an overall budget surplus, the Superintendent claims there is a $50-$60 million shortfall in the General/SPED portion of the budget. He is quick to point out that there are three sections to the budget: the General/SPED, Debt Service, and Other Funds (Building and sites, Capital projects, Federal Projects, Special Revenue, State Projects, Food service and internal service) to the CCSD budget and these cannot be co-mingled.
While the district claims that they are $50-$60 million dollars short in the General/Sped budget, they have failed to indicate why they are short. They list programs they want to fund, or have to fund, that total about $53,000,000. But those should have been included in their budget. One can easily see where they over projected the amount of DSA funding by $26 per student. At worst that would be an 8.3 million dollars shortfall. However, if the Superintendent’s count of over 322,000 students is correct, the shortfall is more likely between $3-$5 million
The DSA is only one of four major funding sources for the District including: Local School Support Tax (Lsst), property tax, and the Government Services Tax (GST). There are nine other lesser sources: private and government gifts and grants, franchise fees, sales assets, Federal Forest Reserve and Impact aid payments, Tuition payable from other school districts, Sumer school tuition, investment earnings, income from student activities, and donations. If one werer to assume that the General/SPED budget signed by the CFO and the CCSD Board of Trustees as the FINAL budget for 2017-18 school years was done correctly, all the funding and expenses were accounted for. Therefore, somewhere amongst these various funding sources, the District should be able to indicate where the $50-$60 million shortfall is to be found. If the problem were the District’s funding sources were over projected, that is on the financial department. If this $53 million worth of projects appeared after the final budget was submitted, that is on the various educational departments. In either case, the incompetency lands at the doorstep of the Superintendent. The Superintendent has indicated this is no time to point fingers. However, if you don’t pinpoint the cause of a problem, you will never solve it. If you only treat the symptoms, the disease with remain.
I am sure if anyone in the District were to read this column, which I find highly unlikely, they might challenge the numbers and the assumptions presented here. They would explain that I do not understand all the implications of the budget and this is probably true. However, it would be nice to know what funding source or sources came up short.
Thought of the week… “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”
Laurence J. Peter,
The Peter Principle