Here is a letter that an anonymous poster wrote to several local newspaper reporters and to me. It indicates that the frantic spending spree initiated by Fenty and Rhee is going to cause massive layoffs in DCPS, upsetting the education of many students, and disrupting the lives of many staff members. I don’t know if all of the details are accurate, but I recommend reading it:
Mr. Turque and Mr. Anderson:
I have now heard from three separate sources in central office regarding the delay in providing the individual school’s allocation budget amount and the associated budget guidance book. [[Info is from second and third parties and not directly, so please work you own sources.]]
There is not enough money to pay the teachers especially given their new salary scale. Since the entire salary amounts must come from the city budget process, no donations by education foundations can be used for this base amount. The EduGrants can only be used for the bonus side of the contract (IMPACTplus).
The situation has been characterized as “it’s a real mess” and “you wouldn’t believe how bad it is” and other similar comments.
The vaguest timelines have been mentioned such as “within the next two weeks” (as of Friday). And that there will be a “new process” different from last year for “budget preparation”. There is little or no clues as to what this means. However, for reference, the last five years an Excel spreadsheet was prepared for each school with the dollar allocation, the student population, Title I,II,III amounts and any other grant info, plus other stuff. Examples of the final versions of these can be found on the DCPS public website. Schools have been able to plug in amounts and teacher positions and have it automatically calculate the total. It then shows the amount over or under budget and which funding sources have been used. How it is to be “different” this year is a mystery. Milestone Dates and deadlines have already been moved three times.
Another telling event is the advance training and powerpoint presentation of the steps involved for excessing teachers. Administrators are being prepared in advance for what is apparently coming down the pike. It will be very similar the what was required during the recent RIF. Staff to be excessed will be determined by contributions to the school where 50% will be the scores on IMPACT. Seniority will only have about a 10% weight. Since many many people feel IMPACT is heavily flawed it’s likely to be very controversial as part of the excessing process with a 50% weight.
Given that all departments including DCPS were told to expect at least a 10% reduction in funding, this really isn’t new news. However, it does show how un-ready the DCPS central office was to face this eventuality. Especially given all the budgetary promises Ms. Rhee made (see earlier email) and the low likelihood that much of it was followed and the prevailing mindset that the Council wouldn’t dare reduce funding to education.
Where did the central office get the funding for the expansion of AS’s to 15? Where did the central office get the funding to expand the ME’s by 50% or so? Where did the central office get the funding to solicit contracts for more testing and other “priority” projects? Where is the austerity attitude in budgeting at the CO level.
Also remember that over the last three years the CO has been moving support and budget items out of the CO and transferring them to the local school. This gives them bragging rights for improving local support without really even doing anything. One of the most recent examples is no longer providing a central copy and mailing service without charging everything back to the local school. Another is having the CO email a PDF letter or flyer and telling the local school to make copies to send home with each child. There a balance in here somewhere, but the prevailing feeling is that the CO is reneging on providing sufficient support.
Also remember that K8 schools are very expensive since the 6th, 7th and 8th grades have to have individual subject teachers. To have a “robust” program, you have to have many subjects and teachers…..but the student count is small….so the local budget is equally smaller. It’s generally a dumb idea unless one can get the student population to support it.
The largest areas to save money is teacher headcount and closing under utilized and under enrolled schools. Neither of which is politically palatable! Each closed school can save between $3 million and $6 million depending of staff size and utility and physical plan costs.
If the “budget gap” is $90 million…..how many staff positions is that? How many under-enrolled schools is that? How many CO initiatives is that?
So…..who is going to step up to the plate and face this problem like a real leader?
(One gets the feeling that Michelle Rhee left just in time to miss out on this budget mess! And was also able to dodge the other messes that Ms. Henderson has been trying to clean up.)
However, it is our current leaders that have to address these issues! Of course, the DCPS situation is only part of the overall city budget gap, but it should receive a decent amount of media attention in it’s own right.
One also hears that Congress is going to reduce the amount of funding passed on to the city! That coupled with the Economic Stimulus funds (for eduction) running out …..one wonders how they will put this puzzle back together in a balanced way?
No News…..Is Bad News….in this situation. One can’t have a collaboration when there isn’t any discussion and only one side has any information!
One commenter (me) posted this at Bill Turque’s blog:
“I have been predicting all along that the money for these miraculous teacher raises would disappear not long after the ink dried on the contract. I am glad so many of the teachers had the guts to turn down these phony bonuses.
“Unlike opportunists and hucksters like Rhee, most teachers don’t go into the profession to make scads of money. Sure, we would like to be able to pay our rent or mortgage, eat real food, own a car, and occasionally take vacations, but getting rich isn’t what turns us on.
“Despite all of Michelle Rhee’s vitriolic rhetorical attacks on professional teachers, we do it year after year after year because we are sincerely interested in helping children.
“The last thing DCPS needs is yet another personnel upheaval, where every single teacher goes on the chopping block – or not – based on various whims of administrators. And students don’t need to have all of their classes re-arranged yet again because of the massive overspending caused by Rhee and Fenty (and continued under Henderson).
“Unfortunately, that upheaval appears to be precisely what the students and families and staff of DCPS are about to get.”