Thursday, October 7, 2010

Close schools, save teachers?

Expect to hear a new theme from Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board Chair Eric Davis at tonight's public forum on school shakeups: Closing schools will save teachers.

It's always been a bit tough to nail down the driving force behind this months-long student-assignment review. Sometimes academic reform seems to be foremost, sometimes cost, sometimes a desire to streamline or refocus the student assignment process. Sometimes everyone in the room seems to have a different idea.

In an interview yesterday, Davis said he plans to emphasize the prospect of budget cuts in 2011-12. Not only will millions in federal stimulus money disappear, he said, but the governor is warning school districts to prepare for a 5 percent to 15 percent cut. In CMS, that's $30 million to $90 million, which could mean another big round of teacher layoffs, Davis said.


He said he'd rather save money by closing half-filled buildings and merging schools. Superintendent Peter Gorman hasn't presented budget numbers for his proposed changes -- that's coming next week -- but rough estimates are that it costs about $500,000 a year to operate an elementary school, $700,000 for a middle school and $900,000 for a high school (that's not counting staff salaries).

"Every dollar we save in October helps us deal with the budget in April," Davis said. "Our intention is to preserve these teachers that we all value."

If Davis's mindset prevails with a board majority, folks hoping to change minds about Gorman's proposed plans could face a tough sell. Planners and board members have already said it's too late to launch new plans, so the best hope for people who don't like the current proposals will be to get the board to revise them slightly, delay them for further study or kill them entirely. Davis says he plans to warn people suggesting delay or defeat that "what you're saying is you'd rather lay off teachers."

But there are nine members voting on Nov. 9, and huge numbers of parents weighing in. We'll see how the next step plays out starting at 6 p.m. today at Hopewell High in Huntersville. Remember, each public forum will deal with a handful of proposals, rather than trying to plow through the whole list, which affects about 70 schools. Check the forum schedule to see which are up when; the most controversial one up today is the move to close Davidson IB Middle and relocate the IB magnet to Alexander Middle in Huntersville.

Update 11:45 a.m.:  I have just changed the link to the forum schedule to reflect an updated location. Tuesday's session will be at the Government Center, not at West Charlotte High as the previous flier said. The new link will take you to an outdated news release, but scroll past that to get to the current schedule.
Also, as a blog poster discovered, CMS misspelled the email address for comments, so if you cut-and-paste your email will bounce back. They're correcting it. Meantime, use comprehensivereview@cms.k12.nc.us

41 comments:

therestofthestory said...

The largest money saver, other than removing illegals and resolving the fraud in the FRL lunch program, would be to stop the additional per pupil spending where CMS has not gotten the likewise academic improvement.

Sadly what CMS needs is a strong vocational trades program but the Ph.D.'s think that is below them to offer.

Anonymous said...

8:21 IS EXACTLY RIGHT.

Anonymous said...

And the closed schools need to be sold, not just mothballed......

Anonymous said...

I'm getting whiplash. First, CMS must have half a billion dollars to build new schools. Now CMS must close perfectly good, newly and expensively refurbished schools.

Shall I just mail my wallet to this group of careening, staggering drunks?

wiley said...

"Every dollar we save in October helps us deal with the budget in April," Davis said. "Our intention is to preserve these teachers that we all value."

I think that statement and "high poverty schools don't have the best teachers" go head to head as the most overused excuses at CMS.

CMS is NOT interested in managing a budget by cutting unecessary expenses to "save teachers".

If they were, ALL extracurricular activities would be eliminated, INCLUDING sports and the Board would go after the USDA to allow them to fully audit the FRL program to weed out fraud.

So Mr. Davis? Your rhetoric falls flat to the ground the second after you speak it.

Toss in Board members who want their cake and it it too, you have the same inept system perpetuating itself as it has done for years and years.

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't get me started. We stopped one bond for school, approved another for, what, closer to $700 mil, I thought it was, and CMS was claiming it really needed $1.6 billion, and would shortly come back for more bond money. Fish on the board swimming in a "school" (pun intended) helped all this along. I have saved an audio clip of board member Tate expressing to the board how we have to give Gorman whatever money he, in his expert knowledge, says he needs, whether its $1.6 million or $1.6 billion--Tate kept confusing the amounts during his speech to support Gorman's money request...not knowing, not caring, what the actual amount was..... pathetic

Anonymous said...

Sneaky Pete needs another $200,000 plushy bonus!

He's slit the throats of good teachers before in order to get it and he'll do it again.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the coaches and sport teams and use the money for academics.

Anonymous said...

i thought that i heard on the news yesterday that illegals cost the cms school system $90million a year! it we solve that issue we have plenty of funding even with the proposed cuts. the time has come to take back OUR country. illegals have no rights - citizens do!

Anonymous said...

I am saddened by the fact that it looks like the changes are already approved by the board and the forums are a waste of time. Why don't the citizens of this county have a say so in the school matters. Why even waste more time and money have the forums? Trying to avoid the issue facing the high poverty schools. Will those great teachers be willing to relocate to those schools. I doubt it but what do the board members care their children don't have to attend one of those schools. Make CMS fair to all students stop the non sense. By the way Board Members, you got voted in by the citizens of this county...It is not a permanent position.

Anonymous said...

five years ago , the school admins said ; " our kids are stupid . we need money. "

today , they are crying out ; " our kids are smart . we need money ."

the BS never ends .

Anonymous said...

We could not have to close any schools or lay off any of our teachers if we did not give not over 30 million dollars in aid to illegals in the county..

Anonymous said...

If is for me, MR.Gorman needs to go, he doesn't have to go home, but he can't stay in CMS, we need someone that cares about our children, many teachers have to go, they are not performing. At my job if I don't perform I get fired, and many of those teachers and Peter Gorman need to pack up their bags. Let's get a plan, not a short term, but a long term plan to get to where we need to go b4 is too late.

wiley said...

I got a "not deliverable" return on this link from the CMS site:

comprehensiverewiew@cms.k12.nc.us

Go figure.

So to any board members reading this, here is what I sent.

Comments from Ann Helms' blog today in the Observer:

"Every dollar we save in October helps us deal with the budget in April," Davis said. "Our intention is to preserve these teachers that we all value."

Davis says he plans to warn people suggesting delay or defeat that "what you're saying is you'd rather lay off teachers."

If you people are serious about wanting to save teachers, the being "a little bit pregnant" argument doesn't wash anymore. I've had two Board members express to me that they want to keep magnets and sports programs, but if you're serious about keeping teachers and academics intact, then get serious about cutting sports/extracurricular activities and also eliminated the fraud permeating the FRL program.

I've said it 100 times and will keep repeating it, that using inaccurate FRL numbers to justify students getting free sports, free AP/IB tests and other programs is a slap in the face to the rest of us (a small minority) you force to pay for those very things.

Today, there are no sacred cows in education. Make the hard decisions. Close schools. Now that you're enlarging home school boundaries, make parents in the neighborhood zones use transportation drop points just like manget parents were forced to do. Eliminate extracurricular activities if you have to and get it right NOW!, because for the past 40 years, you've been getting it terribly wrong.

http://obsyourschools.blogspot.com/2010/10/close-schools-save-teachers.html

Anonymous said...

As usual the commentary does not address the issue at hand. Slamming the illegal alien children of this county does nothing. The Supreme Court has already ruled on their rights to an education. This not the fight to fight.

The fight to fight is with our Board of Education. They tell their staff to make recommendations then refuse to follow through with the ones affecting the la ti da schools in the south and the traditionals. In the mean time they are willing to let the schools with less cache to blow in the wind.

How typical of this Board to not have a backbone when it counts. These are the people we continue vote in so that they can continue to do nothing for us.

Karen said...

I think this is crazy. If you close some schools teachers will lose their jobs anyway because of rooms. Are they going to have a bunch of teachers in the room or build on to the school which will cost more anyway. You might see a bunch of trailors on the school lot now which will cost more. They are not thinking to much about this and gas prices plus global warming. Also not to mention other things...One of many websites http://www.soschools.org/

Anonymous said...

I agree with wiley. We all have to make some hard decisions and make sacrifices. We cannot continue to keep schools open because one set of parents doesn't like it. That just perpetuates the next set of parents. It is what it is in these times. The majority of our teachers work way too hard as it is. Putting in way too many hours. Teaching children who are getting harder and harder to teach. Yet, we expect the teachers to perform miracles and we expect those students to know it all so we can recoup money from test scores. And that money is not going to be there much longer. Yet many of those students are more worried about if they will have dinner that night, or where they will sleep. How do we expect them to pass a test and for that teacher to teach them what they need. Get rid of the fat. Look at busing, look at administrative staff. CMS has secretaries making $55,000 a year. Wish I made that. Till we make basic education the priority nothing will change. Close the schools that are not full. Take the fancy programs away. Those are just an excuse to get kids in to a different building. Teach our children in the building they can get to the easiest and the least expensive. Cutting sports isn't the answer, some of those kids need sports to get through the day. Make a teacher feel they are doing the most important job in the world. There are so many of them that do. I am not saying there aren't plenty who should be out of the classroom. That happens in every work environment. But spend a day with some of our teachers. See if you want to do it for a living.

Larry said...

We tried to warn you a few years ago.

We begged you to get the schools divided into smaller more manageable and streamlined operations focused on the needs of the community they served.

But the Chamber, Elected Officials, Observer and Foundation for the Carolinas did all they could to stop it with the help of the big businesses and the Center City. Now here we are in really dire straights.

Deconsolidate now.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Wiley, I cut-and-pasted your e-mail address comprehensiverewiew@cms.k12.nc.us and it also bounced back. Then I realized you'd misspelled "review" and typed in the correct address. Just change the first w to a v and your e-mail should go through.

Ann Doss Helms said...

9:16 a.m., Gorman has never gotten a bonus anywhere close to $200,000. If I'm reading our clips right, his last bonus was $18,200, in 2008. This year and last year he declined performance bonuses (he's eligible for up to 10 percent of his base salary) because of the recession.

However, The Hechinger Report just noted that performance pay -- that is, bonuses -- are a big trend among superintendents (http://bit.ly/b9iAR5), and Gorman has long said he expects to lead off the district's quest for performance-based pay. So I'd expect to see bonuses return soon.

Anonymous said...

Waddell was built because everybody bitched for a new high school on the southwest side because of the new ones being built for mostly newcomers who never had paid taxes in the south.
The school is still new for petes sake.
This is insanity. Why not reassign half of South Meck to Waddell and keep it open? No brainer.

wiley said...

Ann, I backspaced over the link on the CMS page and pasted that into my address bar.

here it is from my email:

comprehensiverewiew@cms.k12.nc.us

I see the error and thank you for pointing it out, but the error is on the CMS page.

Look at their lin*k, bottom right corner.

http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/boe/ComprehensiveReview/Pages/CommunityForums.aspx

wiley said...

Anonymous said...
Waddell was built because everybody bitched for a new high school on the southwest side because of the new ones being built for mostly newcomers who never had paid taxes in the south.
The school is still new for petes sake.
This is insanity. Why not reassign half of South Meck to Waddell and keep it open? No brainer.


Waddell was built in 2001 and has a facility condition rating of 47, yet West Meck was built in 1951 and has a rating of 85.

Have the students completely trashed Waddell in the past 9 years? If not, as usual, CMS doesn't have their facts straight.

Anonymous said...

Waddell was built where it was for political reasons. Ask Arthur Griffin.According to the bond package, this was for a southern high school to releive overcrowding at South Meck and Providence (which did help when Ardrey Kell was eventually built). Griffin wanted the "southern" high school over the other side of I-77 and Nations Ford, which didn't really have a population center to full the school. Students were assigned from Olympic and South Meck, and Pineville put up a very good fight to not be reassigned. The bond money then should have built a true southern high school, but Griffin won.It does make sense to reassign the students, but not to full capacity schools. it will make a great K-12 language immersion. Parents are already making the commitment to Smith Academy on this side of South Blvd. But how many Language Immersion parents will continue with the program through high school? Waddell is a pink elephant then and now due to location location location.

Anonymous said...

I think the bonus that Anon was referring to was actually a gift of $250,000 from C.D. Spangler. Not sure how I feel about a public official accepting personal gifts, especially in the quarter million dollar range. Just another thing that CMS keeps quiet about. I have lost faith in this Superintendent, this Board, and the community that keeps watching what was once a great school system deteriorate into something very sad.

Live said...

The first post was right on the money. Don't expect that since the director of CTE, Jimmy Chancey is turning Career and Technical Education into college prep. courses.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY, THE RIGHT STATEMENT.

In North Carolina public school districts have to operate within a balanced budget. The counties are required to balance the budget. The state is constitutionally bound to the same.

It should be either cut spending or raise taxes. But some on the school board have this idea that some things are so precious that once lost forever lost. Give it up folks.

Just pretend you're in a sinking ship and all those cute programs are the tons of sea water about to drown you.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville

Anonymous said...

I hate to hear all the "cut the sports!" comments. Sports teams helps kids feel engaged with school, their friends and teachers, which can help keep them out of trouble and make their graduating more likely. Additionally - kids need to be getting exercise.

What really needs to happen is that we quit spending money on administrators and tests, etc. Teachers need to be able to stop teaching to the kids and focus on being creative and giving more chance at actual learning.

Vocational options is a MUST!

Really...I think there is plenty of money - it's just being wasted on a few people who sit at the top of the system doing pointless studies, etc.

Illegals may not be citizens but they are people who have rights. Besides...not to educate them means they become a throw-away subculture that gets more disenfranchised, more angry...unless you seek a higher crime rate - cause that's what we'd have.

Anonymous said...

I meant they should be able to stop teaching to the TEST, not the kids! lol

wiley said...

Anonymous said...
I hate to hear all the "cut the sports!" comments. Sports teams helps kids feel engaged with school, their friends and teachers, which can help keep them out of trouble and make their graduating more likely. Additionally - kids need to be getting exercise.


Out of trouble? Do you read the Observer? How many players, just from Butler have been brought up on charges this year?

The Duke Lacrosse team, a new one, is back in the news again. Read the front page.

Engaged with their school? Kids go to school to get an education and sports are extracurricular activities. Put them in little league if you want them to learn teamwork and get exercise, that way, YOU have to pay for it and not just 40% of the people.

Since CMS is going to have to cut between $25 million and $54 million, depending on what the number of the day is, where do you propose to come up with the funds, since you want to continue to subsidize illegals as well?

wiley said...

If you really want to be outraged over waste in public schools, particularly at CMS, read the article listed below from 2008 about fraud in the FRL program.

We wouldn't need to fire teachers or force some parents to pay for sports or their kid's AP/IB tests while 60%+ get theirs for free.

There IS a Free Lunch — In Schools
Review shows many parents misstate income on school lunch forms

By David N. Bass
July 21, 2008

RALEIGH — Many families in North Carolina lie about their income when applying for the free and reduced-lunch program in public schools, and a lack of oversight by government officials allows the fraud to go unchecked, an investigation by Carolina Journal shows.


http://www.carolinajournal.com/exclusives/display_exclusive.html?id=4881

Anonymous said...

I believe that the school system in this country should be revamped. Currently we have all of the children on the same track and this is not realistic. Some will go on to college, but not all. We need mechanics, electricians, plumbers, etc. but currently there is no consideration for these career tracks. These kids scrape through school not paying attention because they are not interested in going to college. These are honorable professions! While jobs are being sent overseas, these jobs will always remain here. Aptitude testing should be done in elementary school, and then again say around early middle school to determine whether or not kids are taking classes that appeal to them and actually apply to their life plan. The testing would allow them to switch paths as applicable. Teach them the basic skills in life they will need such as how to balance their household budget and checkbook. These are skills everyone can use!

Anonymous said...

The reason South Meck isn't closed in favor of Waddell is because no one in South's current attendance district would send their kids to Waddell. They'd just withdraw to private schools or leave the county altogether. Parents with kids reassigned to South from Waddell would jump for joy (as would the property values on their homes in neighborhoods like Madison Park and Montclaire.)

Waddell is in a crappy part of town.

Get it?

Anonymous said...

"The Hechinger Report just noted that performance pay -- that is, bonuses -- are a big trend among superintendents (http://bit.ly/b9iAR5), and Gorman has long said he expects to lead off the district's quest for performance-based pay."

Ann, I've heard that Gorman doesn't want teachers to have their value added scores--where they rank teachers for pay for performance. Unbelievable!! Some teachers don't even know they exist.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how the IB change from Myers Park to East has worked out? Did most students make the change or did they go back to their home schools? What are IB numbers at East this year as compared to last?

Carrie said...

I need someone to explain the difference between capital funds and operating funds to me. At tonight's Torrence Creek breakout, Mr. Davis came in and said (basically) that he'd rather pay teachers than build a new school (Stumptown Elementary) and further, that even if the $50M in bonds is sold next year it doesn't mean Stumptown will be built. It was my understanding that the budget cuts CMS faces are cuts to their operating budget...not capital because it's funded differently . What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

So now he's trying to turn teachers against students and parents, a ploy long used to obscure the fact that they are sticking the shaft into all of us little people. There will be no layoffs because when you close the school, teachers are automatically let go. Salaries wiped out. Bring back less experienced teachers with lower pay and keep your favored older ones to train the newbies. Money saved and you won't have the stigma of lying that you are getting rid of teachers because of the budget crunch. You are getting rid of them to free up the money to save magnets and pay for all those tests you are giving to provide data for pay for performance. We need an investigation as to how monies were shifted in the budget to Pete's initiatives and we ended up with a $10 million increase when Pete said he was saving *0 %.of the stimulus funds. Follow the money...could it be that federal funds are not being used for their intended purpose? Follow the money!

Anonymous said...

That entire process at Hopewell was a farce intended to give you the illusion of having some input about decisions that have been presented as the only option. That's why the rush! We're getting close to exposing Pete's shenanigans. He has to have a vote recorded before his deceptions are exposed. The budget shortfall is projected at $14.8 million for next year. Who are you trying to scare? Or maybe they are scared because teachers are beginning to ask questions and stop being afraid to speak out. Do not let them silence your voices again. Speak truth to power, that is the only way to effect change. We need an investigation! I'm need an audit of how federal funds are being used.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that's we need an audit of.....

Anonymous said...

Why is this coming as a shock to everyone?

We all knew 2 years ago that the educational stimulus package (referred to as Obama Bucks by former school board member Larry Gavreau) was going to fall off a cliff staring next year.

I sat in on a keynote speaker meeting at the Charlotte Convention Center during a national magnet school conference fair with a high powered D.C. attorney who plainly said this day would come. Did CMS representatives fall asleep (where they even there?) or did they simply chose to put their heads in the sand and convince our community to be in a 2 year state of denial hoping Washington, Superman or Underdog would save the day? So yeah, let's all get on the bandwagon and bash Dr. Gorman for creating this mess.

CMS did have plenty of time and energy to showcase our magnet schools to the nation. However, I think the powers that be may have missed some critical warnings. I'm still shaking my head that CMS higher ups didn't know acronym for STEM - a program our school system supposedly offers. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math NOT Math and Environmental Science. Does the magnet school office even know what specialized schools they operate? Dare I suggest we consider consolidating some magnet programs, eliminating a few and making parents foot additional transportation costs? (obviously not shutting out those who are truly poor). I had to hear some doctor whine recently about having to pay for 6 AP tests this year plus a sports fee - tough noogies.

Anonymous said...

With all this talk on Davidson IB can anyone give an up on the other schools. What are they thinking for the overcrowed Torrence Creek.