Monday, January 10, 2011

CMS defines key school budget terms

With CMS studying an array of cutbacks to plug a budget gap of as much as $100 million, many parents and civic leaders are paying close attention to the unfolding budget deliberations. The school board is slated to talk budget issues at its meeting tomorrow evening, weather permitting. CMS' recent release of per-pupil, per-school expenditures generated a lot of interest last week. The list included expenditures for "school activity fund," a term that has left a lot of readers scratching their heads. What, they asked, does that exactly include? Superintendent Peter Gorman late last week e-mailed school board members a document that explains that term, along with weighted student staffing and other budget items that figure to loom large during this spring's budget discussions.

Perhaps more importantly, the document Gorman gave the school board also provides an overview of the various factors that can influence per-pupil spending. Considering the intensity of the debates that always erupt surrounding questions of equity (and the fact that some of the poorest schools receive twice as much as some of the wealthier schools), those factors are worth studying. You can take a look here.

Eric Frazier


Anonymous said...

So WTF does it mean?

Anonymous said...

So after nearly nine years, CMS still counts Smith Language Academy as a middle school with a 1000 elementary students and reports it's K-9. The school is actually k-8 and 75% elementary. Trust CMS with data?

Pamela Grundy said...

It means that folks can't just look briefly at the chart (or at the schools that occupy the extremes) and draw sweeping conclusions that have any bearing on reality. CMS could indeed explain what's going on more clearly. But it just isn't that simple.

Anonymous said...

I agree that CMS does a pitiful job of explaining what is actually going on. Whether it's intentional or not is unclear, but the CMS bureaucrats are derelict in their duty to maintain the public's trust, either way.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's why so many teachers are wary of the bogus and unexplainable data trying to be passed by Accountability in the name of Pay for Performance. Incidentally, the 250k to Pete's discretionary fund and Broad Foundation Celebration slush fund or the Direct Line (employee e-mail) peddling for predatory lender Countrywide Mortgage could be explained but I haven't found that data as well. I guess that isn't simple either.

therestofthestory said...

I attribute this more to the elistist attitude these folks have. They look down on us like country bunkins and are irritated they have to address us. they put pidly data out there and then when challenged they "Oh that is not what it means at all." We need to clean house and CMS converted to an all charter school system. A small central office would just distribute $ by per pupil and lets get back to educating.

Kids don't work out. Let the parents decide what they want to do. They have their per puil dollars so they can choose what to do next.

Swinging the pendulum all the way the other way is the only way to save a good many of the Mecklenburg COunty kids.

therestofthestory said...

Thanks Eric but I had already seen these 2 weeks ago. The big question a lot of us had was about how the School Activity Fund operated in more detail than this comment. It is clear though some downtown folks are getting put off by all these questions. I have sent a number of questions to folks and have only gotten answers from 1 of 5.

cls2n2o said...

I've posted on another story about CMS and stated when numbers are pushed so hard there is usually deception behind them. Why can't I find a allocation and encumberment report anywhere. Not just these general reports how about a school by school report. Something that we can truly account for too the pencil.

Pamela Grundy said...

The pay for performance stuff is indeed inexplicable, and probably has little bearing on reality. Not to mention the loony idea that you can talk about test scores as a "return on investment." Numbers are powerful, but they're also limited, and too often people forget those limits.

Anonymous said...


Last month at the BOE meeting, Trent Merchant, CMS staffer Andy Baxter and Pete Gorman had an short impromptu discussion about Measuring Teacher Effectiveness and where it could go, where it is now and a few other words. This followed Mr. Baxter presentation. He is giving these to the board every two months.

It's pretty interesting in that it gives a view of Dr. Gorman's thinking on the subject.

Go to Click on ENTER. On the CONTENTS page it is the title "Video". This isn't a streaming site. Download and use your media player. About 6 minutes.

Also on the CONTENTS page is the most advanced and latest mathematically formula for Pay-for-Performance. It is under the title: "Teacher's Pay-for-Performance salary formula"

Bolyn McClung

Pamela Grundy said...

"Latest" perhaps. "Most advanced," I'm not so sure.

JAT said...

"School Activity Fund: The School Activity Fund includes revenues and expenditures for the
activities of the individual schools. The primary revenue sources include funds held on the behalf of various clubs and organizations, receipts from athletic events, and proceeds from various fund raising activities. The primary expenditures are for athletic teams, clubs (sic) programs, activity buses, and instructional needs."

Bzzzt. Fail.

Are any of these dollars tax dollars? Y/N

If Y what is their percentage of the total amount and source -- federal, state, or local?

If N -- Are any of the dollars raised centrally by CMS? Or are they all raised individually by the schools?

Do the athletic gate receipts include money destined for the NCHSAA and if so, why?

Is CMS saying that it centrally tracks every dollar raised and spent by every chess club or model rocketry club in the system? If so, why?

CMS defined nothing -- except its own unwillingness to deal honestly and openly with the public.

Anonymous said...

No one seems to be able to give a straight answer about the source of the activity funds. Are monies raised by PTAs included or not? And who determines what is reported by each school as activity fund dollars? Looking at the per pupil expenditure charts it sure looks like some schools are reporting PTA raised money and some are not--there is just too big of a disparity among amounts reported, even between the low poverty schools (which all almost certainly have successful fundraisers). So are the schools confused about this too? As we've seen from the Per pupil spending charts usually this extra money, from whatever source, is more or less a drop in the bucket when spread over all the kids in the school, but it would be nice to know exactly what revenues are being reported and what, if any, revenues don't have to be reported. cococlen

Anonymous said...

Ok, so let's say I'm a teacher and we go to a pay-for-performance plan.

So what's to stop me from doing what I can to assure low test scores early in the school year and then vastly improved scores later?

All I have to do is slow down the rate the students learn at early in the school year, leave out substantial chunks of necessary information so that their scores aren't so good, then teach it full speed ahead afterward.

Voila!!! All of a sudden, the people who don't have a clue are satisfied and I'm a great teacher.

If only it were so easy.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bolyn McClung, thank you for sharing the conversation between Merchant and Gorman on how to identify an effective teacher.
Gorman has gone out of his way to remove effective teachers from CMS. First, there were the retirees. Many of these teachers were leaders in their schools. They pulled in high scores every time,and helped mentor new teachers transitioning into the schools. He replaced them with TFA's whose effective data we have yet to see. Then, he tried to convince the public that teachers with Masters were ineffective and needed to be let go. Now he is trying to tell the public that teachers with National Boards are ineffective; therefore, he should decide their pay. It is not difficult to know what teachers are being effective and what teachers are not. Teachers are open to the truth. However Dr. Gorman and Mr. Merchant are you really ready to except the truth? You say "listen to the Kids", but when they were crying and protesting earlier for their teachers, you turned your backs.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:57-I'm pretty sure it doesn't work that way. The test score portion of pay for performance is based on standardized tests (EOGs/EOCs) and uses up to 3 years of previous test score data. So unless a child's previous 3 teachers are doing a bad job to make you look good, then your strategy doesn't really work.