Friday, February 4, 2011

Another peek into the CMS crystal ball

I didn't fall on my face forecasting last month's magnet-busing action, so here are my best guesses on some questions that are floating about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools budget:

Will the school board delay voting on Bright Beginnings again?

Could be. The two-week postponement had me scratching my head from the start. The folks we've talked to say no one has worked out a good alternative to the $10.4 million in proposed cuts, but there's still a lot of desire in the community and on the board to avoid them.

If the board pulls the trigger, the only advantage seems to be giving about 100 pre-K teachers notice that they should jump into the transfer pool to seek new jobs. Clearly, those teachers already know their jobs are at risk. If the board delays, members will say they're allowing more time for the community to find a solution. Translate that as more pressure on county commissioners to bump up money for CMS.

Will outsourcing non-academic functions save teacher jobs in 2011?

Superintendent Peter Gorman and his staff won't say, but I'm going to place a bet on "no."

At the Jan. 25 meeting, some board members asked about options for outsourcing or "managed competition," which involves letting staff produce a plan that's competitive with private bids. Gorman talked about the process of legal and procedural review that's just cranking up. This is genuinely complicated stuff, given the snarl of state and federal requirements that come with almost anything a school district does. If there were an easy win at hand, I suspect it would be in the current plans. My prediction: This won't be ready for the 2011-12 budget that will be presented in April, but Gorman & Co. will study options for 2012-13.

Will we be able to watch Tuesday's board meeting live on the web?

LaTarzja Henry says yes. So far CMS is 50/50: Live webstreaming worked Jan. 11 and failed Jan. 25. I've got no great technological insight on this; I'm lucky to get my own netbook working from the Gov Center.

Should we read Sunday's paper?

Why, yes!  There are some interesting developments in the Bright Beginnings data wars that you'll want to catch up on.

6 comments:

wiley coyote said...

Why, yes! There are some interesting developments in the Bright Beginnings data wars that you'll want to catch up on.

It's a miracle! All of a sudden there is data!

Imagine that....Can't wait to see this Wabbit pulled out of the hat.

Carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ann and Eric,
Please ask CMS how much they are paying Measurement, Inc. of Durham to develop tests for every subject taught in our schools. The state stopped using them for EOCs because they were too expensive. There has been a call for fewer standardized tests for students and yet, no one is questioning the tremendous number that are coming so that Pete can have some basis for Pay for Performance.

Anonymous said...

If Pete wants skewed data, just ask assessment to skew it. PFP is already acknowledged by its PR person as flawed and floundering in direction. If tests are needed just use the released tests from other states on Thinkgate that we're supposed to be "teaching" our students with. All the wabbit data is provided to the BOE Pandering Dunderheads with the expressed direction that this material is the one and only verifiable info on BB. I hope the cartoon tie makes an appearance.

Anonymous said...

Good questions to make public:
1) How much does Thinkgate cost?
2) How much did putting a new computer processor in classrooms county-wide over the summer cost?
3) Is PFP proposing that 75% of CMS teachers take a pay CUT for 25% to make more?

Anonymous said...

Measurement, Inc. That is a company worth investigating...and the most important question is how much are we paying this company to create tests for pay for performance? How much money is budgeted for this whole project and where is the funding that will support it? And while we are on the subject of transparency...how can we find out about all of the companies that CMS pays for services that could be done internally, such as the SQR team that comes to us from Cambridge, England to evaluate our schools over the past few years? Must be a pretty penny to pay for their travel expenses...not anyone in the states that could do this, no less CMS? Not to mention the consummable Investigations books that go for $80 a piece for every 3rd - 5th grader and are barely used...don't get me started...
Lastly, if we are going to cut Bright Beginnings because we don't have the data to support it...then we need to apply that logic to all aspects of the budget...where is the data that says the impact of the zone office administrators on test scores?