Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How many teachers would $26 million save?

County Manager Harry Jones' newly unveiled budget proposal is good news for CMS, even if it's not everything they asked for. It's not the final word, of course. The commissioners get that. But if they stick to Jones' script, CMS will get $26 million more than last year, which school board chair Eric Davis calls a welcome step in the right direction toward closing the school system's $100 million budget shortfall.

So, what exactly would CMS do with the additional $26 million? The school board has long said it would follow the four tiers of reductions outlined in Superintendent Peter Gorman's budget plan. (Some commissioners and a few school board members have questioned whether the board will truly stick to that plan). Be that as it may, the general expectation seems to be that they'll follow the tiers.

According to the tiers, $26 million would allow CMS to add back 260 teaching positions in grades 4-12 (cost: $15.4 million). Gorman has said CMS needs $10 million from the county to cover next year's projected student enrollment growth and sustaining current operations. That ostensibly would need to be handled even before you get to the tiers. So, as best as I can tell, those two items would pretty much consume the $26 million.

Falling just short of restoration would be the next priority item -- 146 teaching positions allocated under the "weighted student staffing" formula that assigns additional teachers to help low-income students. And just beyond that in the tiers would be 164 positions that include media specialists, guidance counselors and academic and literacy facilitators.

School board member Joe White told me yesterday that he's hoping the state will follow the county's example and give CMS more money. Like other school advocates around the state, he wants the General Assembly to extend the one-cent temporary sales tax. Republicans have said they want to end it, and the House version of the budget does so. With the Senate working feverishly toward finalizing its version of the budget, the true size of CMS' budget hole -- and the fate of hundreds of educators' jobs -- is slowly coming into focus.


Wiley Coyote said...

Falling just short of restoration would be the next priority item -- 146 teaching positions allocated under the "weighted student staffing" formula that assigns additional teachers to help low-income students.

The increase year over year for "weighted student staffing" will eventually consume the entire system.

CMS has no more clue as to who is truly "low income" than they know how to evaluate teachers.

Demand the USDA allow CMS to conduct a full audit of the school lunch program.

Anonymous said...

"Pete" sent out an email this afternoon and said the 10 million was coming from other cuts that had already been made. If they get the money, they will restore weighted student staffing and avoid adding two more kids to 4th grade - 12th grade. He would then decide which support people to restore.

Anonymous said...

The items restored come from the bottom of each tier and work upward. That's what we were told originally, so it wouldn't restore all teaching positions that were cut.

Anonymous said...

Can someone share the criteria for teacher assistant cuts? Was it years of service, performance appraisals, highly qualified status, or some other formula created by HR? Some of those cut had more years of service, good reviews, and were certified HQ, so how were those decisions made?

Anonymous said...

The county budget proposal doesn't reach high enough in tier 4 to restore teacher assistants or bright beginnings.

Anonymous said...

Teachers - You owe the Taxpayers a BIG Thank You. Just how much money did it cost your union thugs to buy off the county commissioners?

Anonymous said...

It must be nice to be a Teacher - you work 3 years and receive tenure which means your are NEVER held accountable, you have a job for LIFE and your union buys off the county commissioners!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 10:06:
You have a skewed idea of what tenure is and how teachers are organized in NC.

Teachers who have career status (not called tenure in NC) can be fired for performing poorly. The only difference between a teacher who is career status (4+ years of experience in NC, not 3) and one who is not is that the county must go through a due process procedure. A teacher who is not career status can be fired at the whim of the superintendent regardless of how well he/she performs. If a principal does his/her job and documents the poor performance of a career status teacher, that teacher can be gone within a year.

Secondly, teachers are barred by law from collective bargaining in NC. We have no unions in this state. We have employee organizations that really have very little power in this state.

Since opinion should be based on fact, perhaps it would be prudent of you to research the topic before commenting on it.

Anonymous said...

The only union involved is Union County. Surrounding counties get the benefit of superior displaced teachers for lower salaries and better working conditions. Don't let facts get in the way of your commentary 10:04/10:06.

Anonymous said...

"weighted student staffing" is only needed because kids can't behave like humans in certain schools... more personnel is needed to help somewhat contain the ill-behaved, thugish "kids" in those schools...

Wiley Coyote said...

This program (Title I) provides financial assistance through State educational agencies (SEAs) to local educational agencies (LEAs) and public schools with high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure that all children meet challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards.

LEAs target the Title I funds they receive to public schools with the highest percentages of children from low-income families. Unless a participating school is operating a schoolwide program, the school must focus Title I services on children who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet State academic standards. Schools enrolling at least 40 percent of students from poor families are eligible to use Title I funds for schoolwide programs that serve all children in the school.

In 2009, the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates for Charlotte Mecklenburg listed the number of children in poverty between the ages of 5 and 17 to be 29,514. The total 5 to 17 population is listed as 163,361.

Based on the USDA school lunch program, there are a little over 74,000 students getting free or reduced lunches out of a 135,000 CMS student population.

CMS sample audits showed that at least 60% of applicants in the sample audit did not qualify.

If the sample audit held true across the board, then the real number would be closer to 30,000 students who would actually meet the requirements.

It's amazing how if the 60% who possibly don't qualify are removed from the rolls and the number goes down to 30,000 how close that matches the federal government's poverty census estimates for CMS at 29,514.

We need to get a verifiable number in order to really target funds to students who truly need the help, instead of turning a blind eye to the problem and wasting money.