I think I've decided to vote DOWN the school budget next year

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Aliceacc, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 30, 2011

    As you know, my 3 kids are all enrolled in local public schools-- the older 2 in the middle school, the younger in elementary.

    And I've seen some things this year that have me rethinking my automatic voting in favor of the school budget:

    Staffing: Kira has had 2 BAD teachers, and 2 delightful teachers. I've had no other issues with my kids' teachers. Kira also receives special services: speech, reading, and she works with the audiologist.

    But she's in a class of 29.(No class in our district can contain fewer than 16 kids.)

    Our district, like so many, is incredibly top heavy. There are layers and layers and layers of administrators, yet large class sizes.

    Of course, staffing is not part of the budget. And as parents, we have no say in who gets tenure. So the only way I can voice my displeasure here is with my vote.

    LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of tax money being spent on staffing.

    Technology: I keep reading of the wonders of smartboards. And just about every classroom in the district has one.

    My son, who is in 8th grade, has the use for the year of a graphing calculator. We had to sign a disclaimer saying we would fork over the $100 or so if it was damaged. He's in EIGHTH grade, taking algebra. He doesn't need a calculator at all, much less a $100 one. But he has one. So does every other 8th grader. So do, I presume, every one of the students in the high school. (Not sure of their enrollment, but there are 7 feeder elementary schools.)

    LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of tax money being spent on technology.

    Enrichment: This is the one that sent me over the edge. Peter and I really want Brian to get involved in something. So we directed him: join something by today or we're signing you up. I called his guidance counselor earlier in the week, to see if she could nudge him towards any direction at all. And I found out that, with the exception of some sports, yearbook, and the play, all extra curricular activities in the middle school are gone. (Keep in mind, we PASSED the budget.)

    So..... what are my tax dollars buying me? What do I lose if they don't pass the budget? Well, they'll probably drop activites from the high school. But if my kids don't develop the interest before that point, it's unlikely to matter.

    They'll drop the late busses. Again, no big deal.

    What do I have to lose by voting against the budget?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    What do you have to lose? It CAN get worse, Alice. It takes years to recover from a budget that isn't passed. The two bad teachers are going to stay regardless of the budget provided they have tenure and are senior enough...the overcrowded classes could have MORE kids in them because of cuts. The few extracurriculars you have could also be gone. Have you ever considered running for the school board? They could use someone who actually knows and has a passion for education.
     
  4. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Please take your concerns to your school board representative. They are the ones who ultimately make decisions related to how money is spent. The district I worked for many years ago has always been conservative and their budget didn't pass and now only students who can "pay to play" are on the teams. You're right, extra curriculars are always the first to go while admin seems to multiply and the kids suffer.
    I firmly believe that education can cut costs if we try (but oddly enough, they never ask teachers how this could be done). Unfortunately, teaching positions were cut instead of some of the things (or people) that I think could be eliminated.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree with all of this.
     
  6. LITeachTeach

    LITeachTeach Rookie

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    You can vote against the budget all you want, but as per New York state law, tenured teachers will remain employed unless they are proved to be incompetent or demonstrate qualities unbecoming of a teacher. i.e. your run-of-the-mill dud of a teacher will not lose his or her job. Also, as per the law, the district will continue to make contributions to the public employment retirement systems of pedagogical and non-pedagogical employees. Really, voting down the budget will have no impact on the way the district runs. If it fails, all the "extras" go while mandated pension contributions are made and special education services are provided.
     
  7. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Are the school board representatives really going to listen in how the money should be distributed?
     
  8. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    I've always lived and worked in small school districts so perhaps my experience is skewed but why on earth would the board of education NOT care to hear about cost cutting suggestions?
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    They listened in the district I grew up in. They tried to pass a levy one year, and it was the first one ever that had failed. They held several meetings for the community where they took suggestions, heard concerns, and basically tried to figure out why people were all of the sudden not voting for it. One of the big things that was voiced was that the entire burden of paying the levy was on homeowners, while everyone who rented had to pay nothing. The next year they changed the tax to be based on income so that everyone would pay their share if they were employed. The levy passed that year.

    We are currently trying to pass a levy here. It would be less than 100 dollars per year for people whose houses are valued at 1 million (yes, that is the average here for homeowners). Seriously- a 1 million dollar house and we're making a big deal about 100 bucks a year! Over the past 5 years, my district has taken over 16 million in cuts. The levy would at least return us to a level of funding that we were at 3 years ago, and keep teachers from being cut. We had someone from the community (not affiliated with the district- not an employee and his kids are done with school) come in and talk about it this morning. I think he made some really good points. He was talking about how of course there are things that we disagree with that the district does- that's going to happen anywhere. However, whatever your personal feelings about such-and-such policy, teacher, or admin are, taking money away from students (any students, even if they're not your children) isn't going to help anybody in any way- there can only be negative outcomes from that. Things can only get worse with less funding, and it's not like taking funding away can fix the things you're upset about. There are plenty of admin in our sped department that are completely lousy and make policies that I absolutely do not agree with- but budget cuts or not, they're not going anywhere and neither are their policies.
     
  10. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I see both sides of the issue. Technology is a definite necessity. Each of our 8th grade teachers has a class set of graphing calculators to use in class for activities. Students only need a scientific calculator for at home use. Keep in mind though, Alice, grants for technology are very easy to come by. Often times technology is purchased with funds that come from a grant that is only for technology. For example, at my new school each student and teacher has a Macbook pro. Each classroom has a projector, document camera, and mimio. The computers are filled with software from quiz taking software, to a clicker emulator, etc. All of this was purchased with funds that we received from grants from the state, federal government, and third party companies. I cannot use any of this funding for staffing or anything non-technology related.
     
  11. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    This is the case at my school too- the funding for all of our "fancy" tech items comes from outside grants that can only be used for tech.
     
  12. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Our school had to buy 9-NINE-new flat screen TV's for our distance learning this year, in addition to the 6 we already had. We have 60 kids in high school. Not all of them take distance classes. We have these TV's stuck in every random corner of our school, some of which aren't being used.

    But the grant said we had to.

    We also went 1-to-1 the year we had to RIF a teacher. That's not easy to explain to the public.
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Seriously though, what do MY kids lose by the budget going down???

    They're not athletes.

    The teacher union won't let class sizes get much bigger.

    So why would I vote for the budget???
     
  14. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Usually, if a budget is not passed around here, the first things to go are art, music, and PE. Then we lose paras, then speech services, then ESE services are cut. Even though many of these things are mandated by federal law, the districts find a work around to cut back. Sports is the last thing to go.
     
  15. LITeachTeach

    LITeachTeach Rookie

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    Once an IEP is signed, it becomes a legal document and the district must provide all mandated services so your daughter will not lose special ed services unless additional services are provided beyond what's on the IEP. To save money, the district could outsource to outside vendors which could potentially affect the quality of your child's providers.

    The district will definitely cut electives at the high school and middle school levels and would potentially cut certain class levels (honors, AP, remedial etc.)
     
  16. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Make sure the contract is very explicit in the rules for class size limits. If there is any wiggle room, ability to declare an emergency in order to up the size, or no defined limit to the size the union will not be able to do much until the next contract negotiations.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    EVERY vote in EVERY election is an expression of opinion.
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I no longer choose to be part of this thread.
     
  19. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    It's good that schools are implementing more technology, but I don't believe they are allocating technology funds wisely. For instance, I've seen schools with two computers in a classroom but were talking about getting enough iPads for all the students to use. I don't think administrators should think of "technology" as this amorphous cloud that includes all the latest fads that are out today and instead focus on teaching our students to use the INTERNET which is the major resource of this age effectively, and productively without being distracted.

    This means spending time teaching students productivity strategies and using the technology to provide classrooms with a sufficient number of BASIC computers with internet access and security features, not iPads, iPod touches, iAnything.
     
  20. TechGuy

    TechGuy Rookie

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    voting down a budget can be a good thing. makes the admin think twice about their choices.
     
  21. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    This is how it is at my district as well. We have smart boards in every classroom--all came via grants.
     
  22. teacher304

    teacher304 Companion

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    Does this mean you changed your mind about the budget vote?
     
  23. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    I will admit - I vote in a different district than I teach in, and I did vote down their budget last time.

    The district is not handling their resources well, and then they came to us asking for more.

    Sometimes we act like we need to give school districts a blank check so they can make things better for the kids, but if they are just going to throw away my tax dollars, it isn't reaching the kids anyway.
     
  24. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    There was some REALLY UGLY and personal attacks in the interim which have now been deleted...those may have had an influence on the OPs decision to refrain from further comment.
     

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