I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, December 19, 2008

School Board Votes to Cut Teacher Pay, Saving District 3.3 Million Dollars

Not here, though. This is happening in Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the largest school districts in that state, From the December 19, 2008, Washington Post:

"The Fairfax County School Board paved the way for employee salary reductions last night, voting to suspend a policy that would have protected many from pay cuts next year..The School Board voted 11 to 1 to suspend the benefit starting Jan. 1 and extending to June 30, 2011, when they plan to revisit it. James L. Raney (At Large) voted against the change.
"In normal times, it's a very nice benefit for our employees, but these are far from normal times," said Kevin North, assistant superintendent for human resources.
School officials estimate that the change could save $3.3 million in fiscal 2010 as they redesign programs, eliminate positions and offer some employees shorter or lower-paying contracts."

Escambia County is quite a bit different than Fairfax County,Virginia, but both counties share similar budget woes. The State of Florida recently announced a special session of the legislature to address a continuing, unprecedented budget shortfall. Everyone who does not have their head planted in the sand has to be reminded that this year's budget in Florida will be reduced, and next yer's budget will more than likely be even smaller. It is time for everyone to get back to reality and understand the severe economic hardships at hand.

As a School Board Member for Escambia Couty Florida, in the midst of this economic reality, I believe that we have to work to find how to continue to best provide for our STUDENTS. This has to be the number one priority, followed by finding the best way to work within our budget constraints to continue to work toward improving our educational system overall--providing the maximum return on scarce dollars for the "boss"--The Taxpayers. Taxpayers are all of our boss--they foot the bill, provide everything we have, and deserve an organization that runs efficiently, effectively, and with the least amount of friction (labor union vs district) as possible.

While we can all look at statistical charts and graphs that show how Florida ranks, funding wise, compared to other states, we must not get in the weeds over this issue. We should not look at this problem negatively, as the be all end all of our success. After all-- some of the lowest funded schools in the nation per FTE (Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota) are some of the best Public Schools in our Nation. Also, some of the highest funded districts in the nation per FTE, (Washington D.C., California, New York) struggle mightily. It's not always about dollars, and anyone who is truly being honest knows this.

It is not always about money because intelligent people know that throwing money at issues does not automatically equal a solution. In fact, a 50 year look at Student Achievement compared with per student governmental spending in U.S. pulic Schools clearly illustrates that as expenditures have grown, statistical per student achievement has not kept proportionate pace with the spending increases. I truly believe that every expenditure (including, locally, $45K in Title I money for parents of kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders to receive the Monday PNJ paper--a less-than necessary expenditure in my humble opinion) MUST be examined carefully. I think in the near future the priority needs to be working within the constraints of EXISTING budgets during the recession to find ways to cut spending, save money, and hold STUDENTS harmless. Employees of this district (including Administrators, Board Members, and Teachers) are here to serve Students and Taxpayers---NOT VICE VERSA !

I believe it is imperative for the Escambia School District to work with the Escambia County Teacher's Union Employees to create a less divisive, more student centered atmosphere, and that is what I intend to do for as long as I am on the Escambia County School Board.

For more information on Fairfax county Virginia issue, read the entire Washington Post article here:

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