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It’s summertime and most teachers are taking at least a mental vacation if they cannot afford to take a real one. Other teachers, like myself, may have spent the last two weeks attending professional development sessions without any monetary compensation and are anxiously awaiting their first day off. Anyone remember Rudy Crew and the Summer Heat PD’s where teachers actually got paid their daily rate to attend professional development during the summer back in 2004? Well, that was when the MDCPS was ruled by the big baller Rudy Crew who is said to have bankrupted the district and was quickly deposed by the School Board only to be replaced by El Cheapo who has ruled the MDCPS with a fiscally conservative fist ever since. The current superintendent is happy to snip away at other people’s budgets but when it comes to anyone messing around with his $5 billion funding, watch out. He is so upset with the federal legislation dismantling his control over how Title 1 funds are spent, that the School Board has hired the lobbyist responsible for Trump’s Presidential win at the tune of $108,000 for the next three years. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article157484599.html

I don’t have the mental stamina to transcribe a school board meeting during the summer months, but I did catch the portion of the meeting where the 2017-18 budget was discussed and thought it was important to inform Dade County teachers of some major implications, especially if you work at a Title I school. Thankfully, someone else in the 305 has taken it upon themselves to keep the public informed about what happens at School Board meetings and you can read brief recaps here http://www.ps305.org/ps-305-blog.html (keep in mind that the writer is part of the education reform agenda and is a former TFA teacher and charter school advocate).

As previously mentioned, the superintendent is not happy about changes to the way that Title I funds can be allocated. Previously, the district pretty much had carte blanche and redirected the funds to support their ETO lowest performing schools. Now Title I funds must be allocated based on economic need alone and academic performance indicators cannot play a factor. So a Title I school with an A grade will receive the same funding as a Title I school with an F grade. If you happen to work at a Title I school with high academic results, this is actually good news for you. On the other hand, if you work at a Title I school that is struggling academically, you are about to lose some major bucks. For example, Carol City is expected to lose over $300,000 from next year’s budget. Keep in mind that it was only after the implementation of No Child Left Behind and the state’s accountability system was created that academic indicators became a factor for allocating how Title I funds were spent.

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Other system wide consequences for the district’s newfound impotence over Title I funding allocation include the following:

  1. The downtown district type ETO school interventionists may find themselves sent back to the classroom. If you work at an ETO school, you may be happy to see them go. Maybe some teachers at D and F schools enjoyed the extra support from their ETO designation, but they have not been as vocal as the critics who work at an ETO school.
  2. They may have to cut summer school programs designed to assist with credit recovery and boost graduation rates. Given that Florida Virtual school exists and that starting next year all senior high school students will have access to district devices, I’m not sure why we really need summer school or night school anymore. Summer school and night school have been a nice source of extra income for teachers that don’t have families to rush home to, but they seem anachronistic and an added expense given the prevalence of online learning.
  3. We may see a reduction of secondary schools on the 8 period schedule. This would be a huge impact for many schools, teachers, and students who have become accustomed to the 8 period schedule and have developed certain programs at their schools sites that necessitate the extra periods.

Keep in mind that these changes will go into effect immediately and impact teachers and students as they return to class next August. I want to post the slides that were presented during the Superintendent’s doom and gloom 2017-18 budget forecast.

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So according to the superintendent, despite a $100 increase in per pupil funding, the district will be facing a $90 million shortfall.

The superintendent used some interesting numbers to come up with the $52 million general fund shortfall which included: a mandatory retirement contribution of $6 million, raises from last year costing $30 million, an increase in utilities of $6 million and continued commitment to instructional technology at $14 million.

It seems like the retirement contributions and salary increases are something that the district must budget for every year and are not exactly new expenses. So the district is going to use the fact that we got a raise last year to argue that they don’t have money to give us a raise this year?  The increase in utilities seems like an expected consequence of creating curriculums that are dependent on technology and students with charged devices. People got to plug in somewhere. It seems like some of those utility costs could be controlled by turning down the AC! How many classrooms resemble meat refrigeration centers? Utilities costs may be up but it seems like if teachers and administrators embraced the digital technology copying costs would be come down. How many times has the district placed fliers in our mailboxes and we distribute them only to have the students immediately throw them all over our classroom floors? Another $14 million for instructional technology? What instructional technology? My desktop is over 7 years old. I thought we passed a $1.2 billion technology bond to pay for technology. It seems like the Superintendent was really grasping at straws to come up with a $52 million budget shortfall.

 

Other issues of note from the School Board meeting were the district’s impressive results in testing data which showed that despite socio-economic hardships faced by our student population, the students met or exceeded the statewide performance. The Board congratulated the teachers for their efforts and at least one board member, Dr.Gallon, questioned the superintendent about how the district would reward teachers.

Dr. Gallon: “These results don’t manifest themselves without the 1 to 1 relationships between students and teachers. Our teachers are our unsung heroes. In the state of Florida, there is not a lot of sun shining on our teachers. Our teachers continue to create magic in the classroom. While we’re working there is a a teacher in the classroom who is continuing to work with the children in the classroom. This work cannot happen without our teachers who are doing the work. My final comment is that we celebrate this achievement. Everything in that bill is not bad, one of those things that came out of that bill is the district latitude in the use of VAM. That was a source of consternation for many teachers who produce these results but don’t translate into results in their evaluation. Considering that we have these results despite economic issues, outside of school recognition funds, is there any plans to celebrate and acknowledge these teachers?”

Superintendent: “We should always celebrate the work of teachers. I would rather give that some thought. There may be some collective bargaining. We should celebrate the their exquisite work. Beyond the change in VAM which is now an optional element. We need to carefully examine a one time bonus for effective teachers up to $800 and highly effective bonus of $1200. We hope to put these elements together as we endeavor to recognize their achievements.”

There you have it folks. Expect the bonus money in HB 7069 to be used as an excuse to give you a smaller raise.  I predict we will get a 2% raise from the district. They will claim it as a historic 5% because the $1200 for HE teachers is almost 3% of a beginning teacher’s salary.  UTD called for “innovative” solutions to teacher pay but we will have to wait and see exactly what “innovative means.”

 

As the Chairman of the Board stated: Crisis gives us opportunities.

We can only hope those opportunities benefit the teachers this time around.

 

 

 

 

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