Worst Case Scenerio for Schools by Dan Walters

THOUSANDS of California teachers were given layoff notices a few weeks ago because state law requires
the slips to be sent out each spring if administrators and trustees believe cuts are needed to balance their
budgets.
Later this month, the districts must decide whether to continue or rescind those layoffs on the assumption
that by then they'll know the state of their 2012-13 finances.
That's problematic in any year, because the Legislature, which supplies most of the schools' money, typically
doesn't settle the state budget until weeks or even months later.
A law passed by voters in 1988 is supposed to govern what schools receive, but its numbers are subject to
annual manipulation, such as "deferring" payments for a year or more.
State and local school financing has dropped by about $700 per pupil since 2008 and 20 percent of state
appropriations are being deferred, thus requiring districts to use their reserves or borrow money.
This mess precludes even diligent officials from making rational decisions about staffing levels, building
maintenance or other cost factors. At best, they can only guess and hope to adjust if they're wrong.
This year is even worse than usual.
The 2011-12 budget assumed revenues that everyone knew at the time were most likely falsely optimistic and
that has proved to be the case. The 2012-13 budget now being formulated will assume that voters pass Gov.
Jerry Brown's tax package in November, and he's hinging passage on the false assertion that it will give a big
boost to schools.
As the Legislature's budget analyst and others have pointed out, passage of taxes would give K-12 education
only $2.2 billion to catch up on some deferrals, not any new operational funding.
But if taxes are rejected, Brown wants school districts to lose that and another $2.4 billion, and also be forced
to eat $2.6 billion in school bond payments now paid out of the state general fund. The total hit would be
$7-plus billion, or more than $1,000 per pupil.
However, that's just Brown's proposal, and no one knows whether legislators will write a contingency plan for
rejection of taxes. Nor does anyone know whether they'll enact another Brown proposal to give more money
to low-performing districts and, therefore, less to everyone else.
So, one wonders, how do school officials make valid decisions in May and June on teacher layoffs and other
fiscal matters?
They can't. So many, if not most, districts appear to be adopting worst-case scenarios. If they didn't and taxes
failed, they'd have to make midyear cuts and, more than likely, be forced to negotiate them with unions for
teachers and other employees.
If California voters and politicians had set out to create the most convoluted, irrational school finance system
possible, they could not have done a better job.

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Article is Right - so then what?

This article is right on the mark.

That seems to leave the Garvey District a couple of options, since their reserve at present is healthy.

1. Throw the baby out with the bath water. Make draconian cuts now assuming the worst case will happen and then try to bandage things back together if the money comes in after all.

2. Just throw out the bath water now. Negotiate with the unions concerning what happens if the money from the initiative doesn't come in. Teachers are presently negotiating with the District. Teachers know the situation. They are pushing to get the initiative passed.

Preparing for possible cuts ahead of time is prudent. If the initiative doesn't pass, contingency plans are in place to deal with the budget shortfall.

Making drastic cuts now in case something might happen would be worse for the students.
If the initiative eventually passes, either students have gone without a program they could have had, or schools are thrown into turmoil when teachers are rehired mid-year. We may never get back some of the teachers who are cut based on a worst case scenario right now.

The system we are in is a mess, but if the District was being run through collaboration instead of tyranny, we could work these issues out for the good of the kids. Instead we are fighting to oust an ineffective leader who would rather talk to parents about how to fire teachers rather than bring parents, teachers, classified, administration etc. together to work on solutions.

Instead of working on the important financial issues that all Districts face, the Superintendent has decided to attack teacher rights which are presently in the contract and were negotiated with the District over the past few decades. This grab for power will just delay the bargaining process and force the School Board to make decisions before the teachers and the District can agree to possible contingencies.

The Superintendent's priorities are askew and in the end the students lose.

Non-Collaboration

I commend Mr. Ramos for putting up and article on the facts about the situation out there. But as for this Garvey Teacher, probably someone on the GEA Leadership Team spreading their skewed views and lies makes me furious.
Non-Collaboration is a good word to describe how the Teachers Union is behaving. It seems only when it is convenient for the Teachers Union and it is to benefit that they would consider the district collaborating. When times are tough and require shared sacrifice, then it is called vying. Collaboration would mean self sacrifice to save other teachers jobs by taking a pay cut across the board. That includes Administration, Teachers, and Classified. The Tyrants seem to be the Unions having held control of Garvey School District for far too many years and now that things are not in their favor are screaming bloody murder, and would have the Superintendent hung or nailed to a cross if they could. It is time that we as parents and community stand up to these Unions that are not only bankrupting the state but ruining our public education system. GEA has been spreading lies to parents, students, and even their own teachers. What does it tell you when the GEA in negotiations says, “Until RIFs are rescinded, no further discussions of monetary concessions from GEA are necessary.” It goes to show you that GEA is really the one not collaborating by not even willing to consider anything to help the budget situation or their fellow teachers. GEA's priorities are askew, it is because of your non-collaboration that these teachers are being RIF'd and the students suffer. Shame on you Garvey Teacher and GEA!

Mrs. Perez

School Finances

Walters is absolutely right - all school districts are in a financial mess! That's why all districts MUST curtail spending in creative ways. That's why all districts have to sit down with all their staffs and work out a financial plan for the next few years that doesn't harm our students' progress. That's why the collaborative approach is so necessary. That's why we need to begin again to respect those who sit across the table from us. That's why we need leadership from the board not obsequious obeisance to authority. That's why we need to study the issues, delve into other sources of information, truly and thoroughly discuss the fiscal implications of the coming armageddon, develop new ideas, open up our minds ..and truly be a working board!

Poor Teachers

It's very sad to know that the teachers are the ones who are very much affected. Issuing layoffs to the teachers because of financial restraints is just to much for me. So then what? Schools will have fewer teachers? The fewer teachers will have to adjust in filling up the roles left by the layoff-ed teachers? I agree to Bob. They should have a meeting and delve on the problem and every single idea from every individual who is concerned should be considered vital.

Jake from Parc enfant pas cher

Interesting quote choice

An interesting quote to choose from a GEA document from Mrs. Perez.

I shouldn't bother responding,(because I feel it will fall on deaf ears) but here goes.

It took weeks to get the District to acknowledge that the RIFs had an effect on the bottom line, and even longer for the idea that layoff notices might be rescinded in order to restore jobs if GEA made concessions. This is where discussion appears to be now. Saving jobs.

Nobody seems to remember that GEA was ready to negotiate in December, because there was much to discuss. (GEA was really ready in November as the District requested, but since the District wasn't ready, GEA didn't sunshine their proposal) The District wasn't ready to negotiate until March. They waited until after they gave layoff notices. GEA wanted to bargain before the layoff notices, in order to minimize layoff notices, but the District held up the process. The Disrict let 34 people go and then acted as if that had no effect on the bottom line.

Here are links to two documents submitted at bargaining. If you have an open mind, please take the time to read them and understand the context in which the aforementioned quote was written. If you still believe GEA is stonewalling, so be it. GEA was just trying to get the District to admit they were willing to rescind layoffs. GEA could not bargain concessions in exchange for the rescission of layoffs if the District was not willing to do so.

I don't know how GEA is at fault for RIFs when they were Board Approved before the District was ready or willing to sit down at the table.

Document 1:
http://www.garvey.k12.ca.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_51888/File/SupOffic...

Document 2: The quote is from here.

http://www.garvey.k12.ca.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_51888/File/SupOffic...

To Mrs. Perez

"It is time that we as parents and community stand up to these Unions that are not only bankrupting the state but ruining our public education system."

Ummmm, the last time I checked "these Unions" consist of the very people who ARE the public education system...the teachers and the classified staff. Without them there would be no public education system. When parents want to take turns teaching the classes, maintaining the school's databases, making and sending a lunch to school everyday for your child to eat, keeping students safe on the playground, changing the diapers of the unpotty trained, encouraging leadership in other parents, driving your children to school in your own cars instead of busses, fixing everything and anything that breaks, mowing the lawns, delivering the supplies to the schools, giving diabetic students their insulin injections, making sure all children have adequate immunizations, taking your own children to the dentist instead of expecting the school district to take care of your children's oral health, assessing students for learning difficulties and meeting their needs, and everything else that certificated and classified staff members do FOR YOUR CHILDREN, then QUIT BLAMING US for a system that is run by politicians that YOU have elected and do nothing to put in check. Until the politicans in Sacramento put an end to this game playing and fund education in this state at an adequate level, public education will remain as it is. Your choice...home schooling. Try it! I'm sure you'll find it much more difficult that you think and you'll be the first to return your children to the "Tyrants" in the schools.

Just Concerned Has a Point!

Just Concerned has a great suggestion! Home schooling and privatize education is the way to go. This way parents have better say in the quality of education for their children and not have to subject our children to attitudes of adults who feel that they are doing a huge favor for ungrateful, uneducated and irresponsible parents in the district. Best of all, we don't have to hand over our children so that Just Concerned can have a job, medical benefits (that many Garvey families do not have)to support his/her family and put his/her children thru school (most likely private school).

Anonymous Completely Missed The Point!

Its interesting that you titled your reply to my post as "Just Concerned Has a Point" and then completely missed it altogether! Home schooling and private education is not MY suggestion. Its been available longer than public education has been around. Parents have more say in public education than most of them are aware of. However, most of them don't bother to say anything at all. In private schools, parents have less say in matters because the school gives you a choice. Either buy what they're selling or hit the road. They don't have to take any and all students or put up with parents who don't agree with the school's philosophy.

Perhaps you think that educators who have dedicated their lives to the education of children, have spent considerable time and money earning degrees and credentials in their chosen profession and have worked diligently for years to improve that profession should work for free? Seriously, you need a reality check. Nothing worth having is free and that includes a quality public education. If you don't want to hand your children over to the likes of us, then exercise your options. Plain and simple.

True, nothing worth having is free.

Except for the spontaneous smile of a curious, happy and educated child, nothing else is free. I never stated that those working in public education should work for free, nor should they. Every employee, regardless of whether it’s in the public or private industry, should be fairly compensated for their training, experience and time. There are many employees and volunteers in public education (even in Garvey) who gave much more than what they are compensated for because they believe in their jobs and the children they served, and hope that they showed an innocent child he/she is worthy of respect with a future to look forward to . Sometimes a simple word of thanks would be nice but that’s even a rarity these days. The main revenue source for both public and private school is the same: children. Just because parents do not directly write out a check to the school in public education does not mean their children deserve a lesser quality education or that they simply don’t care therefore do not bother to speak up. That’s why we elected representatives, and they are supposed to represent us. Sadly, most of our “elected representatives” these days are beholden to special interests that contribute to their election campaigns, and voted on policies that got us into this current economic mess. Those who work in public education made a choice just as parents chose to have their children in public school. If one is so unhappy working in public education, don’t stay in it. Leave and let someone else have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of working in an industry where you only have to work 9 months of the year, get winter and spring breaks off with pay, get decent medical benefits and retirement savings paid by the employer, paid sick time and leave, get paid for professional development and the priceless reward to witness fascinated expressions of a curious child for having learned something cool from a caring teacher or employee and continue to build on that knowledge to contribute meaningfully to our society. It's really that simple.

More Truths

What I find most sad in the Garvey School District is that some elected board members are supportive of a Superintendent who is hell bent on destroying the district altogether. One's special interest is the promotion and expansion of her own afterschool program. Anonymous states above that "if one is so unhappy working in public education, don't stay in it. Leave and let someone else have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of working in an industry where you only have to work 9 months of the year, get winter and spring breaks off with pay, get decent medical benefits and retirement savings paid by the employer, paid sick time and leave, get paid for professional development..."

First, let me try to help you understand the truth. I never said that I was unhappy working in public education. I am unhappy with the state of the Garvey School District and am dedicated to working to turn thngs around both at the local level and at the state level. I have dedicated nearly my entire professional career to public education. You suggest that I leave it and let someone else have the opportunity... There are no opportunities in education today! Every year professional and hard working staff are LAID OFF, not hired. For the record, not everyone who works in education works for 9 months. There are 9.23 month, 9.5 month, 10 month, 10.23 month, 11 month and 12 month employees. Certificated teachers and other service providers (psychologists, speech language pathologists, nurses, etc.) are the only ones who have paid Winter and Spring breaks and that's because they do not receive any vacation days throughout the year and because they are contracted to work a certain number of days per year.

Management and Classified staff must take vacation days if they wish to be absent during Winter or Spring break. In the case of Classified staff who work in the schools, they MUST take their vacation days during the breaks as other work is not available for them. New Classified employees who work at school sites do not even EARN enough vacation days for the first 5 years of employment to cover the break days that they MUST take off. As a result, their pay is docked each year.

In the Garvey School District, health care benefits are negotiated by the two associations which represent the certificated and classified staff. However, whatever is negotiated with the unions is then adopted by the Management employees as well. Then there are the board members who get to choose which union plan they desire for themselves and their families. In additional to health benefits for their entire families at no cost to them, they receive a much larger life insurance policy than anyone else. They also receive a paycheck for every board meeting they attend and many other "freebies" thanks to the taxpayers.

Retirement plans for classified and certificated staff are paid into by both the employee and the employer, just as it is in most businesses. Yes, some staff also EARN paid sick and vacation time, again, just as it is in most businesses and some staff get paid for professional development. Not all school district staff members receive the "priceless reward to witness fascinated expressions of a curious child for having learned something cool from a caring teacher or employee..." Some staff work far away from the classroom supporting that very teacher and student. Their reward is in a job well done when at the end of the year student scores are up and schools receive statewide rewards for their accomplishments.

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