Wednesday, January 29, 2003

EVSC cuts

Ok, here's commentaries on the cuts, point-by-point:

1) As a student, I have to admit I never used the school libraries extensively. Good cut.

2) Middle school counselor aides? What? It's only a $48,000 cut, but I don't think this position was vital either. Good cut.

3) I never used the school nursing facilities often, but I acknowledge their necessity, to some degree. Maybe a $700,000 cut is too drastic, but cuts had to be made somewhere. Yet to be seen.

4) This is undoubtedly an unpopular move. But when identifying the root problem of the EVSC as having too many non-education related programs, this cut makes perfect sense. Good cut.

5) I don't think elementary music cuts will be a serious problem. My elementary school's instrumental music teacher only worked part-time at the school--she was busy with giving private lessons anyway. There were only two grades of music in K-5 anyway. Yeah, "The Tonette Band" will be sorely missed at This is Our Story. But, good cut.

6) Stanley Hall and Christa McAuliffe were established for a valid reason--to have a secure environment for at-risk students to concentrate on learning. Bosse and Glenwood don't have the resources to deal with this influx of students, who do best in small-sized classes. BAD cut.

7) I'm not qualified to speak on raising insurance premiums or whatnot, so my only reponse is, "$1,750,000 is mucho dinero."

8) I don't know what "Special Education savings" are used for, thus no comment.

9) High schoolers can wash their own clothes. Good cut.

10) Field trips should either be funded by the students or through fundraisers; giving out free field trips to uninteresting sites (I distinctly remember visiting a site of Indiana heritage in first grade: a dairy farm) is unproductive, even if not costly. Good cut.

11) The EVSC isn't exactly high-tech enough to require more than a handful of Systems analysts. An idea: Signature lets some students who earn the trust of the staff to maintain Signature's network and website. Good cut.

12) I assume "Supportive Services" means receptionists? I don't think that the EVSC needs THAT many secretaries, but they do play a critical role in keeping the faculty, staff, and students connected. Schools probably don't need more than one secretary per school. Yet to be seen.

13) No comment. I'm not sure what "specialists" are.

14) Why not curb secretarial spending? Good cut.

15) The office assistants are being paid on average a yearly salary of $11,135. They really ought to aspire to a better job anyhow. Good cut.

16) I'm not sure what the "instructional supervisor" is, but it's part of the extensive school bureaucracy that is a large part of the budget crisis. Good cut.

17) I looked all over the EVSC website and I can't find what the "coordinators, psychologists and counselors" are paid right now. So I don't know if this was a good or bad cut.

18) Part-time employees have time to work at a different job, where they could have a better insurance. Limiting part-time employees to employee-only insurance as opposed to spouse-and-children insurance is a good cut.

19) I don't think education is based on supplies...good textbooks are the core essentials. Don't have money to make copies of worksheets for the kids? Make them read the info out of their books and work the problems with pencil and paper.

20) 1 work day of the few accepted cuts, I'm sure. Although it sounds superfluous, this cut saves $407,000!

21) Yeah, what exactly does a supervisor of athletics do that the individual schools couldn't coordinate by themselves? Good cut.

22) ECA stipend cuts--I thought at first this meant ECA pep rallies, but it means extracurricular stipends--ok here's where the controversy lies. Most ECA directors are paid very little right cutting all pay may seem like a slap in their faces. But the fact is that it saves $1,100,000. Many teachers run their activity for "love of the game" (football) or "the pursuit of knowledge"(academic teams) or other sources of joy. Additionally, the School Board set up a corporate fund where companies can donate stipends to the directors. Many have demonized the School Board's decision to cut stipends, but beyond causing a lot of anger this cut could have little impact on ECAs. Unfortunate but good cut. Bad PR-wise.

23) Summer band contracts? Yeah, good cut.

In writing these reviews, I was tempted to rate some of the "good cuts" as merely "prudent cuts" in order to be more PC. But the blunt truth is that the EVSC needed to cut its budget, so a prudent cut is a good cut. So I apologize if I offended any EVSC employees in my reviews; please write me an email and explain to me how your position is crucial to the functioning of the public school system and I'll rewrite my review of your position.

So I rated the majority of those cuts as good, with only one solidly bad cut. But it's key to realize that while some of these cuts were prudent, there are many other cuts which were not approved, or even addressed, at the Board meeting. The fact that the Board members get paid $5000 yearly even though they were all wealthy enough to run and win a campaign needs to be dealt with. The superintendent gets a car with fuel, maintenance and insurance all paid for by the EVSC. Talk about extracurricular! These issues will be addressed in the future.

The rapid-paced, virtually closed-door, meetings of the Board will see lots of protest--as was becoming clear in the last meeting. I don't mean to be a revolutionary, importing the French hyper-pluralism and spreading the populist flames of the Evansville Courier and Press. I realize the necessity and rationality of these cuts, but the Board's PR is shot, and this will lead to revolt.

I'm only the messenger.


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