A word about the teachers union which has got much attention with the open contract than a list of improvements that needs to happen.
Let's set the record straight. The teachers union's only purpose is to increase or improve the compensation position of the teachers. They don't give a hoot about the kids or education. The only time they complain about program cuts is when it could cost a teacher a job. I don't have a problem with that because that is the unions job. Just don't tell me the union cares about kids because the kids have always come last in this district behind teachers and administration compensation. This doesn't mean all teachers don't care. It just means the unions purpose is to advance the position of the teachers not the kids or education.
Why did the union open the contract. Very simply, because it will save some jobs. The administration behind closed doors said open it or jobs will go. The teachers really don't get hit that hard on this one. Step increases stay in place. The union was able to get this by its members for two reasons. First, the retirement incentive for the older teachers is a huge present. It is like a 20% raise in their last year. Second, the district has 'gutted' the district of a lot of the teachers with the seniority with retirement options so that they can protect some of the younger teachers for a change. It really is a game to these people.
Did this game really needed to be played? Yes and no. Yes, if the infrastructure of the compensation plans for the administration and teachers is going to be preserved for the future. No, if the cowardly board finally said enough is enough we have to do things differently. Times have changed and with decreasing enrollment, decreasing tax revenues and an economy that is not likely to rebound soon we need to be open to do things differently. Insanity is doing the same thing year after year and thinking you will get a different result. Well this board is insane.
What can the district to really improve?
Here are a few suggestions:
1- We are administrative heavy. We should go back to the number of administrators that we had 10 years ago. Do you really think the district has improved because we added administrators? NO! The comparisons in administrative headcount to Brentwood are totally invalid. The have a completely different student population with different needs. They are truly a bi-lingual district and have a student population which is 30% new every year because people move in and out of the district. Add gangs to the mix. We are not Brentwood so the argument that we need the same structure or the same amount or type of administrators is invalid.
2- Look to consolidate some of the administrative positions with adjoining districts. For example some services should be regionalized and consolidated with ‘like’ districts. Businesses were forced to do this 2 recessions ago.
It doesn't mean consolidated districts, just certain services.
3- Most people with the exception of teachers think there compensation plan is very good. I agree and especially today most people with love to have the same plan. The contracts not only need to be opened they need to be restructured. They really do need to look more like the private sector. The medical contributions and pensions are really completely out of whack with the tax base's ability to support it. However, if I were the teachers, in fairness I would not give back a dime until administrators did the same. Giving the Business Manager an early retirement present of a 10% raise to increase his pension was an insult to every student, teacher and tax payer. People need to wake and hold the board accountable for this irresponsible behavior.
4- Administrative salaries are totally out of whack. Old Super Superintend M used to argue that the administrators total dollar amount that was under there control was so much that it equated to an equally large salary in the private sector. This is a false assumption. Public sector jobs are cost centers they don’t need to worry about bringing business into the shop. They only need to worry about how to spend the money wisely. It sales don’t happen jobs are lost. Spending money is easy. Bringing sales in is the real challenge in the real world
5- Both teachers and administrators need to be held accountable for their performance. Because of petty politics in the district, tenure might be a necessary evil. And don’t kid yourself administrators are vindictive. However, there does need to be a system of accountability. That system needs to start with measurement. What gets measured gets done! You can’t hold someone accountable if a measurement system is not in place. How do you know if things are getting better or worse if things are not measured. The measurement system should start with district goals and objectives that are measured. Graphs that visually track the progress of the goals should be posted in the administration building and every school so that students, parents, teachers and administrators can see how we are doing. Administrators and teachers should be given job objectives and measured against these goals.
6- The board needs to be changed drastically. Most, not all really don’t have a clue and don’t have the students best interest at heart. The young kid has no business being on the board. People that have relatives that work for the district have no business being on the board and voting for any compensation plan. People that have ties to any teacher’s union have no business on this board. This board has become a rubber stamp for the business manager who is the guy really running this district. A good start this year would be dumping the kid and guy that belongs to a teachers union (Mr. Sacv)
7- We need to clean house of some of our top administrators. The super is a nice guy but is not looking at new ways of doing things. He just cuts, cuts and cuts. He is intent on bringing our district down to a level of Patch-Med where he comes from. Nice guy but the wrong guy for his job. The business manager is a smart guy but also hides fiscal information from both the board and residents. It is next to impossible to get good information from him.
8- Student activities should be restored in the next school year. It is absolutely absurd that this board cut out all activities. First, the cost of funding the activities is pennies compared to our entire budget. Second, there is a huge drug problem in our district and on Long Island. Give kids constructive activities or they will find destructive activities.
Third, we can afford the activities (explained in next section). We are sending out the absolute wrong messages to kids when we say it is okay to cut clubs but not sports. Are educational clubs really less important than sports clubs? I know what he Al Bundy’s would say sports were cut. Yes they were but first, they weren’t eliminated and second because of restructuring of leagues it almost became a necessity.
9- We need honest financial accounting. The administration has fed residents bull for years. We have run huge surpluses every year the district has existed. Where has the money gone? First, Fred is right when he says we still have huge surpluses. The administration is lying. The administration plays a shell game to hide it. Too complex to explain here but basically they move it around or in and out to hide it. It is very much a shell game. Most of the board doesn’t have a clue how it works. The ones that do have a vested interest because of situations like relatives that work in the district. Also the district outright lies about how much state aide they will get in the budget. The state aide that is listed in the 2012-2013 budget is understated! The board lets the business manager get away with it. It becomes part of a built in surplus.
10- We need to get back to the basics of reading, writing and math! These three things are the backbone of our education. If are good at these three things they can succeed. Dump the fluff courses and let’s focus on what is important.
11-Let’s get back to a two track system that recognizes that all kids are not meant to go to college. So many kids are pushed toward community college and waste a year before they drop out. There should be two career tracks for kids. The trades and college is not for all and you can make a ton of money in the trades but you need to know what career paths exist.
12-The drug problem on Long Island and in our district is very real. Prescription drugs are all over and available. Designer drugs are rampant. We need to invest in programs to combat this. Drugs will destroy lives. Kids will die from overdoses. Lives and families will be ruined. Don’t think it can’t happen to you and your family. Don’t think if it happens to another family it can’t impact you. It does. Remember the Medford Pharmacy? CVS robbery? Increase in theft? We need to
deal with it.
13- We need to get real with other compensation besides teachers and administrators. There are non teaching personal that are very under paid granted. But there are some that are very over paid for starting positions. Here are two examples. Hiring a senior clerk typist at over $50,000 is absurd. Hiring a new custodian at $50,000 is absurd. You don’t make this as a starting salary anywhere, including new your city. By the way there is nothing senior about a senior clerk typist. It is not a high level job that requires any advanced skill. We need to get real. I am not saying custodians shouldn’t earn a decent pay but let’s be real on the starting salary. No one in the private sector would start at that level unless they had an advanced degree. Most college graduates won’t start at that salary yet we are paying typists to start at that rate. Absurd! We wonder why we are going broke?