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Thread: John's Open Letter to the School Committee

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  1. #1
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    Mar 2008
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    Default John's Open Letter to the School Committee

    Below is an open letter to the School Committee, with what I think are some critcal points and some critical acition items they need to consider prior to voting on the administration's budget draft.

    Open Letter to our School Committee:

    You have before you a $30 million dollar draft budget. The room for error in a budget of this size is enormous and the amount of open vetting it has received prior to arriving on your desk is almost nil.

    With that as a background, coupled with the fact that there is almost no breakdown and the “detailed” version is just 10 pages long – roughly $3,000,000 per page – you have a heavy responsibility before you. This is always the case this time of year, but this time, considering the $90 million dollar high school project and the imploded economy, the effort you put into scrutinizing this budget will have a far reaching impact on every Wayland resident, in particular, the students.

    I believe that it is your duty as elected officials to ask probing questions and demand detailed breakdowns of the very general and scant information you have in the budget before you. To base a decision on the 10 pages you have been presented would be seriously negligent. In this technological day and age, you should have access to a detailed breakdown of each of the general items. It will take some time and you may need to lose some sleep this week, but this is precisely what you have been elected to do. Indeed, if you don’t put in extra long hours scrutinizing every bit of detail that you can on this budget and demanding far more detailed breakdowns to gain a comprehensive understanding of what you are agreeing to, you will be doing a disservice to your friends and neighbors and fellow residents of Wayland - most significantly, to our children.

    How does the Administration go unscathed time and time again while cuts that significantly affect our children make their way into the budget? While it may be easier to approve generalized cuts that don't have a face and name associated with them than to lay off a particular employee in the Administration, you as Wayland parents need to have the courage to do this and need to recognize the inherent bias and conflict of interest that comes with a budget that was drafted by the Administration itself. Indeed, you can second guess the administration. In fact, you must.

    Important points to consider:


    • FedEx laid off 1800 managers and administrators today (and presumably will still find a way to deliver packages tomorrow)

    • Wayland has more administrators per student than ANY of our peer towns (see chart)

    • This budget has 7 teachers slated for lay-offs, but no administrators

    • This budget has $1,000,000 of cuts that are close to the students, and only $20,000 that are not

    • Dr. Burton has 3 secretaries

    • Brad Crozier and Joy Buhler each have their own secretaries

    I have removed the line about Joy's secretary $112,000 for the time being, awaiting clarification. There is some ambiguity in the budget books about whether her assistant(s) are 1, 2 or 3 people, and whether this is 1,2 or 3 salaries

    • The combined salaries of our 3 top administrators amounts to nearly a half million dollars

    • Since FY08 our top 6 administrators (all at the Central Office) have enjoyed annual raises which have pushed their salaries up over 8% of what they were that year, at an annual cost to taxpayers that would easily cover a teacher's annual salary.

    • In that same time period, 3,499,303 unemployment claims have been filed in Massachusetts, with new ones still coming every week.

    ______________________________

    You have a duty to ask for and consider a detailed breakdown of the items on the draft budget you've been given. If it is not your job to question the Administration, otherwise, why even have a School Committee?

    On behalf of all Wayland residents with school age children, thank you.

    John Flaherty
    Last edited by John Flaherty; 01-11-2010 at 05:31 PM.

  2. #2
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    Mar 2008
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    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path
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    Default Interesting points

    John, you seem have here a crystallization of the lobsided spending.
    What I am most confused about is the willingness to cut close to the students and not cut close to the administrators.
    Unfortunately for secretaries, they are a dying breed and in the 'real world' fewer and fewer of them exist... they are shared or they are cut. More and more executives are self sufficient and do many of the functions that they used to delegate.

    I believe the goal of the administration should be to do every possible to maintain the teachers and those things which directly affect the students. When the SC meeting on 1/4/10 took place, the students were in angst over loosing specific teachers. Would have those same students showed up with the same angst if administrators were cut or their help was cut.

    The administration and the SC says that the business sector and the private sector and somehow 'different' and the rules of business don't apply. I think this is code for "we get away with it so thats just the way it is".

    Your open letter needs to be in the Wayland Crier ASAP.
    Contact Michael Wyner mwyner@cnc.com and send him this text and ask for an op ed piece.

    Thanks for doing this John.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    448

    Default The fun continues...

    Tonight at 7pm, the budget talks continue.

    If you have an opinion on how your money is being spent, be sure to attend.

    Also, this may be when we learn about those errant emails, though there's nothing on the SC agenda about it, so maybe not. Or maybe they'll just talk about that in Executive Session.


    .
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    117

    Default

    Please, does anybody know if the school committee said or did anything about the school's budget in their Monday night meeting?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    448

    Default Budget

    Don,

    The final budget meeting is Tonight (Thursday).
    Be sure to show up and express yourself if you have any opinions on the budget.

    Here's my synopsis of Monday's meeting:

    Towards the beginning of the meeting FinCom member Cherry Karlson dropped by to say she found $219,000 that could be added back into the school budget.

    Before getting to the regular budget, the SC discussed the Laptop Initiative, where they will seek $750,000 in additional funding (over and above their normal budget) for laptops for 9th Graders and some technology upgrades. Even after much discussion and admission of the fact that they weren't really sure if this was a good idea, they decided to go for it based on Jeff's reminder that they’d already said back in November we were going to ask for this, so what they hell? If we don't spend it on this, we'll spend it on something else related to technology. (my words, not his.) With that, we all marched downstairs to the FinCom meeting where the SC pleaded their case to ask for $750,000 for laptops and other technology. Not sure what happens next with that. I guess FinCom decides whether or not to allow this on the ballot.

    They began their discussion on administration with Jeff turning to Gary and asking what impact it would have on administration if there were some cuts in their department. Gary said things would slow down and some things wouldn’t get done, (kind of like any place of employment where there are layoffs). As Deb so succinctly put it, "When you lay someone off, the work doesn't go away".
    But there are two important things to consider:
    If the layoffs happen with teachers instead of administrators, the same rules still apply - it will be more work for fewer people, but in this case it will also have a direct impact on the kids.

    Gary’s justification for needing 3 secretaries is that each one specializes in a different area. This doesn’t really explain the need, since presumably any one of them could be cross-trained to perform other functions. He said that one of them fills out about 600 CORI forms a year.
    I don't know what's involved in doing a CORI form or how long it would take to process one, but doing 600 of these over the course of 52 weeks does not sound particularly daunting to me. Gary didn't give any other examples, but if he has 3 secretaries, Brad has one and apparently Joy has 3, I'm willing to bet you could cut those 7 positions down to 3 and the world wouldn't end.
    Maybe Gary would have to learn how to fill out a CORI form himself. Sorry! These are tough times. It's either that or we lay off teachers. Personally, I'd rather Gary sit there late into the night doing paperwork than a teacher get laid off. Don't forget, that he makes $185,000 per year, compared to the $66,000 average that our teachers get. I'm not trying to be crude or disrespectful (their salaries are public information), but how can they possibly justify laying off teachers and leaving the administration virtually untouched?

    Business Administrator, Joy Buhler was not happy with the fact that her 3 full time people were being cut down to 2.5, and that she would have to pick up the slack. But this was not a new cut – it was already built in to the budget draft they were reviewing, as part of the $22,000 being cut from Administration, compared to $1,000,000 being cut in areas much closer to the students – teachers, aids, guidance counselors, etc.

    As this chart clearly illustrates, we have more administrators per student than ANY of our peer towns, in some cases, by a substantial margin. This is unconscionable.

    In the end, I don’t think anything got fully resolved or finalized on Monday. At one point, it was looking like they were going to decide to not make cuts to Administration and move on, based on Louis’ suggestion, but Deb and Jeff said no, they don’t have to finalize that yet – they have until Thursday.

    One of my pet peeves is that it’s always been hard to read the budget, so in case I’m wrong about any of this (and I’m sure Jeff will correct me if I am), you can view the 10 page “detailed” version of the budget, along with another 28 pages of Personnel and such here.

    The meeting is tonight at 7pm at the Town Building.


    .
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    52

    Default CORI checks

    It is doubtful that a full-time employee needs to be in charge of coordinating CORI checks. I filled one out in less than three minutes last October at WMS for substitute teaching. I sent it into Central Office. I called to see how long it would take. The employee told me that she had a bunch of them to process and that it should come back in 2-3 weeks. I received notification from Central Office on January 6th that my CORI had been approved. Tax forms also were included.

    I don't know what steps were necessary in forwarding my CORI application or how many the employee had to do, but it seems to me like a long time to receive noticiation.

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