Tuesday, March 10, 2009

$200k down, $13.8 million to go

Damn economy!

When you join the school board, you have high hopes of making a positive, meaningful difference in the lives of students. During last night's Strategic Action meeting, it felt like we were doing anything but that. Unfortunately money is the issue of the day, and we had to start making cuts to programs and initiatives. So what was cut from next year's budget, you ask? . . .

* No more mid day Kindergarten bus runs (savings = $85k)
* Assess "energy use reimbursement" fees for organizations utilizing our facilities (savings = $112k)
* No implementation of full day Kindergarten (no cost savings since it was not yet budgeted, but this move avoids increased expenditures)

Other considerations . . .
* Increase in-class time for Lead Teachers
* Assess student participation fees for extra curricular activities
* Reduce daily bus runs by increasing walking distance requirements
* Eliminate the 5:15pm late bus run
Perhaps most frustrating of all was that it took us 2-1/2 hours last night to agree upon savings that amounted to just under $200k, and we were only able to get through 17 of the 70+ cost savings ideas we are reviewing. This is going to be a long, painful process, and we're not even close to the finish line yet.

There was a pretty large crowd on hand for the meeting, with most of the attendees being senior citizens - many of them from the group who met in Lower South last week. During public comment they voiced their support of the Board's stand in the contract negotiations, and expressed their desire for a flat budget - yup, you got it - ZERO increase ... NADA ... BUPKIS! Sorry to disappoint those folks, but that's not going to happen. Or as my friends from the South would say, that dog won't hunt.

You can click here to read the Courier Times recap of last night's meeting. And just in case you're interested, here's another irate letter to the editor.

Our next Strategic Action meeting is Monday, March 16th, where I'm sure there will be more debate, anxiety and painful budget cuts. Sounds like fun, heh? See ya' there.


JS said...

With respect to athletic teams you could save several thousand dollars more by cutting Boys Lacrosse.

When Girls Lacrosse was added several years ago, it was to make Neshaminy Title IX compliant. Till that point (since the disbanding of Gymnastics) there had been 1 more male sport than female. Girls Lacrosse made it even, but Howard Wilson (an avid Boys Lacrosse fan) pushed through the inclusion of Boys Lacrosse. Thus the District again was out of compliance.

Sometime in the near future the District will undergo a Title IX audit, and it will show we are not compliant. We can save the money and hassle and drop the extra boys team (sadly Boys Lacrosse was the last added). If not we must ADD an additional Girls team, which is more money, plus the problem of finding one to add at all.

Boys Lacrosse can be a seperate club like Ice Hockey. Save the money on coaches, equipment, officials.

I must be living in Jersey said...

Even if what you're saying is true I don't think the board will want to start cutting one activity versus another. If they do that they'll be accused of favoritism and irate parents and students will be lining up at meetings to cry foul. The board must appear to be fair and consistent for this exercise. If they cut one activity, they cut them all. If they charge a participation fee to one activity, they charge them all.

It's times like these that I'm glad I'm not on the board. It's so much easier to second guess you Mr. O'Connor :-O

JS said...

Jersey, I don't think you get it. They won't have a choice. It will either be cut one or add another one. How can we add one when we don't have the money for what we have already.

There is no favoritism, it's Title IX law. Not sure if you understand it, but the District will have to make one of those choices. It's not a "we'll keep it like it is" possibility.

I must be living in Jersey said...

By your own admission this violation has gone on for a few years now. I'm not saying that the district shouldn't rectify the problem. My point is that they won't do it now because this isn't "let's clean up our Title IX problem" time, it's "we have to cut the budget without the parents killing us" time. I agree with you that at some point the board should address the problem. You and I just disagree on when.

JS said...

Jersey I will clarify again. When I stated earlier that "in the near future" the district will have a Title IX audit, I meant DAYS. From the last I heard some time this week.

It was spurned by a situation with Basketball this winter, but none the less the audit is here.

You can drive around for years with out a seat bealt, but you get pulled over you have no choice but to put it on. The district is about to get pulled over.

Am I not being clear about this?

I must be living in Jersey said...

ok ok, JS. I get it. The audit is imminent and the district will have to act accordingly.

Jose said...

there is much more that will suffer than just lacrosse and it isn't right. i know some programs will get cut and there are no easy answers but our children need these activities to round out their education. it's too easy for senior citizens with no children in the district or no concerns for future property values to expect there is no tax increase. if we do not maintain our programs in neshaminy the district will lose all value and our properties will be worthless.

nostradamus said...

I predict that a Neshaminy School Board member will contact the Morrisville superintendent to see if they can take our students.

Not really.

William O'Connor said...

The following comment submitted by Reality Check has been edited for content.

JS,So please tell us...Are you closely connected to someone who works in the athletic office or are you one of the previous Athletic Director's loyal supporters. How are you privy to information such as when Title IX hearings are taking place? Sounds like the old pipes aren't the only thing leaking at the high school.

William O'Connor said...

The following comment submitted by JS was edited for content

I just know how to keep my ears open. It's amazing the conversations you can pick up away from the school buildings.

I support the job that Sheila Murphy did while the AD for Neshaminy.

I again hope that anyone who reads my posts thinks I am for just cutting a sport to cut one. No, but if it's a choice between having to add another sport (aka spend more money we don't have) or eliminate a sport, I'm sorry I'll have to go with eliminating a sport.