Thursday, April 22, 2010

Random Thoughts

It’s been busy at work so I only had time for a few random thoughts this week. Apologies in advance for the lack of continuity . . .

Great turn out at Tuesday night’s meeting, probably 300-350 people. Many were teachers and support staff but there were also parents and students in attendance, mostly there to show support for the swim program. It was great to see the students speak during public comment, and I hope their parents will make an effort to come to more meetings throughout the year.

The dreaded LIST should be culled down as Board members submitted this week a ranking for each of the 31 potential expense reductions. There are a number of items on that list that we should not give any serious consideration to, and removing them will make it easier to focus on the ones worthy of debate (not to mention relieve some of the tension running through our community).

The Strike Free motion was tabled on Tuesday night. Expect to see it back on the agenda soon.

I voted against the Tech School budget because I wasn’t convinced they did everything possible to reduce expenses. The original increase was higher but thanks to the work of our own Kim Koutsouradis, the numbers came down. If the Tech School staff had worked those numbers I would have felt more comfortable approving the budget. But kudos to Kouts!

Rumors have been floating around that our Board is divided over the issue of negotiations, and that some members are starting to weaken. Well, I can tell you first hand that there is no sign of any dissension in our ranks. We spoke about a variety of topics during executive session on Tuesday, and it was evident that this Board is focused, committed, and in sync.

At Monday’s Education Development meeting I heard three of our Reading Specialists talk about the newly implemented Balanced Literacy program in our elementary schools. Kudos to Dory Fitzgerald, Mary Beth Tecce and Terri Magerr for their enthusiastic support of this very worthy initiative.

If you want to read the Courier Times recap of Tuesday's meeting, click here.

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the rest of your week!



GerryG said...

So the Board is in sync. That is good news because there are rumors to the contrary. Maybe just our employees hoping for a collapse. Save our programs! Err on the side of the kids!

Pianomom said...

I noticed in one paragraph you said the board was united then in the following paragraph you complimented some teachers. I guess that is a coincidence but it says to me that the board respects what the teachers do but you are not going to cave in to their demands. These solidarity marches of theirs isn't going to help them with the public either.

Str8 Shutr said...

I just plugged your blog on the courier website William. Knowing that the board is together is a great comfort and everyone should know this. Thank you.

William O'Connor said...

Thank you Str8!

FeasterVillain said...

My sources are very dependable and told me something different than what you are saying about board unity but that was almost 3 weeks ago. I trust you. Promise us at the first sign of actions to the contrary that you will unleash HOLY HELL on them.

scrubb said...

The support workers are reading this update with their heads bowed in defeat. A board split was their last hope. They were told the board would never stay strong. They were wrong. They were told that certain political leaders would intervene and prevent outsourcing. They were wrong.
The next time you tie some kid's shoe you had better double knot it and make it a good one because it may be the last one you ever tie as an employee.

acs said...

I hope what you say is true but that means something changed. The only truth is the final vote however and I would be very surprised to see a 9-0 vote for outsourcing. I think it passes but i am betting 5-4. Also why no vote on banning teacher strikes?

JS said...

I agree that the ability for teachers to strike should be curtailed, but there is a definite downside.

Once you eliminate strikes you go to binding arbitration. Take North Penn as an example. They had three arbiters come up with an offer. The take the latest offers from either side and look at the merits. There is no rule that they have to find middle ground. Their chosen deal could be one or the other, or a combination. They are not allowed to (by law) take into account district finances. They can only look at the previous contract terms.

Now the NP arbiters came up with a deal that would have raised NP operating costs 17% over 5 years and raised taxes 25%. With binding arbitration that would be it, NP tax payers would just have to write a check and say thanks.

Be careful what you wish for sometimes. The alternatives aren't always a better choice.

csld said...

Its really sad how many people are getting enjoyment out of thinking people will be losing their jobs I am refering to your comment Scrubb.
Yes I have tied many shoes and wiped many faces over the years and I will continue to do so .You have the perfect name.I am sorry William but this comment although it may not make it on here it gave me pleasure saying it.

scrubb said...

I apologize csld. When I wrote that comment I had your fearless leader in mind. I forget that not all of you are like her.

csld said...

Scrubb thank you and I apologize for my comment .At no time has any of the union been mine or my co-workers leaders. I know many workers that would of loved to been seperated from this union along time ago.
I just want this to be over with just let me know who I am workng for and that will be fine by me.William are you able to tell me when that decision will be made.

William O'Connor said...

To Let's Be Practical,

Since you are reporting a rumor I cannot confirm, I am omitting your comment. However I did want to address your concerns.

I am not defending needless spending but we must be realistic on what is the cause of our financial predicament. I'm sure you can find many instances of spending that you and I may not agree with, but it cannot compare to the millions of dollars (yes, MILLIONS) that we spend every year on the inflated costs of our very expensive contracts.

Also keep one other thing in mind. We can find pockets of wasted spending and fix them on the spot. But fixing these contracts can only happen when they are up for negotiation. That is why all effort must go towards these negotiations now.

William O'Connor said...


The Board is awaiting word from the Fact Finder before we decide on next steps. I'm sure all this waiting is taking a toll on you and your co-workers. Hopefully we'll hear back from the FF by end of this month.

LetsBePractical said...

Mr. O'Connor, I respect your intentions in not wanting to print potential rumors. Although, I have that information from a very reliable source, I will let that concern go and will retract the request to post it. That being said, I don't believe my concerns about the Business Manager's credentials are rumor--as he is a Public School Employee, and the taxpayers are entitled to this information. Public School Employees' salaries and credentials are public information and are posted in various public records sites, so I am hopeful that this post will make the cut. I find it troubling that he does not even have a Bachelor's Degree, yet he is essentially the financial gatekeeper for the entire District. I am honestly curious to see if other taxpayers are aware of this.

William O'Connor said...

LBP, I think most people who post here are aware of Mr. Paradise's credentials. I understand the concern but also want to point out to you that he wins awards and acknowledgements every year for the quality of his work. He has demonstrated an ability to do his job well.

If you have an issue with someone making that kind of money without a 4-year degree, then there isn't anything I can tell you that will make you feel better. On the other hand if you're concern is if the person is able to do the job, then I can assure you Mr. P is more than capable.