Should the school board accept money to save jobs/curriculum?

chris1gill

<a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.
Joined
Sep 2, 1999
I was surprised to read of this local story. It seems that parents are asked to pay for things like bussing & extracurricular activities, but they won't accept money to save a Spanish program for grades 2-6??? It seems to me this is the age children SHOULD learn it... if the parents came up with the money to save the program, more power to them!! My DH says they should use the money to oust the school board & replace it with people who will actually care about the children. The children afterall, are the only people (along with seven staff members) who lose out here... It's a shame, but perhaps that's jjust me... So, should they take the money or no???



http://www.boston.com/news/local/ma...town_rejects_380000_from_parents_for_program/

Town rejects $380,000 from parents for program
By Lisa Keen and Tracy Jan, Globe Correspondent And Globe Staff | May 27, 2005

WELLESLEY -- Upset that voters' defeat of a tax override eliminated their young children's Spanish immersion program, Wellesley parents opened their checkbooks and delivered $380,000 to the school board to restore it.

It would seem like a gift any school system facing cuts would embrace. But members of the School Committee refused the offer this week, saying they didn't want to create a school system where affluent parents can raise enough money to save a particular program.

In cash-strapped school systems around the state, it is common for parents to raise money for extracurricular activities, equipment, and supplies when needs arise. But the amount of money raised in Wellesley and the fact that it was for an academic, rather than extracurricular, program are unusual, said Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

He defended the Wellesley School Committee's decision, saying accepting money for an academic program could set a dangerous precedent.

''We frequently see school committees thinking very carefully before they take money, especially when it's targeted," Koocher said. ''Otherwise, advocates for particular disciplines can then go out and raise money; other disciplines which are no less worthy don't get supported because they don't have wealthy benefactors."

On May 10, Wellesley voters considered two overrides for education-related tax increases, with about 60 teachers' jobs at stake. The first option, a $3.6 million increase overall, would have kept the 60 teachers, the Spanish program with seven more teachers, and a high school librarian; voters rejected it by 17 votes. Under that plan, property taxes would have been raised on average $329 a year, a 5 percent increase for a taxpayer whose annual bill is now $6,031.

The second override was to raise taxes by $2.6 million a year and preserve the 60 teachers' jobs but not the Spanish program and its seven teaching positions. That proposal passed.

Under the smaller override, the average tax bill will increase $240 a year, or about 4 percent. Along with a $198 tax increase that would have occurred even if both overrides had failed, next year's average tax bill will climb $438, to $6,469.

Suzanne Littlefield, the School Committee chairwoman, said Wellesley schools have accepted private contributions in the past, primarily for computers and playground equipment.

''I had a very difficult time accepting private funding for public school teacher salary," Littlefield said. ''It was crossing a line."

She and other board members said they liked the popular Spanish program, but could no longer afford what is considered a luxury in many school systems. The school system recruited native speakers of Spanish who spoke only Spanish in the classroom, so the children could learn through an immersion approach. The classes were offered in grades 2-5 in the district's elementary schools and in sixth grade at the middle school.

Bowing to parents' wishes would have sent a bad message to voters, said Gerald Murphy, a School Committee member.

In the future, voters might have been willing to vote against any tax increase because they thought parents or others would step forward and pay for programs slated to be cut, Murphy said.

''The voters have spoken," he said. ''I don't agree with their decision. . . . But they spoke."

Parents who packed the School Committee meeting on Tuesday said they saw the program as a necessity, not an extra.

''Kids need foreign language to compete in today's economy," said parent Susan Ryan.

Dorene Higgons, a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society, and Debbi Young, a consultant and former manager at IBM, co-led the fund-raising effort. Higgons said they were baffled by some residents' objections to the Spanish program.

''One person said, 'I didn't have Spanish when I was in school,' " Higgons said. ''Well, we didn't have computers when I was in school either, but would anyone really suggest we not have computers in our schools today?"

The two mothers enlisted a parent at every elementary school to serve as fund-raising coordinator. Some people gave as little as $5; a private foundation gave $7,000, the largest donation, they said.

Young said her daughter's desire to continue Spanish in the sixth grade motivated her involvement in the fund-raising.

''Parents recognize there is a need in the world for kids to be able to speak other languages," she said.

She and Higgons said they were starting to return the checks they had collected because they didn't believe they had any alternatives.

The state Department of Education has no opinion on the board's decision to refuse the parents' help, said Heidi Perlman, a department spokeswoman.

''It's entirely a local decision," she said. ''We can't step in."
 

KirstenB

<font color=deeppink>Mom to "the nibbler"<br><font
Joined
Aug 18, 1999
I agree with the school board. They just can't accept $$ with strings attached, it sets a bad precedent. Our school board did a large across-the-board cut, and a bunch of parents from the gifted center wanted gifted funding restored. It was restored, but the cut in special-ed funding stuck. That still bugs me.
 

Galahad

.....an appointment
Joined
May 22, 2000
This is a huge frustration. We have had similar problems here. State law says budgets can't mix. If they have leftover capital budget (buildings and stuff) they can't spend it on teachers and instruction. Further, if a teacher slot is cut, we can't raise money to fill it. Here it is because of the union contract (another example of collective bargaining shooting themselves in the foot). A bunch of bureaucratic nonsense.

The unwillingness to be flexible at all will hasten the demise of public education, to the detriment of all of us, IMO.
 

chris1gill

<a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.
Joined
Sep 2, 1999
Galahad, I totally agree with everything you said!!!

IMHO, parents should be able to fund raise for whatever they want... if the community is in support of it, it will get benefactors...

Our school got rid of the gifted & talented program a couple of years ago.... Now we have to pay 18 grand a kid to educate them :( I can tell you, that the public funding is NOT spread equitably for any group of children. I say they take all the money given to the budget, subtract out operating costs & then split the remaining amount between the number of children in the district & spend that PER child... for each and every child.... parents should make up the difference if they are unhappy with the program their child is receiving... This of course will NEVER happen... :(
 

swilphil

Feels trapped in a Brady Bunch episode at the Poly
Joined
Jun 7, 2003
It sounds like all the elementary schools in the district were being treated equally, so I really don't see what the problem is. I know the district where I worked has a foundation, but it doesn't really raise that much money. Individual schools from very wealthy areas were finally allowed to raise their own money, and they were allowed to keep things like foreign language teachers and school counselors, plus have extremely nice playgrounds. On the other hand, the poorer schools had those positions cut and make due with average playgrounds.
 

teacherforhi

Pit Stop!<br><font color=blue>My cats allow me to
Joined
Jan 25, 2004
I say they take all the money given to the budget, subtract out operating costs & then split the remaining amount between the number of children in the district & spend that PER child... for each and every child.... parents should make up the difference if they are unhappy with the program their child is receiving... This of course will NEVER happen... :(

This shouldn't be done because, according to law, every child is guaranteed a FREE and APPROPRIATE education (FAPE). A child with a hearing disability may need an interpreter or oral facilitator. This, of course, will require spending more money on that child. Are you saying that it should be the parents' responsibility to provide that interpreter because it requires a cost above and beyond the average child?

Having said that, I don't agree with cutting gifted programs either. School systems should strive to educate every child.
 

golfgal

DIS Cast Member<br><font color=green>When did vacu
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
The parents could put that money into a bank account and start a program on their own. They could hire a teacher after school and start their own program. They could rent space from the school (although the school would probably let them do that for free). Then they could get around any union/legal issues with schools accepting money from parents that way. With that much money banked, they could offer the course for a while, charging a small fee and paying the teacher out of the interest created on the principal amount.
 

Alicnwondrln

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 8, 2003
whe my son started kinder, this year there was sup to be 3 classes. The town failed to pass an over ride for funding for the school and a new building which i will say the town needs

they cut down to 2 classes and i has been a disaster 25 to 30 per class with a teacher and an aide
theya re recco that MANY kids from each class repeat the year
yeah i wonder why
many of us tried to raise $ people were like oh we cant the school wont take it
and the PTO or PTA wanted nothing to do it
they just wanted to do a chairty golf thing and all the regular activities they usually fund for
i was vey disappointed
the town should have taken the money


kids should not have to suffer and miss out on stuff like that
it will make them better students and help them in this ever changing world!!!!
 

bananiem

It's like Annie Bananie only it's just Bananie M.<
Joined
Aug 1, 2000
But that's just a band-aid. What happens the next year? There's still only money for 2 classes. Do the parents raise the money again, every year? As long as it's being funded somehow, it's awfully hard to convince voters to vote Yes on a referendum to get THEM to pay for it.
 

Charade

<font color=royalblue>I'm the one on the LEFT side
Joined
Jan 2, 2005
Don't get me started on school taxes...

My escrow just went up by $80/month because of a tax increase (that we didn't get to vote on).

$3,600,000 / 68 = $52,941 average per person (this is probably total compensation (health care, etc)).

I wonder if the taxpayers income went up 4 or 5 percent?

I also wonder why schools are always "cash strapped" when people are paying over $6000 a year in just school taxes?

And that doesn't include any state or federal money the school system gets.
 

momof2inPA

<font color=6600FF>DIS Veteran<br><font color=FF33
Joined
Dec 5, 2002
Charade said:
Don't get me started on school taxes...

My escrow just went up by $80/month because of a tax increase (that we didn't get to vote on).

I live in PA but close to the Ohio line. It irks me that they get to actually "vote" on their school levies. In PA, the lords of the school board speak, and we pay. The system of checks and balances is that we vote for the school board, but by the time elections come around, everyone just votes for their distant cousins or whoever runs the local burger place or built their house that has some name recognition.
 

Charade

<font color=royalblue>I'm the one on the LEFT side
Joined
Jan 2, 2005
momof2inPA said:
I live in PA but close to the Ohio line. It irks me that they get to actually "vote" on their school levies. In PA, the lords of the school board speak, and we pay. The system of checks and balances is that we vote for the school board, but by the time elections come around, everyone just votes for their distant cousins or whoever runs the local burger place or built their house that has some name recognition.

Well that sure is a "pisser", isn't it? :rotfl2:

But I agree. :faint:
 

Galahad

.....an appointment
Joined
May 22, 2000
Charade said:
Don't get me started on school taxes...

My escrow just went up by $80/month because of a tax increase (that we didn't get to vote on).

$3,600,000 / 68 = $52,941 average per person (this is probably total compensation (health care, etc)).

I wonder if the taxpayers income went up 4 or 5 percent?

I also wonder why schools are always "cash strapped" when people are paying over $6000 a year in just school taxes?

And that doesn't include any state or federal money the school system gets.

I'm as conservative as they get and let me tell you - schools are not even remotely overfunded. It costs a lot to run a school. Even cutting out bureaucracy, which needs to be done, will not solve the problem. Teachers are under paid, class sizes are too big, and we don't take the problem seriously, IMO. All the economic development in the world will be worthless unless we have a strong public education system everywhere.
 

Charade

<font color=royalblue>I'm the one on the LEFT side
Joined
Jan 2, 2005
Galahad said:
I'm as conservative as they get and let me tell you - schools are not even remotely overfunded. It costs a lot to run a school. Even cutting out bureaucracy, which needs to be done, will not solve the problem. Teachers are under paid, class sizes are too big, and we don't take the problem seriously, IMO. All the economic development in the world will be worthless unless we have a strong public education system everywhere.

Maybe across the board they aren't but they just built a new HS in an adjoining district that topped 100 million dollars once all the budget overruns were added in. They were calling it the "Taj Mahal". Italian tiles... The AVERAGE salary in that district is about $90K and they don't pay anything toward their medical.
 

swilphil

Feels trapped in a Brady Bunch episode at the Poly
Joined
Jun 7, 2003
Charade said:
Maybe across the board they aren't but they just built a new HS in an adjoining district that topped 100 million dollars once all the budget overruns were added in. They were calling it the "Taj Mahal". Italian tiles... The AVERAGE salary in that district is about $90K and they don't pay anything toward their medical.

Are you sure the AVERAGE teacher salary is $90K? Around here it's probably half that, and the teacher pay tops out at $63K IF you have taught more than 25 years and have your doctorate degree (which very few teachers can afford to get). And this is one of the highest paid district's in the state. The $90K sounds more like an administrator's salary.

Charade said:
And that doesn't include any state or federal money the school system gets.

Also most states set the school funding formula, but the money itself comes
from the local property taxes. There really isn't any additional state money. The federal money usually only comes from grants, and many of those are being cut.
 









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