Friday, January 22, 2010

I'VE GOT A FEELING (A Feeling Deep Inside, oh yeah)

It's been a tedious year to date.

Listening, reading, ruminating - trying to get a bead on things.

Here's all I have - so far. Just my opinion, mind you.

Our district's ability to finance their part of the Gates grant really is on shaky ground:
We finance our district on real estate based taxes.
The current assumption being that those home owners continue to be employed, make the mortgage payments including taxes - thus staving off foreclosure.

Believe it or not we are living among neighbors who are behind on their payments and in foreclosure or near it. Financial institutions are dragging their feet on the process hoping the job market improves. At some point in time they will have no choice but to pull the proverbial trigger since no one in the financial industry sees employment picking up within 3 years and some feel longer.

In reality while the generally accepted point of view is that our existing home sales are increasing no one is saying anything about this (for want of a better word) "shadow inventory" - those houses that should be on the market in foreclosure. Doing this jeopardizes the sales price of those homes currently for sale - we are still artificially propping up home values!

Without employed buyers having the 20% down payment, confident enough to make the 15-30 year mortgage commitment, these
homes will have to be sold at fire sale prices - driving down prices.

Lower sale price = lower taxes (tax base) = less money in the district coffer.

Less money from the state since residents are already cutting back on purchases thus affecting sales tax revenue distributed to school districts.


The easiest and quickest way to reduce overhead is to reduce labor costs.

Our district has frozen hiring as much as possible, dictated and enforced the teach-300-minutes-a-day clause in our contract, combined job responsibilities at supervisor and clerical levels. It seems we have reached critical mass. Look around, listen carefully at the degree of complaining about ROSSAC mix-ups your administration tries to correct.

They forced the "6 of 7" on the high school teachers and have the middle school teachers in the cross hairs. Elementary has lost aides. We all struggle to perform at the level we remember from 3 years ago. It takes it's toll. I feel it every single day (and night).

The district's attempt to create a second tier pay scale will take some real salesmanship and creative exploitation. No thinking experienced teacher with 5 years under their belt will agree to get off the current scale to enter the "chutes and ladders" formula that new hires will be fooled into accepting. There are far too many variables and negatives (at this point) to include here.

This will alienate any remaining CTA member but the district will continue the charade currently called "salary negotiation".

It will be 25 years before attrition clears those on the current pay scale. 25 years is an eternity to maintain something as flawed as the developing pay formula currently under construction.

Old timers (I think from the Raymond O. Sheldon era) told me about R.A.I.S.E. (Raise Achievement In Secondary Education) Bill, Compensatory Education, and H.C.A.T. Ever have a Sunshine State Standards discussion?

The difference is WE HAVE COMMITTED FUTURE DOLLARS to this grant much like the Feds have been doing for ages with deficit funding. Another difference is TEACHERS and SUPPORT STAFF will be bearing the burden for this one.


Can anyone point me to some supporting research/data that the evaluation instrument the district will purchase from some company, actually improves student performance consistently across all ages, cultures, and backgrounds?

Your salary could very well
depend on it.


Can the School Board please immediately add a clause to the standard superintendent contract that prohibits any superintendent and assistant superintendent under HCPS employment from being employed in any capacity by any corporation, subsidiary, company, or vendor doing business with the district for 5 years?

It is time.


Anonymous said...

I don't know a single high school colleague that doesn't feel they are just barely keeping up--right on the brink of tripping under the workload and falling to be flayyened by it. We all do much more paperwork that has little to do with real education and eother grade fewer assignments &/or less rgoroughly. Not good for the students. Not good for the teachers. Not good for Hillsborough's reputation. It has to stop, but, until folks at the top get real,and make the necessary changes, things will only get even worse. I'm so glad my childrn graduated from high school 6 years ago.THEY got a good education that has served them well.

Suzie Creamcheese said...

A previous post described our leadership as "promiscuous" - signing on to anything that comes with money and looks good on paper with a short-sighted, superficial regard for consequences.

We need a "Just Say No" or "Just Say Whoa" campaign to counteract the "Just Say Mo'" culture that has gripped them.

BTW: Am I the only one who sees a deeper and deeper theme emerging. Parents who are concerned that they got a better education than their kids?

Anonymous said...

I am ready to drop HCTA like a hot potato. Future negotiations are going to be all about "smoke and mirrors." Jean and Mary Ellen seem to be star-struck and have no idea how the rank and file are struggling under the weight of these unproven iniatives. I'm betting Mary Ellen will abandon ship midway thru this grant and most of the people who pursued the Gates grant will have "dropped" into retirement. We will be underfunded and overworked.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering where the parents are in all of this??? My students ask frquently why we have to study "this"--meaning Springboard. One would hope there was some communication between parents and students and parents would be screaming as loudly as teachers...

CTA DOES know what's going on with teachers--we're TELLING them!!! Bet you're right about ME, and her pals..with all their $$, they'll head for the hills and we'll be left STILL underfunded and overworked.