Sunday, July 31, 2011

How we got where we are Part XV (April 2008)

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, part 15

April 7, 2008: The April 2008 Business/Finance Committee meeting featured a presentation on the District's finances. Anyone surprised by this year's layoffs and those to follow should read this carefully.

The 3rd slide poses keystone questions including: “Do we have enough resources to support Excellence for All?” and “How much do we need to reduce our budget by?” and “How do we set priorities for allocating resources?”

The 5th slide points to one of the problems with resource allocation, that PPS spends roughly 33% of all of its resources on support services (and this is even before Mr. Roosevelt would create the Office of Teacher Effectiveness).

The 6th slide highlights the adequacy of Pittsburgh's resources by demonstrating that PPS spent $4,000 more than 15 other PA school districts with more than 10,000 kids.

The 7th slide further illustrates the adequacy of resources by comparing PPS' cost per pupil with a national selection of districts, with Pittsburgh again spending far more per pupil than other similarly sized districts, such as Milwaukee.

Slide 8 is a warning that state and local revenues were not and will not be growing quickly.

Slide 9 pictures the growth in expenditures over the last five years. The commentary around slide 10 features employee benefits as a trend that would continue, led by PSERS employer contributions (which were expected to grow from single digits to nearly 30% in less than a decade) and health care (which doubles roughly every 10 years). In fact, slide 11 charts in absolute dollars the benefit increase in five years of nearly $20 million.

Slide 12 draws attention to the operational inefficiency of running so many small, under enrolled high schools, with the utility cost per pupil at said high schools being nearly three times that of other PPS locations on average.

Slide 13 shows that staff reductions did not keep pace with enrollment decline.

Slide 14 illustrates the local debt burden growing, albeit slowly.

Slides 15 to 19 highlight a long range financial forecast where the only way to stabilize the budget in the long run was to trim the payroll by 10% for two years in a row and then by 3% thereafter.

Slide 20's summary points include “Expenses are growing faster than revenues”; “Continued enrollment decline fuels excess capacity”; “Underutilized facilities create inefficient cost structures”; “Our 10 year outlook requires strong stewardship and
prioritization of spending demands including restraint...”

Slide 21 implored the Superintendent and Board to reduce costs in the fashion suggested by slides 15 and 19, concluding that “By imposing greater discipline, we will spend proportionately more on the things that matter, yet still reduce the overall size of our budget and make substantial progress toward controlling our cost per pupil and delivering Excellence for All.”

Not surprisingly, Roosevelt would eliminate the practice of holding a monthly Business/Finance Committee meeting. It's no wonder that our former CFO Berdnik was silenced to prevent him from announcing, repeatedly, “I told you so.”

The actions of the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration after seeing the next 10 years laid out for them speaks much louder than words:

1. More capital and operating dollars spent on small, boutique schools, such as Uprep and Sci Tech;
2. More spending on administrative costs, such as the creation of the Office of Teacher Effectiveness and what seems like an annual event, the reorganization of Human Resources;
3. More Broad residents;
4. More PELAs becoming “directors” or placed in created central office slots;
5. More chasing one-time or short-term revenues (Broad, Gates and TIF) that carry huge local contributions over time, despite the fact that PPS already has plenty of revenue per pupil.
6. More Communications and Marketing to numb our senses and pain."


Questioner said...

One of the most striking parts of this series... with information that A+ and the local media should not ignore.

Anonymous said...

Did Berdnik prepare the slides or did someone else do it? He seemed to be on top of things which is why he had to go. He probably refused to go along with Roosevelt's juggling the books so to speak.

The yearly HR reorganization is just smoke and mirrors to get rid of who they want to and bring in Broad people, etc.

Anonymous said...

They were Berdnik's slides.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Can the slides be put onto SlideShare site or something similar?

If I had them sent to me,, I'd post them in a public place and forward the link.

alldone too said...

During Excellence for All parent meetings a Dad from Dice would invariably get up and ask money questions wanting to know how initiatives could be sustained and challenging how money was being spent. He always had his research done and facts straight. PURE often did the same at these meetings. Here is the question, now that people like the Dice Dad have graduated with their last kids who will replace him?

Anonymous said...

Wasted resources, did anyone notice that the PELA principals are being mentored by non-Pela principals and that should say a lot. Broad, PELA, Gates, Roosevelt, non educators trying to tell those of us that work in the field how to do the work. I would never tell a doctor or an attorney how to do his/her job. Why does eveyone think that they can tell the educator what to do. When was the last time they spent more than five minutes in a classroom.

Anonymous said...

Today's Trib. re: period 10

The article says it is federal money funding it for 3 years.

Anonymous said...

Re: Period 10
Just wonder how the media end up doing these kinds of stories. How do they first hear about something, is it a press release or some tip?

Anonymous said...

With all the money paid out for PR/communications, I'm sure PPS puts it out to the media.

Anonymous said...

I made a stab at explaining to a neighbor today the new Director positions in schools. When I was done she asked if there would be a new class of PELAs this year. I didn't know, but surely, there can't be, right? If so it is reasonable that where we are going is even worse than where we are.

Veteran Teacher said...

Be aware that a Period 10 course is no where near as rigorous as a regular course; it is perhaps 1/3 as rigorous.

The goal of Period 10 is not to educate the student. The goal is to pass the student.

Anonymous said...

Ditto for summer school, Student Achievement Center, night school, special 5's (5th yr. seniors at SAC), etc. PPS has more programs to pass the "students" along.

Anonymous said...

7:04 and 8:28 - Each of you is exactly on target. These are a way of "passing" a student. The students in these programs are NOT educated. There is little substance, little rigor, little relevance to standards across content areas, little time, little depth and little effort put forth by anyone. These are "get over" options for students and they are well aware of that fact.

Anonymous said...

Is period 10 exempt from from the scrutiny "normal" classes have?

Anonymous said...

Period 10 is such a great example of the kind of unsustainable, initially grant-funded program that Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss couldn't get enough of.

Allow me to explain the math using the numbers reported in the article.

The program cost is $1 million (more I'm sure since federal grants permit only tiny indirect costs, so the fully loaded costs are probably higher). Let's split that into two and call it $500,000 per semester.

So, the article indicates the program served 200 kids?

Guess what? That's $2,500 for a single period class for one semester!

In some parts of the state $2,500 is 25% of a school district's total cost per pupil. Even if it was theist effective, rigorous coursework available, it is neither sustainable in Pittsburgh, nor replicable in other districts.

Anonymous said...

The Westinghouse Alumni Association has done such a community service with the "How we got..." series.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Any word on when the proposed school closings will be announced?

Anonymous said...

Funny you should ask. The PG reprots a news conference will be held at CAPA today at 2:00.