Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's behind the cuts

From the PG, a letter headed "Weakening schools":

"Sadly, while the public school district has had to reduce its budget for next year by $11.1 million, or 2.1 percent, Dilworth faces a budget cut for next year of nearly 15 percent."

Read more:

- Budget problems are based on cuts in state funding of education, but as this letter illustrates the reduction in money from the state only partially explains PPS's financial crunch. There would have been serious problems state cuts or not.


Anonymous said...

What's behind the cuts? The bottom line is to keep ALL individuals who are administrative and NOT in the classroom employed. Period. End of story.

We'll cut know...the people who actually work with kids.

We'll end programs.

We'll close schools.

We'll do long as administrative positions are safe.


This is education?

Questioner said...

Anonymous wrote the following (name calling deleted):

It's the Roosevelt legacy. There should be a third party audit of everything that man touched in the short time he was here. If anyone did their research, they would find a recently retired "data" specialist in the District who will attest to the fact that she was asked to manipulate numbers on the PSSAs, and THAT, my friends, is just the beginning. It's time to call [ ] back and make him face the music of a mess he created and that his cronies continue to perpetuate.

Questioner said...

Maybe the state needs to set a limit on the ratio of administrative/consulting FTE's to classroom teachers.

Anonymous said...

Questioner, maybe under Rendell. With a political hack like Tommy Corbett in charge, a man so anti teacher and public education, I am sure that there is great glee as to the demise of PPS as a whole in Harrisburg.

Anonymous said...

Let me add something about the PFT.
For whatever reason, the strength of the union began receding years ago, even under Al Fondy. Tarka completely gave away the farm and Nina is a lot like Lane in this regard, simply maintaining the same stance. It is truly remarkable that all of these things one reads here--and all of the things that are going on in this district which we teachers hear but is not made public---is going on without strong union response.
For the record, we all know unions have been vilified. I point to Tacoma often as the last bastion of what a real union is all about: solidarity, the idea that there is safety in numbers. That's the only idea that will fight tyranny. A united front that screams we won't take it anymore. It unites for walk outs. It unites for wildcat strikes. It tells judges that, like in the 1970's, there are 2500 of us. Come and arrest all of us and stick your injunction.
This is the only way to beat back central administration and to wipe the smirks off of the faces of PELAs and their brethren.

This is NOT within the personality profiles of weaklings like Tarka, Esposito, van Horn, Hileman and the gang.

And yet, whether it would be popular with parents or local doesn't matter. It's all you have left.

I fear that even someone like Mark Sammartino and his allies still feel there is room to negotiate and talk.

That time is done. When you have given back almost everything and your adversary sees you at week, why would they feel the need to negotiate when they have been bullying you for 5 or 6 years.

Sorry, but if you want to turn things around, the only way is through "radical" steps.

Knowing what I do about this district, any PFT exec or wanna-be should realize that there is now waiting list of people who want to work here en masse. That's a trump card that should be kept in mind by any real union leader who wants to be strong.

Maybe in Tacoma...but not currently in the PFT, where it is more fashionable to capitulate and genuflect than to fight for rank and file.

Randall Taylor said...

Again, we see people continue to place the burden on Gov. Corbett. Of course, his cuts are shortsighted in the extreme, but as the Questioner said"What about Mark Roosevelt"? The District was on this current path long before Corbett took office. It is funny the same people that are appalled at what is happening to their children were the biggest supporters of Mark Roosevelt.
I say again go to the the April 2008 Business Affairs meeting. THere the Board was told to begin to cut 10% a year--They, lead by Roosevelt, refused. The Board had could have taken Chris Berdnik's advice. And got on an austerity plan, but the believed in Mark Roosevelt. They voted for insane spending at Reizenstein and continued recently selling it for a pittance of its value. But, Roosevelt told them all would be well. Now here we are, and the District is in great peril.

Anonymous said...

I always love republican apologists. The idea seems to be that if enough time goes by and if we push people to believe some reinvented historical rendering, then perhaps the transgressions of the past simply didn't happen. Heck, Bush and Cheney didn't lie us into Iraq! It was all Clinton's fault.
Now the Corbett comment.
Perhaps the only fly in the writer's proverbial ointment is that many of us were never Roosevelt supporters. In fact from the very outset, many of us knew he was the least qualified to run the district out of the three candidates. The man was a lifelong politician and corporate wonk. Nothing he did here was a surprise.
Please, save the rhetoric.
For the record, Corbett has allies in New Jersey, in Maine, in Wisconsin and in Ohio, among many other places. The effort to get the government out of education has been championed by his ilk. That you would defend it or relegate his actions as being a smaller part of a local effort is not only a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the truth but incredibly disturbing.
Perhaps you work for PPS administration. Such ill conceived apologies are commonplace and unfortunately, never questioned by local media.
We've heard the baloney before. Please, save it for your children.

Anonymous said...

While I admire you tremendously, Randall, I think that you give Mark Roosevelt way too much credit. He was a Broad pawn. I know this sounds like conspiracy theory, but as to "what's behind the cuts", I refer you to today's PG:

"state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis told a Senate Education Committee that dreating legislation to allow charter schools to take over distressed schools such as Duquesne andChester Upland..."
This idea had been floated before, but found illegal- but that was under Governor Rendell.
Could this be the "big plot?" because something is plotting to kill public education in urban areas.

Anonymous said...

Randall is misguided, to say the least, as is your conspiracy theory, friend. This effort is no conspiracy. It's been a theory since the early 1980's. It grew wings when it got some billionaires behind it, that's all.
I try to keep in mind that it was the school board that hired Roosevelt, not teachers. It was the school board that got all giddy that a celebrity name wanted to be a part of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. As was stated above, here was someone who had no educational background.
To his credit, it would seem to me that Randall and Mark saw pretty quickly what Roosevelt was all about.

Please tell me what happens when Gates money runs out next year.
Please tell me what happens when the Promise is unable to make guarantees to kids about their college educations as they are now thanks to contributors no longer buying the propaganda.

What happens?

Anonymous said...

I think I owe Randall an apology as I believe I read his comments in the wrong light.
Corbett has it out for public education. Roosevelt preceded him in bringing harm to the district.

Anonymous said...

What happens? Well, Charter Schools are poised and now in position to begin, one by one, to take over public schools. A good thing? I think not!

PPS Administration and Board are selling out. Why?

Currently, with the one of the highest per pupil costs in the state, there is nothing a Charter School can do that PPS could not do much better IF PPS leadership were educators. Clearly, they are cast in molds very similar to Roosevelt. The huge amounts of money coming into the District is not being spent to educate children. Why?

Is it possible that they just do not know how and are hoping that consultants can do it? Perhaps, but you would also have to know enough to hire the right consultants. There is no evidence of that at the Board. So . . . . . . . ?

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget to put blame on SOME union members who didn't see the big picture just an extra few bucks in their pockets.
After all, they voted for the last contract and seemed happy with it as long as it affected other teachers-now it beginning to hurt them.

Anonymous said...

Van Horn, Hileman and the rest of them need to go. They have not helped teachers because they are not on their side. It seems to me the that since the number of teachers have been reduced, the number of paid union jobs needs to be decreased.

Anonymous said...

Yes the "i just want a contract" folks and the its coming anyway - have what they wanted a contract-- maybe no job-- but gee a contract

Anonymous said...

Exactly, anon, exactly. You reap what you sow. We've watched the PFT give away virtually everything. And fools vote it in anyway.
But you have a lot of young teachers who drink the kool aid, too. They actually believe the tripe that PPS gives them. Now, they'll be the first to get cut.
But hey, the PFT is telling the young kool aid drinkers that the firings thanks to RISE will help them.
What nice people, huh?
I'm all for new PFT leadership.
And I'm all for walking out next year.No one likes bullies.

A Word from Bellefield said...

The State budget cuts in conjunction with the increased employer contribution rates for PSERS (retirement) is certainly the story line for most school districts in the Commonwealth, but don't believe it for a second here in Pittsburgh.

Mark Roosevelt, this administration and this Board were warned in great detail about what was coming our way. Against the almost screaming objections of my former boss, MR perservered, insisting, for instance, that the Federal government would be so enamored with MR's plans to spend almost the entire sum of stimulus funds on ridiculous, non-instructional focused summer camps that they would come back for round two.

Guess what Mark - he was right and you were dead wrong.

Roosevelt insisted that the State would never sit by and allow all school districts to choke on the PSERS rates. No matter how many times the actuarial projections of the fund were explained, as a true politician he believed that the can would be kicked down the curb again.

Guess what Mark - he was right and you were dead wrong.

Rooseveltian economic theories of personnel services were even more exciting. He defied logic in starting the PELA program to train new principals (Roosevelt called this "pipeline") when every projection he was shown demonstrated a need for far fewerer administrators, or what my former boss would refer to as the need for "a backflow preventer."

Guess what Mark - he was right and you were dead wrong.

Roosevelt's perverse logic did not stop there. In the same grant application to Gates' that called for massive teacher layoffs (stated in the application as adjustments to class size), PPS was going to open teachers' academies to train new teachers and even through a very very very large contract to the New Teacher Project to find them.

Guess what Mark - he was right and you were dead wrong.

Shame on the elected Board for not seeing through this illusionist. Now all of our students, teachers and the City of Pittsburgh suffer.

Anonymous said...

Read this article (2008) and see if you note a trend. Departments that actually cut budgets when directed to do so and were praised by the CFO were quickly dismantled. IT is now runaway train.

Roosevelt had no interest in saving money effectively, he wanted unethical ruthless employees willing to do anything to make the data work.

Anonymous said...

The link does not appear to work, this one should.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Saves Jobs and Programs with Rimini Street
The Pittsburgh Public School District (PPS) is the largest of 43 in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, serving 28,000 students in 66 schools. The PPS technology department implemented PeopleSoft’s suite of applications to help manage the personnel and financial records for its 5,000 staff members. In 2008, along with the rest of the school district’s departments, Director of Application Development Joe Charnock and Chief Information Officer Bud Bergie were told they had to cut a total of 15 percent from their budget. After approaching Rimini Street and learning more about the Company by speaking with a number of existing clients, PPS made the switch from vendor support to Rimini Street. As a result of the switch, PPS:
·         Met mandated budget cuts by saving 50 percent in annual support fees, while maintaining full staffing levels;
·         Avoided expensive upgrade costs by continuing to run current stable releases;
·         Enjoyed more prompt, targeted service — guaranteed response within 30 minutes, 24/7;
·         Received mission-critical tax, legal and regulatory updates ahead of the vendor’s own schedule.  
“With the current economic pressures in the public sector, we realized that switching to third-party support with Rimini Street was a sound solution that could offer us the most value for our budget,” said Charnock. Since moving to Rimini Street support, the Pittsburgh Public School District has saved more than 50 percent on annual support fees. “The cost savings we realized with Rimini Street were immediate and significant, allowing us to meet our budget requirements, save jobs and more importantly, free up resources to focus on what is important, like funding programs that directly benefit the children in our district.”  

Anonymous said...

I really don't know when teachers are going to wake up and take their own union to task. Tarka was awed and hypnotized by Roosevelt and now both of them have flown the coop to other states and we are left with this mess. Their two followers-Lane and
Nina-are going down the same road, maybe because they have already gone down it too far to turn back.

Anonymous said...

It's time for the PFT membership to return Nina Esposito back to the ranks with teachers. Let's see how she performs under the RISE criteria that she advocates for her membership.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree that a union needs to be adversarial with administration, end of story. Tarka fell all over himself in forgetting who his constituents were in favor of appearing progressive in joining in an unholy alliance with the Roosevelt administration. Now Nina is keeping up the banter for public consumption.

I guess I have to ask both John and Nina, in full knowledge of the people who have been fired and will be fired and in full cognizance of the hardships you have allowed teachers to be placed under, how do you sleep?

How do you sleep?

Have you no conscience whatsoever? Is your position so cozy that you feel sheltered from what you have wrought?

One high school just fired three teachers. Another fired two others.

How can this happen to teachers with a multitude of experience? Why is there a union when it fails to address the needs of its members?

I don't know if Nina will win this election or not, but I do pray that people like she and John are made to atone for the hardships they have allowed the people who have entrusted them with so much of their faith and hopes.

Lack of pay raises are one thing, but taking away the very livelihoods of many teachers at a point in their lives that makes their getting hired somewhere else almost impossible is something else and beyond incomprehensible.

The corruption of people behind the scenes in this district--including the PFT---only makes me pray for comeuppance.

Anonymous said...

When a teacher is fired like this, do they still get to keep their pension?

Anonymous said...

From what I understand, the pension can only be targeted in a separate proceeding and that myriad other issues would go into a school district seeking to eradicate a teacher's pension. I believe that the pension goes if criminal proceedings/findings entail a teacher losing a teaching license, etc. I do not believe that a teacher being found unsatisfactory under RISE and then being terminated would also entail forfeiture of pension. That would be outrageous.

Anonymous said...

What's behind the cuts?


All forms of American life are rife with literal and moral corruption.
This is the downfall of our way of life.

No one in a position of authority is honest. And in this situation, that goes for PPS and PFT.