Latest and Greatest

I will have to make this brief since I have a about an hour and 15 minutes until the first community discussion about budget.

Today we had a board retreat to talk about the preliminary budget. It started around 8:00 and concluded around 2:00. The presentation was very eye opening as we finally understood that the cuts to services were unacceptable across the district. This specifically included staffing models and many other areas.

At 2:00 John Aitken realized that the board wanted to know what it would take to fund up the standards of the SCS models. The great part is that we all agree that we want the SCS model but we also understand that if we do so, it will cost an extra 100 million dollars.

Here are the real issues that we face:

1) The SCS runs a larger school model with a well staffed model and excellent course offerings. We maximize the size of schools and pack as much as we  can. The MCS model is composed of lots of little schools and a few large schools. This model is incredibly inefficient and does not offer the level of academic programs that a large school does. This makes the cost per pupil 25% more than many much of the SCS schools.

How do we fix? We must create an urban education delivery model that more resembles the SCS by closing and razing or adding on to  many small schools and building larger/efficient schools . However, that is a 5-10 year goal. It cannot be done tomorrow. It must be a large community planning discussion. Alot to overcome.

2) The ASD and Charter schools are taking full pupil funding but not taking any on the OPEB liability. This means that when we lose students, most of the time we get no expense recovery from charters while we do with ASD. However, the OPEB liability remains with the county. This must be addressed in the legislature as a chargeback to the district.

3) The county is providing many children’s social services that must be owned by the city and county. Shelby County Schools exist to educate children in levels K-12. Pre-K is not included except required by law. Clothing,providing medical care(excluding school nurses), dental care, and optical care are community issues that must be addressed at the county level. But it cannot continue to be funded at the school level.

4) When our city and county mayor approve a pilot in lieu of taxes, they in effect approve on the behalf of the schools a funding cut to the county school system. Right now, they have approved what amounts to 40 million a year of county money to remain with the businesses.

5) Much more to ask and fight through.. especially where all of the MCS money is going. But I feel it is going to number 3 above.

Continue to advocate. Write your board members. Write your legislators. Stay informed. More to come.

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