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Memo From The Superintendent To BCPS Employees

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1 Memo From The Superintendent To BCPS Employees on Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:04 am

Admin

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Admin
I know many of you have read this... but I feel others (non BCPS employees) need to read to stay in the loop about the Superintendents motives and proposals... we must continue to strive to explore ALL options!!!

Office of the Superintendent

Mission: To educate diverse learners, nurture their potential, and empower them to be competitive, successful, and productive citizens.

Vision: Burke County Public Schools, a world class model of exemplary education, inspiring students to be life-long learners who can compete successfully on the global stage while contributing to their community as productive citizens.

MEMO
TO: Everyone
FROM: Dr. Stellar, Superintendent
DATE: March 14, 2011
RE: Further Update on Budget and Consolidations

I hate to share any of this news with you; however, you have the right to know if you don’t already. Education is in a financial crisis! North Carolina has been said to be in a “race to the bottom”, but this state is not alone and Burke County is not alone.

Last Monday, the word was that the “low wealth” funding from the state to poorly funded local school districts – like Burke County – was safe. On Thursday, that was no longer the case. For the first time in 20 years, this funding source is in jeopardy. Burke County receives approximately $7 million for being “low wealth”, and for having “disadvantaged” and “at-risk” students. What is being discussed is a 10% or higher cut which would mean another $700,000 cut for Burke County on top of our $12 million deficit.

We are confronted with a monumental challenge in overcoming such a large deficit. This is real. How can we reduce our expenditures more on top of the $15 million worth of cuts made over the last two years?

All the easiest cuts have been made. For example, the central office administrative staff has been cut 36% since my arrival. At this point, the entire central office administrative payroll is under $800,000 so if all the central office administrators were eliminated the deficit would still be over $11 million.

The reason I am proposing school consolidations is to save jobs. It is buildings vs. people. My view is people and jobs are more important than physical structures. I’ve never seen a building teach a child. I’ve never seen a building put an arm around a child for comfort. I’ve never seen a building laugh or cry, but I have seen laid off employees cry.

Our county needs jobs. Our county needs people with jobs so taxes can be paid. School buildings generate no property taxes. When school buildings are sold, they usually bring in property taxes. It’s people vs. buildings.

Every consolidated school will save over $500,000 or ten teacher level positions. These numbers have been verified. Some people may think that the state pays all these salaries anyway so why close schools. That used to be somewhat true until the state passed the “flexibility law” last year which means state funding is no longer tied to particular positions.

The basic question in front of BCPS at the moment is, are we going to lay off more people to keep buildings open or are we going to consolidate some buildings to reduce the number of layoffs? Every building consolidated saves $500,000 or 10 teacher level positions.

My intent is not to cause anyone any undue stress, but simply to show the facts. The more people understand the situation, the more they can explain it to others. I’m going to put together some talking points for you in the next few days, although you already have plenty of information to add to your conversations.

Here is the basic issue:

The $12 million deficit has two key components – the $5.9 million loss of Federal stimulus funds which pays approximately 107 teacher level positions and the student enrollment loss of $2.1 million which equals 70 teacher assistants and another $4 million of miscellaneous problems to equal $12 million. By laying off 105 teacher level positions and 70 teacher assistant positions, $8 million of the deficit is resolved.

However, laying off that many people will cost $1 million or more for unemployment and/or insurance. Therefore, only $7 million of the deficit is resolved with $5 million more to cut.

The Board has approved around $800,000 in reductions and let’s say that another $700,000 can be found to cut for a total of $1.5 million. Subtracting the $1.5 from the remaining $5 million equals $3.5 million left to cut. Closing six schools at $500,000 each would equal $3 million of savings that would leave $.5 million still to cut (unless something else happens).

With school consolidation: There will still be up to 107 teacher and 70 teacher assistant level people laid off.

Without school consolidation: There will be 170 teachers (or equivalent salaried positions) and over 70 teacher assistants or similar people laid off.

At one of the school consolidation meetings it was suggested by a member of the audience that all employees take an across the board cut to keep that school open. I try to respect everyone’s ideas, however, it is doubtful that many employees would voluntarily take a pay cut to keep a building on the other side of the county open. Besides keeping even one of these buildings open means more layoffs, (thereby cutting 10 or more employees’ complete pay).

School consolidation is an emotional and political process. Until a decision is made, it is not fun. However, with declining student enrollment for the past 5 years and the next five years, school consolidation is inevitable. With the large deficit and no fiscal relief in sight, school consolidation is even more inevitable.

My recommendation to the Board of Education about school consolidation is driven by steadily declining enrollment and the financial realities of less funding. My recommendations to the Board are going to be based upon saving jobs. My recommendations are going to favor people over buildings.

AS/sl


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