Saturday, December 20, 2008

What Gets My Gall?

In the December issue of the parent newsletter from the Paradise Valley Unified School District, there is a letter from the Superintendent. I wanted to excerpt part of that here then comment.

On November 4, voters in the PVUSD approved the continuation of the K-3 override, but defeated the Maintenance and Operation budget override. That will impact every employee in our district in some way.

We have work to do to make appropriate decisions for dealing with the loss of approximately $5 million in revenue from the Maintenance and Operations override...

Okay, so what's wrong with this statement? It helps if you understand what an override actually is. An override is permission to EXCEED the budget. So why the hell is PVUSD already making plans to spend money that by all rights they should be able to function without?

There are budget overrides on the ballot every year. How did we get into this cycle of depending on overrides? Every year the portion of my property tax that goes into PVUSD increases. Two years ago, every item in my property tax went down except PVUSD. That went up almost 20%, and yet they cut the band program for the 4th graders.

There is a fundamental flaw in the budgeting process for this school district. If the budget is too small to begin with, we should be working on using the political system, including ballot propositions, to restructure the PVUSD budget. Asking every year to exceed the budget not only makes it look as though the school district cannot handle the money it already has, it also leaves the real budget far too susceptable to downturns in the economy and the mood of the voting public.

Overrides are a bandage. We need a real solution, and it behooves PVUSD to address the real problem instead of begging the public to allow them to exceed the budget year after year.


Anonymous said...

You know, you're right. The budget overrides are extra money. And yes, PVUSD needs that extra money to continue making progress because the state's funding is an absolute joke - we rank 49th out of 50th in per pupil funding. We're in a district that pays teachers $33,000 per year, which according to the American Federation of Teachers is $18,009 LESS than the national average. And now, teachers are being asked to take a decrease in pay because our beloved state is cutting funding that will put us dead last out of all 50 states for funding. As prices increase, it costs more to run our schools, just like it costs more to live. People don't want to pay more in taxes, so teachers go without raises for years on end. I have been in the classroom for 5 years and make LESS money than I did as a first-year teacher because my insurance costs went up!
So who does all of this hurt? Essentially, the kids are going to suffer. Next year I will teach 185 kids per day. I will not assign as many essays or give as much feedback. I will not come to school at 6:30am twice a week to offer extra help to struggling students or sit in meetings for hours on end trying to figure out why Billy just won't do his homework. I will not stay after school and work to make sure that each and every one of my students have the opportunity to succeed because I am tired of being paid $17.00 per hour. I am tired of working all summer for free. I am tired of going to mandatory "education" sessions (which I'm sure eats up a ton of $$$ - they have to pay the presenters and there are HUNDREDS of opportunities every year). I am tired of caring more than our district office cares. I am tired of district cutting programs that are most beneficial to kids - programs like band and choir and art and PE. I am tired...

Rick Novy said...

You know what? Right after I posted this blog entry, I emailed an invitation to the PVUSD school board to comment and give the other side of the story. The silence is deafening.