At the Board meeting on the 28th I watched you very carefully. I really
got a feeling of your sincerity and frustration over the financial crisis we face in the district. I came to believe that you really were
looking for alternate means to finding ways to save money. I actually believe now that you may care to listen to what a lowly teacher, with
thirty years of experience in this district, had to offer on these
issues. I certainly haven't felt that way in several years. Then, I received the form from the district asking for my input. So, despite my
colleagues doubts and comments like--"Oh NOW they want to hear from me? Ya, like they care." I am going to take the time to share some things
with you. These are just a few things that I think should be done.
1)We have over 100 teachers over age 55 at the top of the pay schedule--why are they here? Many tell me it is one word, insurance.
Use interest of the severance funds to fund insurance for these folks
until Medicare kicks in. Replace them with bottom-of-the-pay schedule people. Do the math, a least a quarter of a million dollars could be
saved in salaries.
2)Immediate freeze on the purchase of textbooks--shift those thousands set a side for new texts into the general budget. For many years I have
struggled with outdated, worn out textbooks--only recently have I had the luxury of fairly new texts. In crisis we can make do with what we
have--we've done it before.
3)Charge parking fees--many districts do. The board was going to do this several years ago but never followed through. Unworkable--said the
administration. How tough is it to charge $100 to people, students & even staff? When picking up the required parking permits--pay. See how
much revenue Forest Lake and others bring in to their districts.
4)How much do we pay to use the DECC over the year? Bring the commencement ceremonies to the school's gymnasium. No more
district-wide meetings there!
5)Freeze all district travel and expenses to workshops, conventions, and other such junkets. In crisis we can't afford these things.
6)Eliminate curriculum specialists--at least in the secondary schools. I have not seen any evidence they have ever helped the average classroom
teacher. From my experience the last two years, our social studies specialist is never listened to by the curriculum director anyway.
7)The print shop is one of the few helps to me down at CAB. I don't want to see them cut anymore. However, I understand they are taking in
other out-of-district jobs. Raise the fees they charge to Edison, etc.
8)Increase lab fees and co-curricular fees.
9)Cut building supply budgets--including CAB. In crisis, we will make do. It wouldn't be the first time I would buy pencils and paper for my
10)Look at the amount we spend on postage, it's unbelievable. Let's utilize the paper, Channel 22, E-mail to make communication with
parents. Eliminate school newsletters in the conventional sense. Eliminate mailings on conferences. There are other ways to do this.
11)Remember when certain board members argued Edison would only make our schools stronger? Remember when they said none of our kids would be
hurt? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars have we lost in state aid going to Edison rather than to our district? I know this won't help
in the current crisis--but please remember this.
12)Channel Three news reported you could save the entire amount by cutting Human Resources by one third. Is this true? When I started in
the district, there were 25,000 students, 1300 teachers, and only Del
Daedo and his secretary in Personnel. Now look.
13)Look back at the old district's phone directory thirty years ago and count the number of employees working out of Central Administration. Now
look at it. If I gave you the figures you would not believe it. Isn't
it surprising that CAB cuts aren't big when you ask CAB to cut themselves? Look at what you were told on the 28th --$200,000 of the
cuts coming at CAB will be simply paying people in technology from a
different fund. CAB tells you their percent of the budget is actually low when compared to other districts. So what? Other districts have
even more bloat than we have!
14)Get out of Old Central--it has always been a symbol of disgust in this community going back to when people were told it was unsafe and new
Central needed to be built -- then, miraculously, it could be saved to house Central Administration. Since then it has grown and grown and
grown to fill up the space. Sell it, lease it, rent it!! Central
Administration has to go somewhere, but the idea of a centralized administration is outdated in the 21st century of E-mail,
video-conferencing, faxes, and new electronic communications. Break it apart and put it in schools that aren't up to full capacity.
You need to start trying to heal this district. CAB, PTSA, parents,
board members, and building administrators have one major function--that function is to help me teach kids. That is the bottom line. All too
often CAB hinders and makes more difficult my work. CAB is so isolated
from classroom reality that they have lost sight of what their real work
is. Put them in buildings with kids! Let us share meals together, let us share experiences, let us start to understand each other, and get us
working together. I graduated from Bloomington Lincoln; the district's offices were in our
school building--as a student, I saw and talked to administrators and
the superintendent of schools--we were all together as a team. Do this for our district. Do you have any idea what most kids think about the
superintendent showing up smoozing at graduation? They really resent it. I remember when the school board used to meet around our community in
various schools for their meetings--really made the community feel apart
of the process. How many times have you done that since Old Central became the CAB?
I appreciate you taking the time to consider what I have to say. I have dedicated my life to teaching in the public schools. I truly believe
that they are the foundation of our democracy. Without the best public
schools in the world, the future of our kids is dark.
The stewardship of the public schools is now in your hands, we cannot be
the generation that loses the schools. Help me, help me to make the public schools better and stronger than they were before I started to
teach. Don't let my life's work be in vain.
Thank you for your thoughts. They may not all be practicable but I intend to reflect on them very seriously and let them serve as grist for the next year. It looks like the seven hour day is here to stay and that there will be no building closings for next year. We'll have a year to chart a new course.
Just when I think the crisis is easing off new straws get added to my back. Its not just your email. Right now our district and the whole community is finally willing to face its fiscal limitations. This should be good news but, unfortunately, nerves are getting frayed at just at the time I think blue sky is beginning to shine through the clouds. I'm afraid that some of the people I'm counting on to make rational decisions are near the end of their ropes. Wish us well and thanks for your expression of confidence in me. I hope I prove worthy of it.
All the best,