Monday, June 1, 2015

A + B = C’mon really? Or the Superintendant talks to teachers.

In response to my school budget post I received an email from a County teacher, attached was a message (s)he had received from Superintendent Foose after the passage of the budget.  Paragraph one of the email says: 

“I am pleased to let you know that the Board of Education has approved the Operating Budget for the 2015-2016 school year. The budget totals $776.3 million, which is $3 million above the Board’s budget proposed in March, and includes $11.5 million for salary increases. “

Two statements I think are important here.  First and foremost the $776.3 million that she declares is $3 million above the Board’s proposed budget in March.  Now, unless I am reading this wrong (pg. 67 of the document specifically) that number is exactly what the Board requested.  To get precise the number requested was $776,338,380.   I will not speculate whether this is a misreading of their own numbers or misleading the teachers.  However, it clearly supports, in my opinion, a false narrative set up in this email.  

The second important statement is the $11.5 million included for salary increases.   That’s more important in the narrative with the addition of the next paragraph.

“I am especially pleased to announce that you will see a pay increase in your first July paycheck. This increase will include a half step as well as a cash payment equivalent to a half step”

Both of these statements together appear to be at least implying, “hey we got you the raise you were whining about.”  Unfortunately that is not actually the case.  See that $11.5 million for salary increases is to pay for the raises agreed to in the last contract.  That is money (which funds the pay increase on the first July paycheck) the Board of Ed is contractually obligated to pay the teachers.  If they did not have that money in the budget, they would be in direct violation of their legal agreements.  

There is no money in the approved budget to offer any raises in the current contract negotiations.[1]  Had the amendments I discussed here [2] passed there would have been but those amendments failed with only the cosponsors supporting. 

So now the Superintendent and the Board of Ed appear to have gotten exactly what they were “fighting” for in the original negotiations.  NO money for teacher raises.  Of course they could have developed a budget (even one of the same size as the one approved) that offered raises but they indicated very clearly where that fit in their overall budget priorities.  It didn’t.

Of course that is pretty crappy and truth be told I don’t understand why the school system wouldn’t just agree to the teachers' demands contingent on funding from the county and let the fight happen at the County level but it is clearly possible I am missing something.

This post isn’t really about the fight over teacher raises though.  I mean it is but it is also about the email and how disrespectful it seems to me.  The Superintendent seems to hope that teachers aren’t . . . smart enough to figure out that the facts that she lays out while entirely accurate and true, should NOT lead them to the conclusion she wants them to go to.  Specifically, that the raise they want is coming.  If you are going to play hardball with our teachers, at least respect them enough to play it straight.

[1] In case you don’t remember usually these negotiations are completed before the budget is proposed, however teachers and the Board reached an impasse and negotiations broke down.
[2] Am I already hyperlinking to myself?  That’s just shameful


  1. The Supt. and BoE are "Slick Ricks". They really know how to spin a story to make themselves look good. This is an attempt to make the teachers look greedy and ungrateful to the average taxpayer. The real story behind "where's the money", lies in the adoption of a new curriculum (GARBAGE!) aligned with the new PARCC assessment. The curriculum is costing a ton of money to develop. The PARCC that it is aligned with is an online test that is requiring the purchase of more computers and upgrades in bandwidth and the results of this test are not even used to evaluate students. Central office is top heavy in administration and likes to spend money like it grows on trees. There is so much more wrong with education in HoCo, but for now...all I have to say is that the Supt. wants everyone to think she is great and wonderful. I'm wondering when the fine folks in HoCo will get their heads out of the sand and look at what is being done to the school system, it's teachers and students.

  2. Thanks for putting the truth out there. Not only is the misinformation being sent to teachers, but it is part of a current social media push to parents and the community.

  3. Thank you! That email was very misleading and caused plenty of confusion and then, once it was understood what had happened, it caused a lot of anger. Because the educators of Howard County are not stupid. We know what this budget means, and we know where it places students and teachers: not even in the top ten of priorities.

    I hope parents will remember this when it comes time to elect our school board again; I hope they will remember why their children's class sizes are larger and their teachers have less time to devote to them as individuals. It's because of five members of this Board and the Superintendent.

  4. Thanks for your comments. I'm not sure I have much more to add except for I've received a vast amount of feedback personally from teachers expressing frustrations as seen by all three of these comments.