MV Whisman holds budget forums Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:22 pm
Today the Mountain View Whisman School District will be kicking off a series of public forums on the district's fiscal state and on balancing next year's budget. Craig Goldman, chief financial officer, will talk about state funding cuts and their impact on local school programming.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 12:38 PM
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:41 pm
I think they should charge income based fees to make of any shortfall in funding. It would be nice if the fees were deductable from federal income tax. I'd much rather give the money to the schools than the feds. It's the best investment in the future we can make.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm
I hope that the MV Voice will send a reporter to attend all the meetings (yes, I know that's asking a lot) to record the audience questions and administrator's replies. The canned speech and pretty PowerPoint visuals are predictable, the Q & A is the real measure of "honesty, integrity, transparency..."
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 4:29 pm
So if Mr. Goldman is going to deliver this all-important message, and Mr. Goldman has been selected to be the next Superintendent of our schools, might I ask why we have Mr. Ghysels and are paying close to $200,000 in compensation? Gee, I think I see an opportunity to save $200,000 a year. Problem is, from what I am hearing, the district will have to buy out Mr. Ghysels to get him to leave to the tune of 1.5 years of salary! Maybe we should address this issue before we start cutting programs such as class-size reduction (which should read class-size enlargement!), GATE, and textbooks! Just a thought.
Posted by CC, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm
MV property Owners are paying Education bonds to keep the school afloat. There will be another rate hike (about $14 per 100K of asset) again in the near future.
Any budget shortfall should be spread evenly by parents who are sending their kids to local schools. The city should paid Teacher base on performance. On top of it, there shall be some money to award those teachers who help transforming the local school to better ones. Think about it in a long run. Better school will attract better family to the city. Property value will increase, so as the tax revenue funding the local schools.
Posted by Mom, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm
During these meetings full disclosure of administrators' salaries should be made, just as they have been for the city government. From there, let parents decide what should be cut.
I'd like to see all higher-than-teacher salaries be cut by 10-15% or more across the board. The current group in charge (the board and district office) will never be the ones to recommend it, so we need to demand it!
Cuts should definitely not be taken out of teacher salaries or benefits or classroom programs or supplies.
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm
I think local companies should be encouraged to support local schools as well. By investing in these kids today they will have a better crop of potential employees in the future and improve the community in which they do business.
Posted by localmom, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 10:49 pm
I don't think Mr. Ghysels is SO bad that we need to PAY him to leave. If there is a "severence" package involved why don't we let him stay and continue to serve the students of MVWSD? All he did is sleep with someone. Who cares. Since the person he is/was romantically involved with is/was a district principal, that person should no longer answer to him; in fact, the principal should quit as there are no economic consequences for the district (if in fact the relationship has survived the scandal). That way MVWSD doesn't need to hire another CFO at $150,000 plus to replace Mr. Goldman either! They can keep their jobs until their contracts expire and perhaps put the KIDS FIRST!!!
I agree with voluntary pay cuts for administration officials as well. Before a single teacher gets cut, there should be full disclosure of all administrative overhead, salaries, travel, "educational expenses", etc. The parents need to hold the Board and Super accountable and make sure ALL of that is on the table prior to any cuts that touch the classroom.
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 4:12 am
I don't see why there has to be cuts. People have to realize, particularly boomers who are approaching retirement, that if we do not invest in education for these kids who will be the wage earners in the coming years, there will not be the tax base and asset purchasing power to support those in retirement.
Posted by localmom, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 9:24 am
BTW, re: the bonds mentioned above, those are facilities only, and as a parent and homeowner, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all who voted for them and are bearing the tax burden! They were critical to updating the lighting, electrical, flooring, insultation, windows, etc. at every one of the MV elementary and the 2 middle schools. These schools were built at least 50 years ago and desperately needed upgrades for safety and other (learning-related--i.e. better lighting and warmth and cooling!) reasons. Not a penny was spent on anything frivolous that I could see, and there was a citizen's oversight committee at the time. No buildings were torn down, nothing fancy was done. So, thank you to the taxpayers!!
The actual day-to-day education costs are paid for by property tax dollars that are disbursed on a per-student basis, usually from Sacramento. MV may be "basic aid" now which means the money no longer cycles thru Sacto, but in fact the prop. taxes aren't currently high enough for this to mean any real increase in funding. It's about $8K/student. Plus we have a parcel tax voted in a few years back which I also want to thank the voters for!!! Strong schools maintain property values. This is a voluntary measure that supports your local schools ONLY and I think it's $125/household/year roughly (probably 5% of the budget).
A third local means we have of supporting MVWSD K-8 is the Mountain View Educational Foundation, a 501c-3 which accepts fully-tax-deductible donations which go straight to the classroom.
That's it folks, there is no magic bullet. The businesses pay taxes which are used for other things, and even if their revenue and taxes rise, and we have 8 Googles in town, the schools do not get ANOTHER PENNY because of the state formula, it is frozen at about $8K/student. We SHOULD expect these companies to pay more---where will they get their engineers if the schools can't afford technology and outstanding teachers? Those companies support the MVEF (Foundation) to a small degree-i.e matching donations to employees who beg them, or some donations to the spring auction. If you are motivated, look it up online, MVEF.org and see if you can help encourage higher donation levels. CASH would be nice!!!
Otherwise write editorials, write to your congresspeople, go to school board meetings and speak your mind. Maybe the City Council could impose a special tax on the Corps. we have here in MV to help the schools. Personally I think they are getting away SCOTT FREE by not stepping up to the plate when everyone knows the schools are in crisis and near the bottom in terms of nationwide funding!!! They are multi-billion dollar enterprises and they contribute zero to our struggling schools. It's quite sad. I never see "Google" on t-ball t-shirts, or school carnivals, or any other kid-related item. They feel like they are above it all. Very unfortunate. Someday we will be importing all of our intellectual capital from other states and countries if this continues.
Posted by James, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 9:42 am
I agree totally with localmom, making cuts now is exactly wrong fiscal policy as the economy is barely growing after the worst recession in our lifetime. The funds should come from those who can afford it and would otherwise not spend the money in the economy, those with excess discretionary income who would otherwise just save it, and local corporations who have large cash balance sheets.
Posted by localmom, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 10:12 am
Thank you James!! The question is, how do we reach these corps?? Should our school board leaders make a direct appeal? I don't know of anything preventing them from doing so. They could ask them to donate directly to the Foundation, it is 100% tax deductible, just as if they were supporting a food bank or the opera. This is THEIR community as it is ours! Shoudl we start a letter-writing campaign?? I have also felt that our City Council is strangely quiet on the issue, giving away land, perks, and tax breaks to these companies. They too could ask politely for something for the schools, although they have no direct authority. IT DOES NOT HURT TO ASK! :)
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:44 am
I don't know the details of the budget and how much local companies currently contribute, I believe they do, but the board should not just focus on the spending side. Sure, if there is some program that is not working and is a waste of funds, then it should be cut, but I think they should look for ways to address the funding side, perhaps by some combination of voluntary or nonvoluntary fees from parents with an ability to pay and corporate funding sources.
Posted by Robin Iwai, a resident of the Martens-Carmelita neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 12:43 pm
MVWSD CFO Craig Goldman held 2 budget forums on Wednesday.
The meeting at Huff was attended by the school site council. Only.
The meeting at Graham was attended by ONE parent. Period.
At the school board meeting, during which the board and administration discussed the process for making budget cuts, there was ONE parent in the audience and ONE teacher representing the teachers' union.
It might be helpful if more people WENT TO and SPOKE AT the meetings.
The plan centers around "class size reduction" with the proposal to increase the number of students in K-3 classrooms from 20 to 25, and eliminate 11 classroom teachers.
Be informed that if you email all five trustees, you will receive a reply ONLY from board President Ed Bailey, as the board discussed and agreed upon this policy during the board meeting.
How Ed Bailey can reply on behalf of the board, when the board is forbidden from discussing issues outside of meetings because of the Brown Act, is puzzling but perhaps the trustees will be explaining their reasoning behind this policy to the constituents who elected them.
Posted by Monta Loma Momma, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm
Robin, it shouldn't surprise you no one goes to the meetings. Word is sent out so late that no one has time to react. Don't forget either that most of the board members ran un-opposed or were appointed. The district is a joke and so are the people that are running it into the ground.
Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm
I did attend the Board Meeting where the CFO first discussed Budget issues (at Graham). Unfortunately - there is not usually much detail information released to the public (web packet) before the meeting. You often have to go and pick up the paper AT the meeting. I have complained to the Board about this several times (I know they got it because of the generic reply). The complaint - I do not have time to study and research issues (or provide much detailed comment) when I cannot have time to study! (we public)
Brown Act - board cannot discuss as a group. I suggest you pick your own favorite one or two Trustees - and discuss it with them INDIVIDUALLY! Do this in addition to a correspondence "to the Board".
Google pays extremely little to schools because of "Shoreline District" - the city gets all improment tax dollors (since 1969). Schools get 1/5 through a limited time Joint Powers Agreement.
Market conditions for administrators - great idea! Also - CI benchmarking - MVWSD pays a higher % in administrative costs compared to Palo Alto - let the board cut to math PA %. (US Dept Ed figures).
Posted by Stephanie, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm
You have to ask just how much effort they put into making these meetings known as well making available the data and talking points. I sense it's all by design.
This old admin crew is playing the same game they have always been. We'd be better off firing them all and hiring a younger crew with more ambition and attentiveness to the public. The board also is in desperate need of revitalization. Nothing more, nothing less.
Posted by localmom, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm
Question for Robin, as it sounds as if she went to the forums (and many thanks and kudos for attending!), is there actually a financial penalty to the MVWSD for "releasing" Mr. Ghysels (i.e. firing him) before his contract ends? Is there any point to doing so, as test scores are stable or even slightly up and the rancor has quieted, or should he just stay in his position, keep Mr. Goldman as well, and wait until the contract expires or he quits?? It seems WILDLY unfair to make the children absorb $100,000 in cuts due to this man's indiscretions IF that is on the table.
Another question as a parent inexperienced in swaying Boards, if the "agenda" focuses on increasing class sizes, how does one hope to change the focus? Bringing up points such as reducing admin salaries to P.A. levels, going for special taxes/levies for larges corps, etc, may not make much sense at a "forum", but at least expressing exasperation and outrage at cuts that are directly in classrooms might have SOME impact I suppose! Writing to individual Board members also may have some impact even if an individual reply is not forthcoming. By the way I think that absolutely STINKS And is a relinquishment of responsibility of the job. Replying to an email is NOT a violation of the Brown act. In fact, ignoring email and calls is cause for LOSING one's position of responsibility in the community!! Come on Board, you were democratically elected, and you are paid by the citizens of Mountain View. You are public servants. If you really hate the job that much, move on!
Posted by teacher, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm
To answer Francis' question, currently MVWSD schools are not in compliance with class size reduction and pay a penalty to have a maximum of 22 students in each room. Last year class size was 20 students for every one teacher. The district is currently proposing an average class size of 25 to 1 for the 2010-2011 school year (with a maximum of 27, yes, 27). It is cheaper to pay the penalty than it is to pay a teacher's salary. Due to the increase in students in each classroom, the district estimates that 11 teachers will be laid off.
I do not support any cut to our teacher's salaries. MVWSD teachers are some of the hardest working professionals I have met in my life. We teach your children to read, think critically, and to be good citizens. We listen to you cry after school about your divorce or family situations. We secretly by Christmas presents for impoverished families who we know won't have a visit from Santa this year. We buy the the glitter glue that the schools can't reimburse us for that your child uses to decorate your Valentine's day card. We plan pot lucks and parent education forums, math nights and science fairs. We do all of this and come home to help our own kids with their homework and wake up again each day at 6:00 A.M. to answer 30 work related emails. I challenge you to walk in our shoes for one week and still say that you (Big Al) support a cut to teacher salaries.
Posted by Robin Iwai, a resident of the Martens-Carmelita neighborhood, on Mar 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm
1. answer to Steve Nelson:
Printed copies of the power-point presentation were available at the community forum. Maybe you could request it by email. Maybe it is on the district website? I emailed Craig, when the meetings were announced, to ask what budget documents would be available to peruse in advance of the meeting. His reply (which I apologize if this is of a confidential nature) was:
"We are not distributing any budget documents. Depending on the date of the forum, the 2nd interim budget will be available since it is being presented to the Board on March 18.
2. reply to localmom:
I have absolutely no knowledge about the terms of Maurice's or Craig's contracts. It does seem to be something a lot of people are wondering about.
3. reply to teacher:
I agree that teachers put tremendous effort and plenty of their own money into providing the best education possible for their students. We have fabulous teachers. One would think that the people who are directly involved in delivering this education for the world ahead would have some input into the process, the materials, the decisions, etc. I've asked at school board meetings "What did the teachers say when you asked them about it?" The reply contains words and sentences but not an answer to the question asked.
What if every district level administrator and trustee were required to spend one day a month (once a trimester? once a year?) in the classroom, fully in charge of a class for an entire day? (like a substitute teacher). What impact might that have on decisions made and the relationship between teachers and the district office?
4. There are still numerous opportunities to learn more and participate, as clearly stated in the MV Voice article (copy/paste below):
Topics up for discussion include class size reduction, transportation, special education, English language development, GATE, textbooks, physical education and performing arts.
In addition to providing information, the district hopes to receive input from the community regarding the 2010-11 budget. All forums are open to the public. The Castro and district office sessions will also be presented in Spanish.
The upcoming budget forums are:
Tuesday, March 2, 3:30-5 p.m. at Huff Elementary
Tuesday, March 2, 5-6:30 p.m. at Graham Middle School
Tuesday, March 9, 4:30-6 p.m. at Bubb Elementary
Thursday, March 11, 6:30-8 p.m. at Castro Elementary
Monday, March 15, 6:30-8 p.m. at the District Office
Tuesday, March 16, 6:30-8 p.m. at Monta Loma Elementary
Tuesday, March 23, 4-5:30 p.m. at Landels Elementary
Tuesday, March 23, 6:30-8 p.m. at Crittenden Middle School
Tuesday, March 30, 4:15-5:45 p.m. at Stevenson Elementary
Tuesday, March 30, 6:30-8 p.m. at Theuerkauf Elementary
Posted by eric, a resident of another community, on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:12 pm
I am deeply tired of all the complaining about Ghysel's severance package. First, it was, I assume, part of a legally binding contract that was quite normal for a hire of his level. Whether you are happy or upset about his leaving the district, the district is bound to this. Period. Move on. As a percentage of the districts annual budget, its darn near a rounding error.
Steven, I think that your admin-expense comparison is a reasonable thing to bring up, but keep in mind that PA is a k-12 district, as opposed to our K-8. Needs may be different. Also, many people listed as Administrative provide direct support to teachers. I'd be interested to know exactly which positions you would cut. To many here, I'd like to know how much money you expect to see saved by cutting administrative salaries (and how that would impact hiring a new CFO to replace Goldman, too).
All of this noise is distracting from the important point here-- MV Whisman may have issues, but it is NOT the problem-- the State of California is ROBBING our schools! Go see the budget presentation, get mad at Sacramento!!
Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2010 at 7:48 am
The district administrator salaries in MV are generally running about 80-83% of the salaries in PA. The % administrative numbers from the US Ed Dept were a slightly higher total % spent on admin in the MV dist. This was the latest data - but a couple of years old. An audit of the Dist several years after the merger recommended that the admin % be cut (the merger had not resulted in decreased # in the central administration). I don't recommend any particular positions be cut - just that administratinve TOTAL COST % is a benchmark that can and should be used.
Posted by parent, a resident of another community, on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:02 am
To the Teacher that lives in Old M.V.
Pat yourself on your back for all the little extra things you do that makes you think you are such a special teacher.
How many presents do you rake in a year on every single holiday? These presents are from your students' parents, to thank you for the job you do. We spend money too! It all works out. But to hear you complain about the money you spend on our kids, just killed it.
You Being a teacher was your choice. You work 38 out of 52 weeks a year and you think you have a difficult job? You poor thing. PLEASE
Posted by eric, a resident of another community, on Mar 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm
Dont take offense, Steven (because your arguement is perfectly rational), but thats a bit of a cop-out. Its not like our district has a huge admin staff where you can just make an X% cut. A cut means cutting a specific function. I frankly doubt that the audit was conducted by someone with an education background.
Posted by Steve Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2010 at 10:38 am
Thanks, I do try to be rational and logical. The job of a Trustee, or a community critic, is to be of guidance to community priorities to the district administration. Although I might argue in detail on salaries, combined functions etc - this isn't a condo association, I'm not the administrator, and I don't have a vote on details!
The audit after the merging of the MV and WSD districts was specifically conducted by a board-chosen specialist in educational finances. (sorry - don't have year and board meeting of report).
The current comparisons (valid reporting years 2006-7) which I've talked to the Board
about (and the Voice) are from the US Dept of Education, Educational Finance Statistics
Center (EDFIN). [ I think they have an educational background ; ) ] A better "metric"
is" % instructional expenditures" [I'm not here to pick on administrators - who have a salary scale of about 81% of Palo Alto] :
comparisons from EDFIN "Common Core of Data"
Los Altos K-8 69% educational expenditures
Lafayette K-8 69%
Palo Alto K-12 66%
MVWSD K-8 64%
Los Altos and Lafayette were two CA districts specifically picked out by the statistical processes at EDFIN as comparable financially to MVWSD.
To policy wonks: Web Link or nces.ed.gov/ccd/districtsearch/
[pardon my spelling mistakes in March 4 postings]
Hope to see you all there at Bubb March 9, 4:30PM [do your homework]. And after there are some actual #s, at Landels, Crittenden, Stevenson, and Theuerkauf.
Posted by MV Resident, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm
eric, I find your commments ridiculous so don't go thinking you are immune. Any money wasted in this district on pay-offs to Ghysels is money that is not spent toward students learning in the classroom! Is that rational enough for you? If you want to talk Ghysels, then talk about his failure to grasp what a conflict of interest is or the how what he says (putting the interest of students first) flies in the face of him taking a pay-off per his contract once he's let go. That would hardly be putting the interests of students first.
Posted by kelsey mesher, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer, on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:47 am kelsey mesher is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
One correction: The forum at Bubb Elementary is actually taking place this Wednesday, March 10 from 4:30-6:30. There was a mistake on the original schedule, which a Bubb site council member kindly pointed out -- apologies for the confusion.
Posted by Robin Iwai, a resident of the Martens-Carmelita neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2010 at 2:55 pm
reply to Connie...
Scheduling parent meetings (PTA, etc) is always agonizing because there are some parents who prefer daytime, and others who prefer evening. Many PTAs alternate their meetings between morning and evening.
- you can attend a budget forum at any school site (although one could understand wanting to hear what other parents at your own school think, etc)
- Craig Goldman has always been very receptive to meeting individually with parents at a mutually convenient time
Posted by Martha, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2010 at 3:23 pm
To Monroe Park Parent:
Teachers spend a lot more money in out-of-pocket expenses in one year than any parent will ever spend on teacher gifts over the course of a child's elementary career. 6 years (K-5) of candy, gloves, movie tickets, etc., vs. hundreds -- yes, hundreds -- of dollars a year in classroom supplies. Not even close. And teachers are at school from before 8:00 in the morning until usually after 4:00, often later, with less than an hour for lunch (no long off-site lunches); then at home they correct papers and prepare lesson plans at night, on the weekends, on vacations. They often spend the week or two after school gets out for the summer cleaning up the classroom. Then they start two weeks before the kids do, setting up the classroom, attending staff development meetings, etc. Do they get more weeks of vacation than many in office jobs? Yes, but many people after years of service get 4-5 weeks off, plus they have the flexibility of working from home, taking a day here and there. Teachers have no flexibility. They can't just leave a little early one day because they feel like it, which professionals in other occupations can do. I find it very annoying when people speak as if the classroom hours are the only hours that a teacher works. While this might be true for a very few, it is certainly not true for most. I'm not a teacher, but I know a lot of teachers, and I know how much time they put in.
Posted by Just another teacher's perspective, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm
I was a teacher in the WSD during the years of 1968 to 1996. Each year
I spent about $2,000. per year of my own income. I could have taught in a classroom with old broken materials, no incentives for positive reenforcement, outdated books and limited supplies. Sure, it was my choice but it was for the many children who benefited all those years. Sure, I did deduct a percentage of that each year on income tax.
My beginning salary was $8,000 and ended after 28 years at $50,000.
Although I qualified for Social Security, that was denied by the government so thank god I have a pension. Today we hear the same complaints. My point is that the public needs an attitude change regarding teachers, respect what they do and
validate them for their love and focus on your children especially when considering cuts. It is always the relationship between your child and the teacher that is the most important.
Posted by MW, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 9, 2010 at 7:08 pm
Thank you for posting the schedule of the meetings -- it's really helpful to have the advance notice.
However, there was a typo -- I went to Bubb school at 4:30 today hoping to attend the meeting, only to find out it was being held tomorrow. Would you please double-check the remaining meeting schedule to make sure it is accurate? And if there are any corrections, would you please post them in the new print copy of the Voice as well as online?