Thursday, August 18, 2005

Springfield School Board Rolls Back, Rolls Over

I'm not even going to justify this little speil with a link to the Gnews-Leader or quotations from proud school board members. After finally selling a tax levy increase to the voters of Springfield - with a great deal of help from teachers seeking smaller class sizes, I might add - the Springfield School Board has elected to rollback the levy in order to save voters $27 a year on property taxes.

It's a gesture of good will, I guess, aimed at placating those in the community who don't support public education. Seems like an odd stance for a school board, if you ask me. But it also is a complete rollover onto an already burdened teaching staff, and stiffs the kids as well. The board's action further creates the impression that the initial levy campaign, with its threats of program curtailments, was over-stating the problems in our schools. The critics and naysayers were right, they tacitly acknowledge. What an ingratiating and inauspicious start for the new superintendent.

There is a big myth floating around Springfield. The myth is that the citizenry here care about improving education and investing in a good future for the children. The school board's caving on the levy in order to create better PR with the community is disingenuous at best and deceitful at worst.

Who will end up enduring even longer delays on basic improvements to the system? The students and teachers - the people in the classrooms trying to get it done. Are there any teachers out there celebrating this decision? Find one. I remember the leadership meeting I attended last summer. The day the tax levy passed there was a room full of 500 celebrants, cheering, even dancing. But that was an abberation. Nothing has changed.

Last year, this math teacher had 138 middle school math students divided into four classes. You do the math, and it adds up to 34.5 students per class - and this is in a core subject that students are tested over and over and over. The school is ultimately rated over these test scores and then publicly labeled as successful or failing.

If the school board had any inkling or inclination to significantly help the system perform better, they would put as much money as they possibly could into hiring more good teachers and shrinking class sizes. It's interesting that the R-12 school board feels compelled to raise the superintendant's salary "to be competitive" but gets all squeamish when it comes to using that same rationale when hiring teachers. Makes you wonder about priorities.

Am I the only one who thinks this school board is just slightly out of touch with reality? And I'd still like to hear the reasoning behind moving all the R-12 administrative employees to a separate pay scale from other professional staff (teachers). It almost seems like a "class" thing. Surely not. No wonder so many third-year PE teachers opt for getting that administrative certificate, thus utilizing their wealth of teaching experience as building principals. Next step . . . superintendent at Sparta or Ava or Bumfuck . . . who cares? It's great money!

By the way, did you know that the new superintendent's salary schedule was given a sweet $45,000 boost this year? Now it's up to $190,000 for yet another migrant administrator to fly in and utter the same tired platitudes about "ownership", "leadership" and "community". Hell, he just moved here, and he's leading cheers about the community already. Have you ever wondered why they don't promote from within Springfield? If this is such a great community, why is it we can't find any leadership from within? Is it some kind of civic inferiority complex, or what?

But let's get back to the pay scale. The R-12 superintendent's pay raise alone - let me say that again - the superintendent's raise alone, makes up more than 150% of a starting teacher's full salary in Springfield. Just his raise. You want to talk about rollbacks?


edderickson74271473 said...
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Soprano2 said...

I can't believe that asshole spammed your comments.

I feel for you--I can't believe the school board did that, either. The only thing this community evidently cares about is getting their tax burden as low as possible--and oh, by the way, make sure we have Cadillac public services while you're at it.

People say they want small neighborhood schools, but when you tell them they have to pay more taxes to support smaller schools they tell you to do more with what you've already got. I'm sure Roundtree will be saved, because its parents are motivated, visible "movers and shakers" who know how to build public support. I wonder what will happen to the rest of the schools they've talked about closing--I bet they'll close quietly.

Anonymous said...

Such brillant minds on the school board... they can't balance the budget to save their souls, lose $5 million only to low and behold find it again the next year-but where did it go? And now they aren't going to take the money that they got by holding a gun to the publics head! What about all that ongoing maintenance that's needed? My fourth grade class twenty years ago had over 40 kids in it, the teacher went nuts and died not too long after-it seems that only one thing changes in the Springfield school system-poor leadership. I wonder if the public will ever wake up. I feel for you working in the system, its one reason I decided not to go into education. It's too bad union is such a bad word around here because I think the teachers could use one.

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