Tribune on Math Club, Take Two… — 12/28/2011

“Stewardship” says:

Chris,

No one disagrees that the district is going broke, PMA made that very clear. The interesting thing though is that the salaries and benefits are not that far out of line with what a not for profit organization should be at. For the sake of argument, let us hypothesize that the teachers give back half of their original proposal. It would only equate to about $400,000. Let’s even say they agree to concessions of another $100,000; that still leaves a huge amount that needs to be cut. How much more can you get out of the custodial staff and other non-teacher employees? Let’s say $100,000. Now that the board put a policy in place that they cannot drop below a 20% fund balance (I agree with this), that means if the board is going to use PMA’s projections, (FY2013)the board will still need to cut almost $1,000,000.
Where is that going to come from? My assumption is sports, activities, and electives. So since you no longer will be offering electives, you can release those teachers. That might get you through to the 2013 referendum, but what if that one fails?

Don’t you realize that you are not going to save this district financially by cutting teachers and their salaries? They might accept a freeze, but frankly they are not going to reduce their wages to a point where it will balance the budget. (Sorry mr, we can’t fire them all). So what’s left? Increasing revenues, but since Sacchi and the other anti-tax groups got their hands involved, they have turned the community against the school. Do you think all it will take is a waiving of a magic wand and you saying OK folks now it’s’ time to pass a referendum. The seeds of hate have been too well sown. The damage has been done. It will take a very long time to get the school back up to the academic standards it now achieves. The board really needs to look at its’ own mission statement. It needs to be revised and the word comprehensive removed. I no longer see RB being a comprehensive high school. Luckily, my last child will be graduating soon.

For the record, I am a registered Republican, but I do not drink tea. That is the ideology to which I was referring. Sadly, I do not have the time to discuss this in this blog, perhaps over a pint somewhere would be more appropriate.

If my assumptions were wrong about your influence at the Trib, then I apologize. I want a great school for this community, and for those children that will be there after mine leave. I hope that you do to. It appears though we have a difference of opinion on how to get there.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

POSTED SATURDAY DEC 24, 2011 09:55 #
i reply:

Stewardship —

I wonder if you can square “great school” or our “jewel”, as you say, with the parade of horribles we have witnessed. Can you reconcile your nom de plume‘s definition, “careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care,” with the sorry mess in which we find ourselves? Because you do not try, my sense is you cannot.

Neither can i, and that is how i became involved.

Seeds of reform — not hate, as you suggest — were planted by past failures. As a chronicler of same, i have zero interest in reciting them except insofar as past events create present circumstances. They teach that this reform must be comprehensive, since focusing on one element, as you focus primarily on the teachers, fails to comprehend, let alone remediate, the panoply of institutional shortfalls. Anything short of comprehensive is not reform.

That we are far past waving a wand to make the problem go away is an essay in the governance issue you have not addressed. The board has a serious duty. It operates the high school on behalf of the district. If, as we have seen, it fails in performing that duty, and instead operates the high school with respect to internal constituencies and sub-goal pursuits, then it builds alienation from the community with each such choice (think: more than 75 percent opposition to the referendum). That alienation is magnified and intensified if the board then lies about what is going on (‘How were we supposed to know the superintendent did not have a certificate?’) and/or fails to hold anyone accountable for anything (deputy principal, for instance, who has said publicly he knew the superintendent was present on school grounds and drawing his salary w/o a certificate, thus illegally, and took no action). The result? Hardened antipathy and abundant distrust. That these are particular to past RB boards and their choices, and not some general anti-school “ideology” — your word — is shown by the still high regard enjoyed by Gross, Komarek and District 96.

No one is wrong to resent being lied to — especially about as vital a public good as our high school.

We, as a community, are going through the painful process of unraveling those lies and that record. It is no fun. I for one wish we were celebrating ten percent of our seniors heading off to ‘most competitive’ colleges instead. But, hey — since our current path heads right off a cliff, it’s good that we are changing course. So let’s look on the bright side and move on.

As community members, our task is relatively easy. The difficult part is what Dr. Skinkis faces (please review his reports at board meetings), or what the board will address in its talks with the RBEA. Unravelling a series of ill-founded choices disrupts a status quo with which people are familiar, raises concerns about lost rents, creates uncertainty about what comes next and sets off a round of opposition with attendant costs. But it has to be done. Given the unsustainable course on which prior boards put us, it must be done now. One might suggest the community’s only course is to support the board and administration, before it is too late, both to pay for allowing past boards to run amuck and to vindicate our interest in the best high school we can have today.

As to end-state, fwiw, i refer you to posts back up this thread. Many posts state the goal, “the finest Illinois public high school of its size.” In late 2010 or so there is an elaboration on that theme. As a parent who actively supported the building referendum (and continues to await the board’s report on what led to the cover-up of the ten percent cost over-run to $66 million), i am linked directly in numerous ways to the school and its performance. 38th place is not good enough for me, our kids or this community.

POSTED WEDNESDAY DEC 28, 2011 06:34 #
Explore posts in the same categories: Riverside Brookfield High School -- Turnaround

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