The other day I paid a visit to rural school district where I was sure I would find what I was looking for. I went to the office to check in….nothing. I went down past the auditorium, through the hallway and stopped by the little men’s room. There it was: a “WMD” right there, bent over a toilet with a plunging mechanism. You should have seen the look on his face when I walked in…priceless. He never missed a beat, he said “give me a second and I’ll be out of your way”. I thought to myself, “what a waste”. This Post-Master’s degreed individual, plunging a toilet just because it needed to be done. The audacity of some people. Doesn’t he know he could hire someone to do that….wait, no he can’t. He is short-handed and he will not burden his district financially. Besides, it’s only 15 minutes out of his 15 hour day. He doesn’t mind it too much and actually it’s kind of refreshing…..well check that, he was in the bathroom, oh well you get the point. Before I left we went over some of the District’s Title I allocations and budgets. We discussed what areas and how the monies could be maximized for next year’s looming cuts. You see like most rural school district Superintendents, he’s the Superintendent/CEO, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Federal Programs Director (Title I, 2&7), Impact Aide, Activity Fund Custodian and if needed the (PLO) I tell you what that means at the end. He wears many hats under many conditions without the pay. Like most rural Superintendents, it’s just part of his contract. I said my goodbyes out by the loading zone, high fived his principal, and watched the Superintendent get on the bus. As I hurried out to my car (wanted to beat the busses out of the parking lot, man I hate getting behind those things J) I thought, I wonder if a certain Senator is going to run his bill again on consolidation of small school admin. I must confess I had been given a heads up a week earlier, but I was still thinking it….. I thought about what he would say this time or what tactic he would employ. As I drove back towards HQ I pulled over at McDonalds and made a few notes.
- What is the purpose of the Consolidation bill? Money or Selfish ideology?
- How much money would it save, if any?
- What is the true cost of such action?
A year ago I was part of a discussion including the Senator on the possible savings, if any, in consolidating districts with an ADM of 250 or less. There had been other bills discussed that looked at districts with 300 and 500 enrollment numbers. It became apparent that it was more about ideology and who could educate the student better, than about saving money. First my statement about the size of the school: It doesn’t matter what the size of the school is, what matters is how well the school takes care of the needs of the child physically and educationally. I believe there is a school for every child and if a school is able to stay solvent financially and continue to do a good job then they should remain open no matter the ADM. There is a school in Oklahoma for every child. That’s what makes oklaed great!
Let’s say money is the REAL reason (I will address the other two in a later blog). What would be the savings just from Superintendent savings. I’m going to use some numbers here based on some quick research into district size and salary. Let’s use the number 200 (This is higher than the actual number) for the number of districts that fall into that category. Also, let’s say the total payout for the schools, not base pay….but total payout with taxes along with benefits paid out by the district that is reflected in OCAS is $90,000. That is a grand total of $18million. At first glance, by an “UNTRAINED” eye, that looks like a huge, significant (if not a wasted) amount of money…. After all, it is $18 million dollars is just more than 12% of the latest .25% income tax reduction that went into effect January 1. Maybe a little different way of saying it is…..39% of the school districts in Oklahoma should be without a local Superintendent for an idealistic ideology (Loveless & Ford). They mix no words when it comes to their belief that small schools cannot perform on the level (or don’t regularly) of larger districts. Oh I know, it’s blamed on the economy for the reasons the proposed bills are going to be submitted. But that was foreseen years ago when consolidation bills were like flies on an outhouse wall. It was the fix all then; and now it is the fix all again. For what…….for the legislatures lack of Wisdom or outright deviousness when it comes to finances? We told them……we even wrote it down so many years ago….the outcome…..the despair……the finger pointing by them……the financial trouble that the state would be in (I am currently holding that document in my hand) and the suffering that many agencies would face, all because they didn’t listen and would not even act as if they cared (It’s basic finance). Oh, some of them did. I could name them and tell you the conversations that we had behind closed doors, but I will not break the trust, the bond and relationships that have been developed with a few. These are who some of us call close allies to public ed. Those who are willing to stand for what is right, not what they or their friends feel is best for them. They need our help. They need us to light fires of illumination on these issues and to bring them to the forefront of discussion. To help them save education from the perils of a few bad ideologies that will destroy our Great Education System in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma teachers are the best in the Nation. They are what’s best for our students. Our Schools (ALL Schools) deserve the proper teachers, staff and administration to provide for their students. If two districts want to share a Superintendent then so be it, they can and some do now. If the local school boards (KEY word LOCAL) decide that is what’s best for the districts, then let it be done. In no way should a state legislature stand before the public and announce their fix for the states enconomy by means of eliminating schools or administrators. Education has taken a 24% cut since 2008. A cut…..no matter how you slice is a cut is a cut is a cut. And it is your fault Legislators…………… If you listen close you can hear the TRICKLE..TRIckle…Trickle…trickle….trickl….trick!!! That’s right oklaed………first 5 letters of this word, TRICKLE is TRICK and that is what was done to our education system along with everyone else in Oklahoma.
Oh and yes, “PLO” stands for Permanent Latrine Orderly.
Time is drawing near for action. Email addresses, along with phone numbers, have been circulating. As this month unfolds and we see what positions have been taken we will notify you of your needed help. Agents of Education stand ready! We must not and will not allow them to destroy what belongs to the children.
PS….I originally drafted this over the Christmas holiday. It is somewhat crazy how some of today’s bills mirror what I stated earlier in this document…… They are too predictable.