WMD II Wealth of Mass Distribution

 

“WMD” II

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.

  1. What is the purpose of the Consolidation bill? Money or Selfish ideology?
  2. How much money would it save, if any?
  3. 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.

Stand Ready! You are needed!  United As ONE!  Students, parents, support staff, teachers and administration, we are all “AGENTS OF EDUCATION”.  Together, students win!
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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.

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The “Undoing” Part III

Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” ― Thucydides,

…….He reached for the pen on his desk as the news came.  Sir, it happened.  Our fears have come to pass.  The load was lost and 40% of our revenue along with it.  What do you want me to do was the question in the text.  Can anything be salvaged…could he be salvaged for that matter?  The scrutiny would certainly be swift and harsh if not just… unless…..

In less than two hours he along with the other trustees stood in front of four cameras that were broadcasting a live feed to the public. “It is with sad hearts that do to circumstances beyond our control and the harsh dry conditions of the ground, our company “A.P.E. Still Company” must report to you that due to a failure beyond our control, the company has lost 40% of its revenue.  Because of the loss of revenue as a result of this failure we must introduce immediate cut backs in several of our departments.  We understand the public concerns and we promise that we are going to do everything possible to continue to do business as usual so that we, I mean you will not be harmed in any way. It is an “opportunity”………..

*She knew her most daunting task since her installment as the leader of her division was at hand…… the hour had arrived and so had she………….Way ahead of the announcement having foreseen the  inevitable reality of decisions made by a few, her department went to work. Many early mornings and late evenings would become the norm for many in the department.  Stretched thin and shorthanded the focus would remain on the greater good. With diligence she and her staff softened the blow and without doubt lessened the carnage that could have been.  Unfortunately, she thinks to herself, this is far from over.

* The phone rang and as he picked it up he heard the voice on the other end say, “What are we going to do?  This will cost all of us in the long run. Are we going to reinstate our maintenance program and get the equipment back in shape?  Can we even do that? How do we face the public? I cant sleep!” The voice on the other end went silent and the phone hung up.  He sat back in his chair wondering how did we get to this point? Who knew?  Then it hit him. He closes his eyes and travels back to the past a few short years leading up to the present events……..

Prosperity Policy: How did this happen?

It’s not hard to imagine that, years from now, Oklahomans will think back to this moment in their history with disbelief. Energy prices, they’ll remember, were at their lowest levels in decades. State tax collections were in free fall. The finance director had just announced midyear budget cuts, coming on top of cuts at the beginning of the year. A $900 million budget shortfall was projected for the coming year, equal to 12 percent of legislative funding. Schools, colleges, health care services, and public safety had already absorbed years of cutbacks; now they were facing even more.

And in the middle of all this, on Jan. 1, 2016, came a tax cut that lowered the top income tax rate from 5.25 to 5.0 percent. A tax cut that, while far from causing or being fully responsible for the state’s dire straits, contributes some $150 million to the shortfall. A tax cut that provides $31 for the median household and less than $100 for 80 percent of households, while leading to deeper cuts that inflict more pain on our teachers, students, service providers and neighbors in need, increasing the harm to our economy.

How in the world, we will wonder when we think back on it, did this happen?

The technical answer is that in 2014, the Legislature approved a bill to provide for this tax cut to take effect in 2016. They tied it to a revenue trigger that was supposed to ensure that the cut would kick in only if revenues were growing. Twelve months ago, it appeared that revenues would in fact grow this year, so the trigger mechanism kicked in. Since then, the bottom has fallen out of the energy sector, and this year’s revised revenue projections are $650 million below the trigger threshold. But because the bill wasn’t written to respond to changing circumstances, the tax cut moves ahead.

The real answer is that this is happening because our elected officials lacked the sense and the courage to stop it. The Legislature had the chance last year to suspend the tax cut once the state’s worsening financial situation was clear, but didn’t. The governor could have called the Legislature into special session, but didn’t.

Do we deserve better leadership from our elected officials? You’d better believe it, and you’d better demand it. “David Blatt
* He realizes that if he had only listened to the voices of those on the ground, those who through expertise and wisdom pleaded for a different path to be taken this situation would not have been as bad as it is now. Deep into his thoughts he starts to see the bigger picture.  Not all the problems resulted from a reduced maintenance program.  It came from several decisions that lacked the wisdom needed when they were implemented.  It started with a few meetings to determine the companies overall goal.  The goal….to put more money in the share holders pockets.  He understood that.  You had to keep them happy and if you did it would somehow be reflected throughout the company.  That seems a little ignorant of real life he thought but he also knew that is how business is done sometimes. Did he really believe this he wondered?  He had been taught different and was told to always respect every man, woman and child. But that was then and this now…Now he must act!
In less than an hour the bones of the plan had been put into place. It was now time for the meat. With pen in hand he crafted this memo: ¤Given the state of the company “finacial failure” and in order to provide the best possible service, A.P.E. (anti public ed) company will close 200 of our smaller sites. We deeply regret it but we simply have no choice. It was the dry ground you see……it was not our fault……

To be continued

Loading…Revisited!

Some Legislators make $60,000 plus while the majority of the rest make $50,000. That doesnt include total cost to state for benefits. It easily raises some salaries into the $70,000 range. Mileage is still money in the pocket just like per-diem. The rest of the tax payers must use their money to pay for fuel and lodging. Another question that needs to be asked is how far away from the Capital must one work in order to get the per-diem? Is there a certain mileage to qualify or does all legislators get it regardless if they stay in Okc or drive home. And if they drive home a certain number of miles away from the Capital do they get both the per-diem and mileage?  If you live to close to claim mileage because you can drive home then why the per-diem, why not just turn in a receipt for lunch and get reimbursed for it.  Per-diem adds up into the millions! These are questions that need asked! And if needed a review of where the tax payers money is spent.  I do believe in accountability! So lets use the number 100 which I know is less than the actual house members but it is easy math. 100*$60,000=$6,000,000/4 months
Yes they do work off and on through the year but…… The Senate is just under that figure. This does not include all their “administrative” cost. They have office staff ( some legis share) and supplies that go along with the day to day operations. Is this money well spent or could it be better spent doing more constructive things and less destructive (revenue failure) ideals? I donot oppose the ideals that our government was found on I just oppose the ideology of those running our state into the ground and ruining our ss future of education. Consolidation is not the answer but if those in charge at the capital want to continue their attack on public education then I say start in your own house. You are waisting too much of my ss money! Agents of Ed stand together and let them know, Enough is Enough!!! United As One! Agents we must ask the tough questions!

Below is a link to an article posted a few years ago. The numbers have changed….they are even higher today!

http://www.newson6.com/story/15081983/tonight-at-10-oklahoma-lawmakers-among-best-paid-in-nation