LIVE BLOG: Special Legislative Meeting – June 6, 2013

Thanks for joining our live blog from the Board of Education Special Legislative Meeting.

8:50pm  We are switching over from Twitter to the blog to make it a little easier for everyone to follow along.  The meeting started about 35 minutes ago.

Board and CFO Chuck Burbridge are in the midst of discussing teacher allocations and classroom size for the proposed FY14 budget.

8:51pm

Burbridge: A teacher costs 80K on average, no matter where we get the revenue.  The cost is still 80k.

Kinanne: Looking at what we allocated in payroll for last year and this staffing allocation has us at 63 less…

Burbridge: It doesn’t affect QBE.  If we have all rookie teachers, the augmentation will be minimal.  Your base is based on your student count, not the number of teachers you hire. Calculted on March student counts, so its done.

Kinnane: But the student count, the # of teachers is related to that, is the number we had last year…is that at all…

Burbridge: That number is the number we get starting July 1.  It’s based on the march student count.  Our base is at 47,000 students. Those are fixed numbers. We’ve already reported the tenure of our force based on last year.

McDaniel: Is this sheet used to calculate the total number of teachers, or if we approved this budget as it would there be 17 fewer teachers at Mays next year?

Burbridge: This budget is based on 1761 teachers.  I can’t tell you if there would be 17 fewer at Mays, will that actually happen? There is a difference between budgeting for it and implementing it.  This is what the allocation suggests.  There are other teachers that will be added into this.  Even when added they may decided how they will use those teachers.

Davis: This is a starting point.  Last year we were changing teachers in October and we hope to get that work done earlier this year.  The number of teachers is going to change.  I say these things and you don’t want to hear them, but this is not an exact science, it’s an art.

Burbridge: And that art takes place between individual principals and the teachers.  This is really an initial allocation based on the formulas we have available to us for the 1761 teachers.

Burks: So this situation would force a Mays, if they wanted to have smaller classes, to use their Title I dollars for teachers.  Starting day 1, they would be here.

Burbridge: Or special teachers.. EIP

Burks: I saw 3 schedule changes last year, that is a lot.

Davis: That is why I’ve said we want to get that done early this year.  We would like to get the numbers done within the first 3 weeks of school.

Muhammad: What about those year round schools that start next month? How are we factoring them into this equation.

Davis: The interaction with them would simply be sooner.  We are trying to do what took 3-4 months last year, within the first month this year.

Kinnane: I can’t even believe that we think we should start day one with these numbers.

McDaniel expresses concern over this staff allocation being used as an actual example of what would happen on day one.

Burbridge says that when the actual distributions are done they traditionally look different than what they actually end up with on payroll.  “This is a planning number to get an overall budget amount.  It is hard to believe that we would have such dramatic swings between what we allocated one year with a waiver and what we would allocate this year with the same waiver.”

Meister: The state is telling us we are going to get 2091 for core teachers…

Burbridge: It’s actually 2900.  That is if we were paying our teachers 30k, but we dont.  That’s a computation to get a resource dollar amount.  They are just computing resources.  There is no expectation that we could have 2900 teachers based on the dollars they are giving us. That sheet is not used to dictate how many people you should have.

Kinnane: Once again, these numbers we’ve been asking for from principals for each school…was that done…

Davis: Either February or April that requests went out to principals.  Meetings were held with principals.  I can’t tell you the degree of agreement or disagreement, what was changed but they didn’t happen just within the last month. These numbers are not suddenly put in front of principals.  I know that discussions have taken place in principal meetings. These are not surprises or unknowns to principals.

Kinnane: My question wasn’t whether there were surprises or unknowns, but whether there was input.  This information was shown to them but was information given back.

Davis: You have to start somewhere, I either give them to you or you give them to me. If your question is ‘Is there an opportunity for them to evidence a concern,’ the answer is yes, there have been opportunities and venues for those discussions.  We will staff appropriately using whatever waivers we have and we want to get them in early during the first 3 weeks of school.

Kinnane: And I think that’s good, but that’s for tweaking.  I can’t imagine we can go to any HS principal and tell them they are losing this many teachers…

McDaniel asks about the 41 number on the allocation sheet for Grady.

Burbridge: We pulled this from a mathematical formula.  This is not based on conversations with principals.

McDaniel: If you lined up Ms. Waldon’s number with 1761, could we get the numbers school by school.

Burbridge: We can get those numbers for you. The averages we have in the FY14 formula show that our smallest classroom sizes are at ES 21.1, MS is 28.3 and the largest would be 30.4 at HS. Current staffing has our smallest classes at HS level, average 23.6, ES is 24.8 and MS is 27.7.  FY14 allocation of teachers is similar to actual of FY13.  Question is, should HS classes be smaller than your ES classes.  That’s something that can be discussed and you still have time without changing the overall budget.

McDaniel mentions that with the graduation rate, that’s a discussion you would want to have.  Burbridge adds that you would also want to know whether a child could read at the elementary level.

Burbridge: Example, you take a Therrell HS of Health & Science…they had on payroll 11 teachers, they are allocated 10.  You divide with student count and end up with 23 students per teacher. But b/c its a High School, when you add in specialty teachers, we may add in another 8 speciality teachers, ending up with class sizes that may approach the teens, 13 per class.  Whereas when you add at elementary, you still have that class size and specials won’t reduce your core 1st grade size.  And as the superintendent indicated, there is still that work being done out there with the principals.

Kinnane: What did Ms. Waldon use for the staffing allocation?

Burks: I thin what we heard, is the intention is to start the year off with this piece of paper and then adjust the first three weeks.

McDaniel: I don’t think that’s what we were told.  It would be reasonable for someone to say that the math says Grady is down 18 teachers but we negotiate and then they are down 2 teachers.  I don’t think anyone has said we would start off the school year with this exact number of teachers at each school.

Burks says she will not feel comfortable approving the budget without a better understanding of how the schools will be staffed.

Davis says that what is being memorialized is not the allocation the Board approved last year, it is where the schools ended up last year.

Meister: What type of waiver will this require?

Burbridge: +5, which gives you the same teacher allocation as…

Davis: Actually there are 40 teachers difference.

BOE asks what it would cost to add 40 teachers.

Burbridge: This piece of paper is based on the waiver +5

Davis: Up to +5 is already reduced by 40 teachers

Meister: I think what we were driving up during this whole budget process is to get to +3 and in my opinion there has been a total disregard to what the board requested.

Davis: I believe you were told of the costs to get to each of those levels.

McDaniel: Where we got to in the end was how we get classrooms that looks next year like it did last year (in terms of size).  In my mind, the budget and the policy is driving where we are trying to get to as opposed to the waiver. If we did a waiver of 2, some schools would look better than they did last year, and some would look worse.  We can’t say the mathematical formula is driving strategy and policy.

YJohnson: You mentioned Ms. Burks about what day one looks like, in my mind you wouldn’t know until day one…is that not the case?

Davis: We would have an allocation there for the kids.

YJohnson: When would we have that day one number? Would we approve something now with the understanding that we would…

Davis: There is a change in the mix, but the mix doesn’t have to change.  This just has to be remixed, especially when we have a net decrease in the number of students.  The logic of the state allocations says that classes should be bigger at higher levels, before any waivers.  We have lower sizes at higher levels.

Burks: My frustration…if these were the numbers given to February or March and there has been conversations, I guess I’m struggling with why no one has said what the numbers are in the conversation.  They’ve seen this as early as February or March and we have not had indication since we’ve been having budget meetings and this has been the hot topic and no one has said these are not the numbers.  This is the first time I’m kind  of hearing…

Davis: I think principal discussions are over.

Burks: If they are over I think we should have had different numbers.

Davis: I’ll check.

McDaniel: My understanding is this came from finance as a simple mathematical numbers, C&I did not give you these numbers…

Burbridge: We received these numbers from the demographers in February and are used for budgeting but do not reflect actual allocations.  Budget planning last year for Grady was 39, but they got to 60.  How they got to 60 is something that happens outside of the budgeting process.

McDaniel: We are making decisions on how many teachers we want to have in the system.

Burks: If I’ve seen these numbers, I’m not sure I would allow these numbers to be distributed.

McDaniel: We’ve asked finance to give us more details, from my perspective what we’re trying to do as a Board is decide how many teachers we want in the system.  It seems to me that we are now allocating in the budget process, give her take a few, that we had last year. From a budget process, we’ve gotten to where the Board can make a decision.  Mr. Davis we would ask you to make the philosophical decision as it relates to class sizes.

Burks: I think the waivers we’ve approved at the elementary schools are higher +5, as opposed to high schools +3 (in response to Supt. Davis comment about a district trend in the past towards small high school classes).

Burks: This actually decreases the number of teachers.

McDaniel: Yes, we have a fewer number of students and fewer number of teachers.  The overall number of teachers is 23 less.  (4 less once you factor in adjustment of Parks MS closing).

Burks: We won’t have an answer to this tonight, but I think the question is, when will we have an answer.

McDaniel: Mr. Burbridge do you have anything else regarding your presentation yesterday?

Burbridge says that other outstanding questions are continuing to be researched.

9:57pm Board is now going into executive session.

10:43pm Exec Session has ended

Burbridge gives a final recap.  The FY2014 general fund expenditure budget is $592,018,545.

McDaniel asks for clarification/conversation around class size, school by school as well as personnel savings during future budget discussions.

Burbridge is asked to explain calculation of 1761 teachers in FY14 proposed budget.  Formula is calulated at +5 over max for ES & MS and +3 over max for HS.

View all documents related to the FY14 budget here: http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/Page/35535

June 27th would be date for approval of final budget.

Burks: My last request would be to get some very strong talking points for the Board. There are some key things that need to be communicated effectively, security, bell changes….there are some very specific things that we need to do around the budget that includes talking points.

Vote taken. Opposed are Kinnane and Meister. Vote passes.

This ends our live blog for the evening.

10:52 – End of Blog

5 thoughts on “LIVE BLOG: Special Legislative Meeting – June 6, 2013

Add yours

  1. I certainly agree with that! The administration has done a horrible job breaking down the budget as it relates to curriculum and instruction. It appears we do not know how to explain our academic goals and our budget together. My thoughts, C&I must drive resources. If we are it doing that, what are we doing?

  2. @aps mom Documents from board meetings are always posted on the finance website after the presentation, not during or before. The meeting ended tonight at almost 11pm. We are certain documents will be posted by tomorrow afternoon. The June 5th presentation, for example, was posted by a.m. on today, June 6th. All best efforts are being made to keep the public informed. Thank you for following the blog.

  3. I don’t think the administration has done nearly enough to provide thoughtful, clear information that the Board requested. The Board seems to know far more about funding than is being assumed.
    They do not trust Davis because his information is inaccurate, constantly changing and unclear.
    The presentation from Curriculum and Instruction yesterday was insulting. Davis and his team have been here for 22 months now – they should be able to do better than this!
    I hope the new superintendent will be better informed and choose better deputies.

  4. the documents from tonight’s meeting are NOT up on the website. Please post them

  5. I have attended budget meetings for years and it has never yielded this level of conversation. Makes me think of two things: 1) this board rubber stamped everything Hall said, and it is painfully obvious based on the conversation that this board is not educated on their major responsibility. 2) they do not trust Davis. The strange thing is, I’ve wanted them to do it this way, but is it disconcerting to me that they are unaware of how the funding works for teachers.

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