Chariho School Parents’ Forum

January 29, 2007

Cost increases because they help students, or simply due to contract obligations.

Filed under: Budget,Chariho,National,State-wide,Student Performance — Editor @ 7:40 pm

Does this spending help students?  This was the title of a ProJo OpEd written by Marguerita Roza. 
She is also the author of a report titled “Frozen Assets” with the Education Sector.  If you don’t have time to read the report, at least read the OpEd.

From the report: 

Education is a labor-intensive business—an estimated 60 percent to 80 percent of the more than $500 billion per year spent operating the nation’s public schools goes directly to paying and supporting school employees, and teacher contracts play a big role in determining where such resources are deployed. Much of the money is directed to basic salary costs. But many common provisions of teacher contracts require school districts to spend substantial sums to implement policies which research has shown have a weak or inconsistent relationship with student learning. This report examines eight such provisions:  

Increases in teacher salaries based on years of experience;   

Increases in teacher salaries based on educational credentials and experiences;   

Professional development days;   

Number of paid sick and personal days;   

Class-size limitations;   

Use of teachers’ aides;   

Generous health and insurance benefits; and   

Generous retirement benefits. 

The report estimates the total spending on these provisions in public education, examines studies on the provisions’ effects on student achievement, and explores how these “frozen assets” might be put to different use. Our analysis estimates that an average of 19 percent of every school district’s budget is locked up by these eight provisions.

 As I wrote in the previous post – in our $51M budget, $47.6M is for:  Instruction, Special Services, General Support, Administration and Fixed Charges.



  1. No insult Mr. Felkner, but I don’t think most people need an expert to tell us that a large amount of our eduational dollars do nothing to help our children. Like more government entities, this is about unions and power…the best we can hope for is to restrain growth. I read the articles and agree with the insights, but understanding the issue is not the problem. I wish it were.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 30, 2007 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

  2. Then your comment begs the question – why do we keep doing it? The unions do not make the rules they only make requests. School boards make the final decision and voters elect the school board. Considering most elected officials are incumbents, the voters know what they will do by looking at the past. Maybe the question should be – why do we keep electing people who do things we don’t like?

    Comment by cspf — January 31, 2007 @ 6:34 am | Reply

  3. I engage in these issues to educate myself and others. I ask questions and offer opinions hoping other people (read: voters) will take heed and pay attention to the issues. I believe voters elect poor representatives because they are misinformed. In our area, it seems that The Sun has the strongest influence on local issues. I don’t even read the newspaper out of fear that I might believe something they write…and I know better. I imagine that I’m atypical, and most voters read it, believe it, and vote accordingly.

    I think the other factor in play is what happens to people once they are elected. Let’s say you run for the school committee with every intention of limiting spending and making decisions that are best for our children. I fear that in short order, the best intentions often get misdirected by constant exposure to those with a vested interest in the status quo. I could see Chariho adminsitrations constant cry for more money eventually overwhelming the inclination to give them less.

    I attended one school board meeting where the superintendent and his minions had the floor for an hour. They had a well put together presentation; likely spent hours strategizing; and they interact personally with the school committee on a regular basis. Committee members asked a few questions, but mostly the communication flowed in one direction. When objections were posed, they were dealt with quickly and with little thought and the presentation moved forward with the goal to convince all that the administrations’ vision was the correct course of action.

    Contrast this with the voters’ participation. No presentation…no hours dedicated to strategy or research. Just a few words dismissed by the board and/or the administration and forward they march. At the meeting I attended, I had hoped to hear you speak about the issues presented. I’m not sure who you are, but no board member spoke for more than few minutes at a time. Certainly, no one with a differing opinion of the school budget and policies had anywhere near the opportunity to speak as did the school administration. There were no other presentations and no organized oppositional viewpoints were offered.

    I watched Mr. Petit in this environment and thought to myself, “we are going to lose him”. He spoke a few words, but was tentative and, in my opinion, intimidated by the environment which clearly gave deference to the administration. This is not a criticism as I suspect I would act the same way, but it was interesting to note, and I don’t think it serves us well.

    Perhaps the board could come up with a process that allowed for more give and take? Maybe instead of giving the administration carte blanche on budget proposals they are intead mandated to make presentations encompassing several budget scenarios? While I’m sure they would still focus on the higher spending budgets where they stand to gain the most personally and emotionally, at least then maybe the voters and the board would get a better understanding of all the options?

    I don’t have the definitive answer. I know that I don’t like the way things turn out under the status quo. So when I suggest things like building 100 houses with the $30,000,000, I’m simply trying to get others to look at the issues from a different angle. The existing paradigm serves educators very well, but it does nothing to help taxpayers or children. Something needs to change.

    Comment by Curious Resident — January 31, 2007 @ 11:29 am | Reply

  4. […] if we didn’t allow such misuse of our taxes we wouldn’t have such a high per pupil cost for education.  Remember, RI’s per pupil […]

    Pingback by Taxpayer funded advocacy « Chariho School Parents’ Forum — April 5, 2007 @ 10:29 am | Reply

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