Buncombe Co Bd Of Ed Members

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This message is the opinion of Lisa Baldwin and is not intended to represent the official position of the Buncombe County Schools or the Buncombe County Board of Education.

Help Buncombe County Schools put the education of children first, focusing taxpayer dollars on the classroom. Please attend the June 2, 2011 open school board meeting at 6:30pm and the June 30, 2011 special meeting to pass the 2011-12 budget (time to be announced). Both meetings held at the central school office, 175 Bingham Rd., Asheville, 28806.

Background

The Buncombe County School system is the 11th largest in the state and the second largest employer in the county. The proposed 2011-12 budget is over $250 million dollars.

Taxpayers need to hold the school board accountable for how the money is allocated within constraints applied by state and federal governments. Input from stakeholders should be a valued part of the budget process. Taxpayers should be heard on issues BEFORE decisions are made and actions taken. The Board should then consider that input and use it to refine administrative recommendations, not just rubber-stamp them.

The main issues to be addressed are the transparency and budget concerns listed below. Contact Lisa Baldwin for more information at rtbaldwin2@charter.net or 628-9537. Contact information for all school board members can be found at www.buncombe.k12.nc.us under Board of Education.

Transparency

1. Move the public comment period from the end of the meeting to before the action/consent agenda so that concerns can be expressed before being voted on. Lisa Baldwin has made 1 motion to this effect which was voted down 6-1. She also suggested it in a memo to the board chair and superintendent.
2. Televise the school board meetings. The Board unanimously voted to have the administration look into televising the meetings. The communications director sent a memo attaching a cost of $80,000 to this transparent action. The superintendent recommended waiting until 2012-13 to implement, when he expects special STEM classes to be held at the central office where the video equipment could be used by students. The estimated cost for the Asheville City Schools’ staff to come and tape Board meetings with their equipment would be about $1,000 per meeting. Lisa Baldwin recommended that the audio feed be placed on the school website until we can get the meetings televised.
3. The special school board budget work session on April 26, 2011 did not feature the actual preliminary budget, only reductions that would be made compared with this year’s budget and the House budget. State law says school board members must have the preliminary budget by May 1 but school board members were not notified that it had been posted as a link on the May 5 regular meeting agenda. County Commissioners must have the BCS preliminary budget by May 15.
4. Set priorities, long range goals and strategic plans with input from the public and the school board. Use these goals to measure improvement.
5. Hold monthly work sessions as Asheville City Schools, Henderson County, etc. do – Lisa Baldwin has made three motions to begin having monthly work sessions to discuss important issues and determine priorities but was voted down 6-1 each time. The Board prefers to call work sessions only when deemed necessary.

Cost Saving Measures

1. Local pay supplements intended to attract and retain quality teachers are received by all BCS employees – this is not the norm in other counties according to Phil Price, CFO of the NC Dept. of Public Instruction. Continuing to pay the supplement to teachers but eliminating it for all others results in Savings = $5 million. Non-licensed employees receive an amount equal to 10.77% of their base salary as a lump sum supplement every November; even if this were cut in half, BCS could save $2.5 million. Savings could go toward merit pay for teachers or to increasing the equity between schools, offering equal educational opportunities to all students.
2. Pay cuts to principals receiving as much as $12,000 annually in extra-duty pay for attending sporting events and concerts. Savings = $583,009 (for more information and detailed chart visit www.theashevilletribune.com, select “Asheville Tribune” and the article “Looking at Buncombe County School Principals’ Pay”). School districts like Cabarrus County only pay a local supplement (lump sum payment in November) to compensate principals for attending sporting events, band concerts, etc. Buncombe County Schools pays both the local supplement and the extra duty pay. According to the extra duty pay schedule, monthly amounts range from $300 for elementary asst. principals to $1,000 for high school principals.
3. Possible BCS Superintendent pay cut after receiving $30,457.96 in additional salary and benefits for the 2010-11 school year. The Wake County Superintendent is taking a 10% pay cut – Lead by example. Savings of a 10% pay cut to base salary = $15,000. Salary increases should be based on attaining performance or achievement goals.
The $30,457.96 is made up of:
$15,648* provided in his original contract, effective with the beginning of fiscal year 2009-10;
$ 7,809.96 in support for family health insurance coverage;
$ 7,000 in support of a 457 contribution. Both were in an approved 2010-11 contract revision.

*The original contract specified a base salary of $150,000 per year, of which $134,352 can be paid with State funds (all the state salary schedule allows), leaving $15,648 to be paid locally. According to the NC DPI 2010-11 NC Superintendent Salary Schedule for schools with enrollment over 25,000, Dr. Baldwin is at the top of the base salary scale at $134,352. His advanced degree commands $3,036 more per year. Meanwhile, teacher’s salaries have been frozen for 2 years.

4. Administrators receiving National Board Certified Teacher pay – this significant raise (12%) is intended for those in teaching positions, not administrative employees. The state funds this raise for teachers, not central office employees. If cut, the schools would achieve Savings = $54,463.
5. Don’t open the two new intermediate schools (cost to build – $31 million) this year (due to construction delays, they may not open until about 2 months after school starts). Instead, maximize enrollment at schools that are under capacity by offering open enrollment and special learning models to attract parents. Re-draw attendance lines (at the elementary level) to better balance school enrollment, increase equity (equal opportunities for all students) between schools and maximize education dollars. Savings= $2.6 million in operating costs
6. Capital outlay money should be prioritized by 1) Safety, 2) Efficiency, 3) Nice-to-have but not necessary in a time of budget cuts. Ask state legislators for flexibility in spending some of this money on teacher salaries. Article 40/42 sales tax revenues fund this account. Unique to Buncombe County Schools are receipts from Article 39 sales tax revenues. This money is used to service debt.
7. Privatizing custodial, transportation or even maintenance departments could save money. Durham County Public Schools saved close to $1 million by phasing in the privatization of their custodial staff.
8. Look into the feasibility of a merger with Asheville City Schools (serves only 3,700 students). Might be major savings in elimination of overlapping administrative costs, therefore freeing up $ for use in classrooms.
9. Draw from $8 million fund balance – This is the RAINY DAY! Currently $2.5 million has been appropriated for the 2011-12 school year. The former Forsyth County Schools CFO recommends having at least one month’s operating expenses in the fund balance. (The Forsyth County School system maintins a zero fund balance.) School officials have the option of asking for money from the Buncombe County Commissioner’s $7.9 million fund balance if needed for an emergency. If we left $1 million in the BCS fund balance, that would free up $7 million. But need to plan for the following year, 2012-13, so possibly split the money between the two years.

This message is the opinion of Lisa Baldwin and is not intended to represent the official position of the Buncombe County Schools or the Buncombe County Board of Education.