Tuesday, April 08, 2008
How The DOE Can Save Money The Next School Year
We all know that the DOE must reduce it's budget next year by 324 million dollars. That is a significant cut in the education budget and will mean tightening the financial belt for the schools. Where will these budget cuts fall on? If past experience is an indication, it will be on the schools and not the central bureaucracy. This year's cuts of 180 million dollars resulted in only 15 million dollars being cut from Tweed (maybe less if some consultant services budgeted for were discontinued or delayed), not the 100 million dollars originally claimed by the DOE. All the rest came from the schools with some large high schools getting over a $400,000 dollar budget cut. Painful is not the word. These budget cuts caused a reduction in tutoring programs, club activities, and after school programs. Meanwhile Tweed gave the "Quality Review" international consultants a 9% increase in their contract. The priorities by Tweed is very obvious to me, screw the schools but keep the central bureaucracy and their highly paid consultants satisfied. DOE's "Children Last" program continues unabated. An article by Dan Brown in the Huffington Post about the damage budget cuts have done to the schools can be found Here
The question is what happens net year? Where will the cuts be? Being realistic, I see DOE continuing to cut school budgets but hold the line for the central bureaucracy. Tweed might snip a consultant or two off the DOE money train. Just Tweed window dressing but nothing too significant.
For the next school year I believe the DOE can save significant funds if they follow my advice.
First, place all ATR's in schools and stop hiring newbie teachers until all excessed teachers are placed in the classroom. With 1000+ ATR's the DOE is not only wasting talent and experience but is paying almost 80 million dollars for these ATR's to be day-to-day subs or do clerical work.
Second, as I have stated previously, more and more teachers have been removed from the classroom and warehoused in "rubber rooms" . There is probably at least 800 such teachers, not included teachers that are taken out of the classroom and sitting in schools while waiting for reassignment to the "rubber rooms". Of the reassigned teachers, probably 10% belong there. However, the rest are there for false, minor, or frivolous misconduct charges or accused of incompetence because the administrator doesn't like them. How much money is wasted by the DOE? My best guess is 58 million dollars (this figure assumes that the 90% of the "rubber room" teachers do not belong there). That means 137 million dollars are wasted between the ATR's and the "rubber room" teachers!
Third, eliminate the principal leadership academy and the 17 million dollars that the DOE has allocated to continue it or some other principal development program next year. In a year where money is tight, how can the DOE justify spending an additional 17 million dollars on such a wasteful program that results in principals with little classroom experience.
Fourth, discontinue, disband, or don't even start these wasteful "Data Inquiry Teams" that spend precious money to collect data that is of little use to the schools.
Fifth, Severely cut down on the highly-paid consultant services that draw money away from the schools and their students. A case in point is the 80 million dollar AIRS supercomputer system that has not worked properly yet.
Sixth, ensure that the central bureaucracy get their fare share of budget cuts. Based upon this year you can't trust Tweed to fairly allocated budget cuts. Transparency is a must to show that the budget cuts are evenly distributed between the bureaucracy and the schools.
Finally, stop the "Tweed "Gotcha Squad" that will waste one million dollars on how to stop tenure and document teacher incompetence.
I don't pretend to know how much my recommendations will save but it would put a significant dent in the reduced budget given to the DOE by Bloomberg. Of course I don't expect any of my recommendations to be considered by the DOE. Therefore, the DOE's "Children Last" policy will continue as the schools and students suffer while the bureaucrats at Tweed are little affected.