Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shelton: Funding is biggest problem for state's school districts

This from cn/2:
Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton, who will be leaving that position on Jan. 1 to become the executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, says funding is the biggest challenge facing Kentucky’s 173 school districts.

“We’ve been woefully underfunded in Kentucky,” Shelton said. “Yet Kentucky is seen as a leader in the focus that we’ve had with Senate Bill 1, with implementation of common core standards, alignment of postsecondary, focus on a new assessment system which we’ve implemented over the last three years, and yet we’ve had to do that with zero additional funding, actually reduced funding.”

Shelton also told Pure Politics that charter schools should probably be explored as an educational option for the state.

“We have to be willing to look a different ways to of helping those students become successful because we owe it to all children for them to have that opportunity,” he said. “But if we’re going to look at charter schools, then we need to define what we mean by charter schools.”

Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen recently completed an audit of the Fayette County system and uncovered chronic mismanagement of the district’s budget and finances, but he found no missing money or criminal wrongdoing.

Shelton declined to address his reasons for leaving the district or the results of the audit.


Anonymous said...

If funding is the major problem for schools in KY, does it make sense to say charter schools are a potential solution to education woes? Charter schools increase financial stress on public school systems, decreasing the funding available to students who remain in traditional schools.

Anonymous said...

By far the biggest part of any school/district budget is personnel, so when we talk about funding we are really talking about personnel and benefits. There are only so many trims you can do on M & O before you have to start cutting people/funding on people.

KTRS is predicting about a 40% turn over in the the next 3-5 years as retirees start to leave the classrooms and schools. At first it sounds good because a district could potentially save a little money on cheaper, younger teachers to fill the ranks.

Problem is we will lose a significant amount of experience and leadership with this change. Additionally, it is my perception that younger teachers are simply not cut from the same cloth as those who are retiring when it comes to practice, sacrifice and expectations. That is not intended as a slight, as I believe many of us seasoned folks have allowed our lives to grow toward imbalance because of our skewed sense of loyalty and responsibility.

The fact is many young folks aren't going to endure the growing pressures which are being put on educators (teachers and beginning administrators) for salaries which will barely keep them afloat in paying off their college loans, much less cultivating a comfortable life style for their potential families.

The accountability system (like its predecessors) will eventually implode as the unrealistic rate of academic growth numbers will never measure up to resources or the multitudes of factors which teachers have no influence over regarding student performance.

I sense that today's young teachers want purposeful lives/career. Most of the educators I know don't find purpose (and certainly not monetary reward like their business model counterparts) in getting high marks on their schools program review, increasing a growth score or besting the next county over in their school index score. All there is is temporary relief for the staff for a few months with contrived celebrations as fleeting in their meaning and endurance as the cheap plastic banners we hang up in front of the school telling us that our children achieved something - though we are probably not completely sure how it was determined ro even what it means.

Let's face it folks, there's not going to be anymore money thanks to our dated tax codes, low SES population and empty state coffers. Putting more regulations and tasks on teachers and administrators without adequate resources and personnel is just going make them leave the profession in larger numbers as enrollments in teacher prep programs continue to drop.

Pretty soon you grandchild is going to be taught by some TFA recent grad who needs a temp job to make ends meet while he or she works on getting their intended career jump started. All the while retirees double dip the system subbing or consulting on 100 day contracts (for folks hired to do the retiree's job) to supplement their KTRS check.

So then we see KY do like other states in the same spot and lower certification standards just to get warm bodies to lead classrooms. All this compliance jive with CIITS, PGES, gap, growth, program reviews, etc becomes a moot point because no one is around any longer to explain it or achieve it.

Not trying to paint some bleak picture but bottom line is you get what you pay for. You try to do things on the cheap and short changing your staff, you end up with shoty products and staff not committed to the better system or the product they are building. I think the often idealized business model would substantiate that result.