Sunday, January 11, 2009

Profitting from kindergarteners

That's right...the school board is selling the proposed 4-year old kindergarten program as a slam-dunk because the school district will actually make a profit from it!!!!

Of course, in any transaction, when one party "profits", isn't it typically the case that another party loses? We don't hear this plan being a win-win for all parties we? So who is being taken advantage of in this situation?

Is it the partnering childcare centers that are being exploited? These businesses will receive (according to the proposal) $3,000 per 4-yr old child in return for providing the teachers and space for educating 4-yr olds according to state curriculum requirements. And those payments will increase 3% per year!!!!!

If the district receive $5-6,000 per enrolled 4-year old and we're only paying the childcare centers $3,000 per kid...that would be a nice profit. And to offer only a 3% increase per year when we know we increase costs by 5-10% routinely is poor form. Heck...district employee salaries alone were increased by 4-5% last year! So that's it childcare centers. You do get a great source of revenue....but only 50-67% of what the district gets. And you only get a fixed increase of 3% per year, while the district knows that its costs increase about double that annually.

Or is it the state and taxpayers that's being exploited? The school board and district administration constantly remind us that school finance funding is "one big pie" and state equalization aids is the way the "pie" is doled out to all districts. If we understand the district correctly, if SPASD will actually receive MORE state aid, then understandably, everyone else receives LESS state aid...right? So we gain by screwing all the other kids in the state, is that it?

Of course, the Democratic controlled state legislature could vote to increase school funding in addition to lifting the QEO...right? Sure...that COULD happen....but what's the likelihood that it WILL happen in the wake of a $5-6 BILLION dollar state budget deficit and an ongoing recession surpassed only by the great depression. In fact, less state revenues might have to mean LESS money for which case any SPASD budget shortfall would have to be covered taxpayers.

You DO NOT know what the next 9 months will entail for this city, this school district, this state or the nation. You cannot guarantee that state aid money that you THINK will be there WILL be there. There our too many unknowns regarding finances and now is not the time to spend money.

So, dear school board members....for once in your collective tenures....perhaps this is the time to say, "Hey...we're really jazzed about the prospect of having 4-yr old kindergarten, but unfortunately the economic prospect of doing so in 2009-10 doesn't look good."