Feb 13, 2011

Finding Alternatives to DCPS Furloughs!

By Candi Peterson
The Balanced Budget Furlough Emergency Act of 2011 which calls for furloughs of DC government employees has caught the attention of all of us. Budget cuts have been no stranger to the District of Columbia public schools (DCPS). Teachers, school personnel and students have often had to bear the brunt of administrator over-spending. In fiscal year 2010, under the Rhee/Henderson administration, 266 educators were wrongfully terminated allegedly due to a budget deficit they didn’t help create.

Displeased with the emergency legislation that only reduces costs through emergency furloughing, WTU Executive Board passed a motion authorizing the union leadership to identify other alternatives that would avoid the need for furloughs. WTU agreed to compile your ideas on how we could achieve long-term cost savings in our public schools. Listed below are many of your recommendations from posts and emails we have received, thus far :

Alternatives to Furloughs

Allow employees to donate sick days in lieu of furlough days
Conduct a forensic audit of DCPS to identify waste/fraud
Close excess schools
Cut back on AP courses and enrollments
Cut printing costs of IMPACT evaluation booklets
Cut the following non-instructional teacher work days:
February 18 – Professional Development day
February 28- Parent Conference day –( this is less desirable than the May 16 Parent Conference day)
March 18 – Professional Development day
May 16 - Parent Conference Day
Discontinue non-essential testing of students
Don't add more International Baccalaureate Programs
Eliminate July 4 as a furlough day as teachers/school personnel are in a non-pay status

Eliminate Master Educators’ positions and relegate teacher/school personnel evaluations to principals and/or managers/supervisors
Eliminate perks for management, such as iPhone voice and data plans
Eliminate Teach For America contract and hire outright

Eliminate the partnership between Anacostia SHS and Friendship. We don’t need to pay the salaries of additional administrative staff
Eliminate the August professional development day for teachers/school personnel
End credit recovery
End school one day early when students aren’t in school
Furlough on professional development days, not holidays which will reduce savings in the form of energy costs and closed buildings
Increase computer usage versus excessive paper usage in schools, stop massive copying and worksheets
Place a moratorium on administrator bonus pay
Put an end to DCPS contracts that aren’t justified
Reduce the # of administrative positions in central office
Reduce the # of DC BAS tests given
Reduce the amount of administrative salaries in central office by setting a cap on six figure salaries
Reduce costs through energy savings (i.e. get thermostats on radiators, reduce excessive heat and AC, put hand air-dryers in bathrooms)
Reduce DCPS Executive staff salaries
Reduce Pre-K to half day
Reduce the # of Instructional Coach positions per school
Reduce the # of newly acquired Instructional Superintendent positions
Reduce the # of Special Education Program Manager positions (from 3 per discipline to 1 per discipline)
Reduce out of control spending in the special education budget
Rent out underutilized schools
Review money spent on consultants and organizations (i.e. Kaplan) and cut costs
Stop excessive meetings for DCPS staff at alternative locations by promoting video conferencing
Use vacant school buildings instead of renting space for government administrative offices
Work four- 10 hour days
The WTU will be forwarding all of your ideas to Mayor Gray for consideration. Thanks for your input.

© Candi Peterson 2013


Anonymous said...

Copying and worksheets are a waste of time but considering most of us only get a meager supply and bring our own paper, I would hate to see even less supplies distributed to teachers.

With regards to contract schools, how much are they getting paid currently? They got huge amounts of money for what? Let them be DCPS or charter but for DCPS to be paying for Friends of Bedford and Friendship makes no sense. This needs to be halted now. Regardless of whose fault it was Dunbar was a fiasco.

The recent glossy IMPACT/PD book a complete and utter waste of time. To tell me I can go check out the website to see what training is available!!!

I_educ8 said...

Excellent compilation, Candi. Let's hope Mayor Gray & Co. seriously consider these great ideas before they illegally take our pay on holidays.

Anonymous said...

How about moving the floating principal named Pope into a school for his salary. Instead of hiring a principal from Montgomery County; again , I thought there was a hiring freeze? Better yet, why not have the incoming principal Skerritt who's at full salary for Eastern next school year 2011 take on some responsibility. Combined they are bringing about 200k+ without the full duties of being a principal. It surely would be nice if I could have on the job-training for about 7-months before assuming the rights and responsbilities of a high-school. Who doesn't remember the old-days when chaos erupted at any school it was the assistant superintendents who came to the rescue? But not this group.

Anonymous said...

Great list.

But why not add The Elephant in the Room: abolish 5 percent of all positions in admin, instructional, CO staff--all staff categories. (Five percent is a floor--the number could be higher.)

I'd be the last one to say we have no low- or non-performers in all job categories. Let's bite the bullet and get it done.

A second Elephant: over-sized, ill managed SPED budget. Do we have a mayor, a City Council, an acting Chancellor, and a Union with the determination to right-size the excessive drain on resources??? There is enough for the deserving SPED kids (every one of them), but the program has to be well managed, rather than bled by people who have special economic interests and insufficient concern for the educational welfare of the District's families and children as a whole. We can do it. Some of the money we need is there, and it is not untouchable. We just have to pull up our socks--all of us: parents, DCPS employees and management, and elected officials.

Anonymous said...

Stop paying "combat pay" for principals who leave west of the Park schools to accept a position at challenging schools east of the Park. Where is the equity for those principals and teachers who deal with these challenges daily? Incidentally, the school/s have not improved under these "miracle workers."

Anonymous said...

Candi, sorry to be off-topic, but do you know whether or not the decision to reinstate the 2008 probationary teachers will affect the 2009 probationary teachers who were terminated, as well?

Anonymous said...

If this is true, we need to be looking at more than saving on copy paper.
"A New Set of Layoffs Coming in DCPS? http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/a-new-set-of-layoffs-coming-in-dcps/

Here is a letter that an anonymous poster wrote to several local newspaper reporters and to me. It indicates that the frantic spending spree initiated by Fenty and Rhee is going to cause massive layoffs in DCPS, upsetting the education of many students, and disrupting the lives of many staff members. I don’t know if all of the details are accurate, but I recommend reading it:"

I'm sure it would be Candi can't say, in her role it would be unethical until it is official but drastic measures are obvioulsy needed, and people we need to get busy...

TeachHard said...

I don't think any of us would mind half as much if we were actually being furloughed. If they said hey times are tough, we need to give you four days off without pay I think we could all agree it sucks, but who really wouldn't mind four extra days off. What they are doing is not a furlough. They are picking our pockets. Robbing Peter to pay Paul.

i was wondering said...

Candi, does the WTU have any information on the number of teachers leaving DCPS right now. one of your readers stated he/she was leaving before being IMPACTed out. i heard an administrator say teachers were leaving all over the system. how widespread is this phenomenon?

Anonymous said...

I fear this is all too late, when we are hearing about lay-offs and using IMPACT to send us back where we came from I don't think anyone is listening. But enough teachers are angry (veteran and new) maybe it's time to reach out to the ranks again to capture the mood while you can, we have to get all of us on board with the Union again. We also have to stop fighting in our ranks, even the current ICs must be sick and tired by now.

Anonymous said...

This is a quote about New York school system:
"I propose that the system start NOW to eliminate all non-essential contracts, such as the $5 million it spends on the New Teacher Project to recruit teachers even when there are no vacancies". If we are laying off teachers in DC, the same rule applies, is there currently a teacher crisis and are we paying TFA, New Teacher Program, and DC Teaching Fellows. If we are this must stop, let's work with the teachers we currently have to make them (if needed) better.

Erich Martel said...

Many of these ideas on your blog are excellent.
Why not link recommended forensic audit to all central staff positions, consultants, etc.
Reduce testing expenses:
1) Reduce the number of DC BAS tests (they cost money and take away instructional time) and there seems to be little relationship between DC BAS scores and DC CAS results.
2) Don't add more International Baccalaureate Programs. That's expensive, because a school has to buy the full program, not just the tests for individual courses, like the College Board's AP exams.
3) Cut back on AP courses and enrollments. AP courses are supposed to be college level, not college prep. HS teachers know that hundreds of students are being enrolled in APcourses despite lack of readiness or interest and then required to take AP exams, which many schools pay for. Teachers are no longer asked to make recommendations.
4) End Credit Recovery: CR undermines student responsibility, contributes to poor behavior and truancy, while allowing DCPS to inflate its graduation number. Summer school courses and STAY should charge a minimal fee. Students who fail during the free day programs should not be further coddled by giving them free night school programs.
Cut back on summer school programs. Class meeting hours should be 125 hours long (the length of AB or 4x4 high school periods), not 82 hours.
5) Give the DC CAS in mid-May, that way schools will be motivated to keep enrollment up for another month.
6) Are after-school coordinator salaries well spent (EG11)? Could they be more effectively spent on in house extra-duty pay? In many schools, I hear that much of their work is make-work:
a) Supervising Credit Recovery
b) Requiring all after school clubs to register and be assigned a course code, etc.
c) To make their jobs appear more indispensible, fake courses are created or activities, like sports, which are supervised by the coaches, are turned into after school activities with additional paperwork.

Erich Martel
Phelps ACE HS

Anonymous said...

Isn't DCPS hiring all the time because there are teachers leaving all the time, voluntarily or not.? And let's not assume the Rhee firees will all be rehired. Truly, am not sure if it is a good idea to bring them all back. Does anyone share this hesitation???

Anonymous said...

To respond to I was wondering,
I left DCPS!
It's a hot mess. But this list of suggestions is empowering. I am curious to see whether any of the suggestions will be taken.

Anonymous said...

Today's paper reports a pro bono audit by Deloitte of savings opportunities in DCPS. DCPS could use the help.

I hope it covers special ed, the time-wasting assignments of teachers and teacher idleness.

It also should cover Impact. I want to see what this independent analysis says about the cost-benefits of Impact. I hope Impact remains in the Deloitte scope of work. If it is cut, that is not in the interests of the school system. We need an answer. There is no chance IMPACT will be scrapped without a replacement, so let us get it the best we can, for the good of all.

Candi Peterson said...

Anonymous Feb 15 @ 3:26

I don't have the answer to your question at least not as of yet regarding 2009 probationary teachers. The successful arbitration for 2008 probationary teachers is reason to feel encouraged.

Candi Peterson said...

Answering to I was wondering:

DCPS is not sharing the number of teachers leaving the school system voluntarily.

Anonymous said...

In addition to removing the partnership from Friendship and Anacostia the partnership team should be removed from Coolidge.

I agree the ECR should be eliminated, there is no need for an additional staff member who does not contribute to the welfare of the school environment. Many ECR coordinators do not stay until the end of their tour of duty and are being compensated.

Additionally, summer school should not be free. Summer school is seen as a way out for students and allows them to slack off during the school year. If the district started charging as neighboring counties do...students would indeed do better during the school year.

DC-BAS tests should happen twice a year instead of four times. The trainings are a waste of time and money. The students do not take the test seriously or parents, it is a waste of time, resources, and above all money that can be used to properly educate students.

Central office positions should be kept on an as needed basis, as there are some positions that are necessary to ensure schools are run accordingly.

School budgets should be looked at with a fine tooth comb, ipads, administrator cell phones, and similar electronic equipment should be reduced.

The sped budget should be looked at carefully and investigated before any cuts are made. As we do not want another lawsuit in reference to special education students and the lack of education, as the district can not afford another payout.