Not much talk at schools chat - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Not much talk at schools chat

Only four people speak to Coeur d'Alene board members

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Posted: Friday, December 3, 2010 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - The public wasn't feeling very chatty.

The Coeur d'Alene School District's second in a series of special board meetings - "community chats" designed to encourage public comment and get feedback regarding a proposed maintenance and operations levy - attracted only about 20 non-school district personnel Thursday to the Midtown Center.

Of those in attendance, just four had something to say, and there wasn't much discussion about the levy.

"We're trying to listen," said Superintendent Hazel Bauman, following the 50-minute session.

The informal dialogue meetings were set up following the board's decision at the start of the school year to limit public testimony to agenda items only at their regular monthly meetings.

At the start of Thursday's chat meeting, Bauman gave a presentation about the levy proposal that will go before voters March 8, and answered questions that came up at the first chat-style meeting held last month, especially what could happen if voters fail to approve a levy. That meeting brought nearly 100 people out, and 30 of them took the opportunity to address the board.

The board plans to set the amount of the levy at its Jan. 10 meeting.

The proposal is for a menu-style ballot, offering voters the opportunity to support just a replacement levy of $7.8 million per year for two years, or to renew the $7.8 million levy and increase it annually for two years by another set amount: $2.3 million, $3.7 million, or $5 million.

The cost to taxpayers depends on the amount approved. It is estimated the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $105.68 annually to maintain the $7.8 million levy only.

Should taxpayers approve an additional $5 million, the same homeowner will pay an estimated $173.70 per year.

If voters fail to approve any levy, the district will experience a 23 percent budget shortfall of $13 million for the next school year.

Bauman said they will have to cut 115 full-time, and 165 part-time, support positions which include classroom aides, crossing guards, custodians, tech support, bus drivers and library personnel, and three full-time assistant principals from the middle and high schools. Activities budgets would be eliminated, as would textbook purchases, school resource officers, most supply purchases and technology support.

Up to 20 days could be furloughed from the school calendar.

If voters approve the replacement levy only, the district will still experience a 9 percent budget shortfall of $5 million. There will be budget cuts in the same areas, but they will be proportionately smaller. For example, activities budgets will be reduced rather than eliminated.

The only scenario in which there will be no budget shortfall is if voters approve a replacement levy of $7.8 million, and an additional $5 million, for a total levy of nearly $13 million.

Bauman said even in that case, there could still be some cuts if the state reduces its support to schools further during the next legislative session.

The rest of the meeting turned into a dialogue between Bauman, the trustees, and Duncan Koler, a Hayden parent who removed his children from district schools in favor of home schooling.

Koler has been critical of the district's decision to continue offering the International Baccalaureate advanced learning high school program, and an elementary school IB program.

He chastised the board for limiting public input at their regular meetings.

"The excuse that's been offered up to the public about why you need to cut off public comment is a bogus excuse," Koler said. "There wasn't any filibustering of those meetings. There was legitimate public concern regarding that program (IB) which still exists today."

Koler asked board chair Edie Brooks why the policy has been enforced since October when it has not been formally adopted by the district. It is likely the new policy will be an agenda item at the board's regular meeting scheduled for Monday.

"When we have our regular meetings, we are having a meeting in public, not a public meeting, so we're trying to do business of the district and get it done without having it go on for a long period of time on subjects that aren't on the agenda," Brooks said. "We like to stick to the agenda and have these meetings where we can bring up any subject that anyone would like to talk about."

Superintendent Hazel Bauman said the board can change a policy without following the district's policy procedure.

"We checked with legal counsel on that. It's preferable to go through the procedure of a policy change, so there is input and there has been input on this change in the policy," Bauman said.

Bauman asked Koler if any number of community chat-style meetings would provide what he considers a satisfactory way for the board to receive public input outside of the regular monthly meetings.

Koler pointed out that the regular monthly meetings are recorded and broadcast on the local cable access station, Time Warner Channel 19, so people who cannot attend the meetings are able to "see what's going on."

The "community chats" are not recorded and broadcast.

"So in effect, you've stifled the opportunities for those concerns to be brought to the public at large. That's my concern," Koler said. "I would just urge the board not to adopt the change policy at the meeting this Monday."

The policy on public commentary at regular board meetings also limits testimony to three minutes per person, and prohibits the audio or video recording of meetings by anyone other than members of the media.

Another community chat meeting will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Hayden Kinder Center on Government Way in Hayden.

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  • local res posted at 11:20 pm on Sun, Dec 26, 2010.

    local res Posts: 1165

    How come more of YOU people don't run for the school board????

  • akellyhayden posted at 10:57 pm on Sat, Dec 4, 2010.

    akellyhayden Posts: 9

    Is there really a clear cut solution to this problem? No one needs to resign, no one needs to sling mud, and no one deserves to be blamed. People are given a job to do and most do it to the best of their ability. We can't complain about our education system and how poorly we rank on one hand, and complain about what it costs us on the other. We are educating future adults who may very well be making decisions for us as we sit in wheel chairs drooling and in diapers. There has to be some investment.
    Maybe school officials should take a pay cut, but I certainly do not think that the people who are educating our children should be paid less than those who pick up our trash on a weekly basis (no offense intended).
    Maybe people should spend less time arguing and telling each other how wrong they are and more time working together to come up with a solution. Just a thought....

  • mister d posted at 5:46 pm on Sat, Dec 4, 2010.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    For all school districts the majority of the budget goes for salaries that's a given and understandable. You are right Randy, there might be a couple of teachers making close to $60,000 after 15 years and about $50,000 plus in personal expenses to get the education needed for the pay. I still don't see the figure $60,000 on the certified pay scale but oh well we can round up.

    Denial greyhound2 - the only denial is you making false statements as fact with nothing to prove them - once again.

  • greyhound2 posted at 3:28 pm on Sat, Dec 4, 2010.

    greyhound2 Posts: 897

    mister d,

    If you are in a state of denial, you can not solve any problems, because you are in a state of denial.

  • Randy Myers posted at 1:54 pm on Sat, Dec 4, 2010.

    Randy Myers Posts: 1635

    @mister more carefully. greyhound said 80% of the BUDGET going towards salaries where *some* teachers make 60k etc. is pretty close.

    @Wannabe JD ...I agree that administrative cost is WAY too high.

    @rad.......Try to stay on topic for once.

    In a nutshell...Not enough salary reductions and administrative restructuring is offered. I predict the levy will fail which is too bad. I think with some out of the box thinking and changes to save costs most would support a levy. Just a standard type cutting, calling it "menu style," isn't going to do it for SD271.

  • mister d posted at 6:15 pm on Fri, Dec 3, 2010.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    tracy644, you are correct. Greyhound2 likes to throw around numbers but he never validates them. He threw out the 30% drop out rate for Post Falls also but when asked where he got the number, he disappears. I have little faith in whatever this person says.

    80% of the CDA teachers making $60,000 per year plus benefits - HAHAHAHAHAHAHA - what planet is he on?? If the school year is dropped back to 160 days the teacher pay drops back also but I guess stating so wouldn't be enough drama for the dog.

    Kootenai County Schools consistantly rank high in the national test averages according to articles in the CDA Press, but then again stating it correctly wouldn't be enough drama for the dog again.

    The only thing that doesn't look good is the dogs data collection and need for passing along misinformation.

  • WannaBe JD posted at 9:53 am on Fri, Dec 3, 2010.

    WannaBe JD Posts: 110

    What’s there to talk about? Until Hazel resigns and/or gets rid of her two asst. Sups were spinning our wheels. Were terribly over paying for incompetence at most levels of that school district.

  • RadRevD posted at 8:56 am on Fri, Dec 3, 2010.

    RadRevD Posts: 3333

    I thought th number of teaching days was mandated by the feds or state. Milwaukee Public Schools micromanaged theirs down to teaching minutes!

    I couldn't make it last night due to work schedule. I had asked why SD271 hasn't pursued impact fees on new subdivisions that require new schools to be built within close proximity. That issue is significant where the budget is concerned. Not even a one-line remark is offered in the 'answering of questions' from last month. Leadership at all levels refuse to burden development - it's so much more convenient to place the burden on the backs of existing property owners.

    As for those impact fees...

    ( )

    67-6513.SUBDIVISION ORDINANCE. Each governing board shall provide, by ordinance adopted, amended, or repealed in accordance with the notice and hearing procedures provided under section 67-6509, Idaho Code, for standards and for the processing of applications for subdivision permits under sections 50-1301 through 50-1329, Idaho Code. Each such ordinance may provide for mitigation of the effects of subdivision development on the ability of political subdivisions of the state, including school districts, to deliver services without compromising quality of service delivery to current residents or imposing substantial additional costs upon current residents to accommodate the proposed subdivision. Fees established for purposes of mitigating the financial impacts of development must comply with the provisions of chapter 82, title 67, Idaho Code. Denial of a subdivision permit or approval of a subdivision permit with conditions unacceptable to the landowner may be subject to the regulatory taking analysis provided for by section 67-8003, Idaho Code, consistent with the requirements established thereby.

    ( )
    67-8207.PROPORTIONATE SHARE DETERMINATION. (1) All development impact fees shall be based on a reasonable and fair formula .

  • NIDRes posted at 8:41 am on Fri, Dec 3, 2010.

    NIDRes Posts: 1

    Tracy644, did you happen to read this part BEFORE getting snide about Greyhound2 "not knowing facts"???: Up to 20 days could be furloughed from the school calendar. Hmm, take 20 days out of the 180 day school year and how many is that? Oh yeah, 160 just like Greyhound2 was saying. Talk about not knowing facts.

  • tracy644 posted at 7:59 am on Fri, Dec 3, 2010.

    tracy644 Posts: 22

    Divided by 160 days? Who watches the kids the other 20 plus days? Perhaps Greyhound2 should send their kids to school all the days instead of just 160 of them. Always interesting to see people make stupid posts who are clueless about what really happens. I agree that there is plenty to be opposed to, but idiots like Greyhound2, who can't even get the story straight, do not help the cause. Please deal only with the facts, or keep your mouth shut.

  • greyhound2 posted at 7:40 am on Fri, Dec 3, 2010.

    greyhound2 Posts: 897

    With over 80% of the budget going to $60,000 yr teachers and $100,000 yr administrators, it's hard to see how they would save any money laying off crossing guards, class aids and custodians. $60.000 yr divided by 160 days at 8 hours a day works out to over $70 per hour plus benefits. And what do you get in exchange. Schools ranked in the bottom ten in the country (which itself ranks 30th in the world), top spot in college dropout rates and a 30% dropout rate for high schools of kids who never graduate. Doesn't look too good.

  • TakeBackTheUSA posted at 4:00 am on Fri, Dec 3, 2010.

    TakeBackTheUSA Posts: 765

    I for one can't support SD271 asking for more money, although I'd gladly transfer every cent I pay for NIC in taxes to them. The district lost my support when they pushed KTEC through, with business interests running the school with our money. But they're asking for trouble if there's anything other than an up or down vote for one specific dollar amount. However they word it, a menu style ballot still offers a series of single choices. And if a total of 50% of the voters don't support a single choice, menu style ballot or not, then the levy should fail. Pull your head out SD271 and show enough professionalism to tell the community how much you need. If you get sneaky you'll regret it. We don't need the district hierarchy wasting money on needless litigation because their incompetent.

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