DCPS 14 million in the hole to pay for the cabinet

Now it was pointed out t me that we have 5 percent of our budget plus ten million in reserves and friends that is a healthy amount. I could argue we should be spending some of that money on our some unmet needs, so don’t worry the repo man isn’t going to come in the middle of the night and take the school board building away.

That being said, being so far in the hole on a single line item is humdinger and it is unsustainable unless there is a budget increase from Tallahassee to keep dipping into reserves to pay salaries. I also want to remind you we cut the budget by 1 percent this year and it looks like we didn’t budget for the cabinet at all when making our original budget and how is that possible?.

Becki Couch warned us of some dangerous and unusual budget practices last fall. I just hope they don’t come back to bite us.

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Billionaire Devos makes joke about how no lunch is free

I don’t know if this is from the Oy Vey I can’t make this stuff up file, the Christian hypocrisy file or the oh god just watch the viideo, if you can stomach that is.

From Yahoo News

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made a seemingly innocuous joke Thursday about no one getting a free lunch. But the comment came as DeVos, a staunch opponent of public schools, is taking over the nation’s free lunch program that provides nutrition to low-income students and is under attack from Republicans, raising questions about whether the administration of President Donald Trump will protect food aid programs for children, NPR reported.


District tells me I got some things wrong, on evaluations and bonuses

In an effort to be fair to them I have decided to put up their assertions, many of which I disagree with, however I do acknowledge that earnest individuals can look at the same thing and come to different conclusions.


While I understand much of your blog is opinion based and written in “draft” mode, please consider referencing actual facts regarding DCPS and contacting us for verification when in doubt. Based on the information provided below, please consider updating your blog titled DCPS promises a lot, delivers little, the staff at Ed White finds out first hand, and posted on February 23, 2017.
·        CG Statement: “There were no promises to the staff of Ed White, those staying and coming in but the implication was clear, if you rolled the dice with the change to a military magnet you would be rewarded and it wasn’t a low level administrator that made this assertion, it was the district’s director of human resources Sonita Young.”
o   DCPS Response: A meeting was held between an HR representative and the DTU representative with each school impacted by boundary/program changes, including Ed White, to discuss the impact of changes on personnel.  Ms. Young was the representative who spoke to the Ed White staff and principal.  While we acknowledge that she referenced a possible QEA like incentive, it was in the context of the use of performance data to determine eligibility.  It was also stated that any approved incentive had to be negotiated with DTU.  The incentive was provided upon approval for all teachers who qualified for the final incentive, and has been paid.
·        CG Statement: “Last year it was the QEA bonuses and earlier this year it was the center school stipends.”
o   DCPS Response: The issue with QEA bonuses, as has been explained to you previously, was an email communication error regarding teacher eligibility that was quickly corrected.  However, with both incentive issues and center school stipends, the teachers who were entitled to payment received payment.
·        CG Statement: “As of Christmas we had over three hundred teacher openings and every year more and more staff leave and it gets harder and harder to replace them.”
o   DCPS Response: As of December 20, 2016, there were 121 classroom and 84 school-based instructional support position vacancies; not “over three hundred.” The blog statement is inaccurate.
·        CG Statement: Never mind we all know the answer to that, well everyone but the super it seems as he shrugs his shoulders at most of these issues, full disclosure he did work to see center school teachers got their stipends before Christmas, though at the same time those eligible for the stipend decreased.
o   DCPS Response: There was no decrease. This is, again, an inaccurate statement. The requirements for the center school stipend has remained the same for both years. The difference in quantity of qualifying teachers is based on teacher certification and summative evaluation rating, and not a change in the stipend amount.  The total number of teachers who received a center school supplement increased from the prior year by 8 teachers districtwide.
·        CG Statement: “It’s a shame that the district in order to save a few dollars to buy a new ID system, expand the supers bloated cabinet, or some other tech du jour, has just put a hundred cracks in that foundation.”
o   DCPS response: The Superintendent’s cabinet was not expanded. This is false and inaccurate. It is also false and inaccurate to state that the plan to fund an ID system is based on calculated analysis to reduce salaries through the evaluation system. The evaluation system, and the metrics used to pay teachers, are collective bargained and not randomly controlled by the Superintendent.
·        CG Statement: It takes 9 years to get to ten bucks an hour (for paras).
o   Paraprofessionals are paid on the approved salary schedule based on their assignment (i.e. regular, ESE, etc.).  Paras have received a step increase each year.  Additionally, negotiations between the district and DTU have resulted in changes to the paraprofessional salary schedule/career ladder that allows for paras to receive increases faster than previous schedules.  Depending on the paraprofessional’s assignment and amount of professional development he/she has taken, it takes between 6-9 years to get to $10.00/hr., not 9 years.
Here was my response and now that you have both points of views, you can be the judge.

I get it we probably aren’t going to agree on much but before I put it up (my post on Ed White), I ran it past the group of Ed White teachers that came to me who asked me to write it, who gave me all the info and asked, what did I get wrong, need to add or take out. You have a significant amount of teachers at Ed White who are bitter by what has happened.

I work at Palm Avenue and was right in the mix with what happened, last year transition and elective teachers got the stipend, while this year new transition and elective teachers were told they weren’t eligible.

I feel like the district makes a lot of errors that go against teachers especially where money is involved. Maybe these are innocent and not nefarious mistakes but at the very least it speaks to poor communication between the district and teachers and it breeds contempt from teachers. 

The Times Union disagrees with your job opening numbers

Also if I remember correctly, your 12/16 openings list which was up well into January had over 300 instructional openings and correct me if I am wrong but the district moved a significant amount of coaches back into the classroom to cover a lot of those openings. . 

When I said the cabinet, i meant the administration and its expansion and risky funding of is an assertion that Becki Couch has made, and if we have limited resources and the district wants to buy a new ID system rather than give raises how is what I wrote wrong and are you defending how much, sorry, little we pay paras? Can I write about that?

Finally I think it’s a fair argument that we have an evaluation system which everyone I know hates which gives well below the state average of highly effective to save money.    

DCPS promises a lot, delivers little, the staff at Ed White finds out first hand.

There were no promises to the staff of Ed White, those staying and coming in but the implication was clear, if you rolled the dice with the change to a military magnet you would be rewarded and it wasn’t a low level administrator that made this assertion, it was the district’s director of human resources Sonita Young. Fast forward to today and that dream has come to an end, though as teachers at Ed White look back many feel as if they were the victims of a bait and switch and it has left a bitter taste in their mouths.

This isn’t the first time the district has dangled financial incentives to teachers only to pull them back. Last year it was the QEA bonuses and earlier this year it was the center school stipends. Throw in the district’s evaluation system which makes it harder for teachers to get highly effective evaluations and a clear pattern of nickeling and diming teachers at every possible instance becomes clear.

Just the other day the superintendent talked about borrowing 52 million to buy computers, well friends ask yourself who is gong to be there to pass them out and help kids work on them? As of Christmas we had over three hundred teacher openings and every year more and more staff leave and it gets harder and harder to replace them.

Let me ask you this, if the district gets a reputation for not following through with its promises, is the situation going to get worse or better. Never mind we all know the answer to that, well everyone but the super it seems as he shrugs his shoulders at most of these issues, full disclosure he did work to see center school teachers got their stipends before Christmas, though at the same time those eligible for the stipend decreased.

Most of the staff I have talked to at Ed White are happy with the direction the school is heading. They say there is a solid foundation in place that can lead to future success. It’s a shame that the district in order to save a few dollars to buy a new ID system, expand the supers bloated cabinet, or some other tech du jour, has just put a hundred cracks in that foundation.

While I am talking about money here I just wanted to mention how poorly we pay our para professionals. It’s really criminal as we pay them less than subsistence type wages. Many fast food restaurants pay better than the district does and you might be saying what about the benefits to which I would reply, every year they seem to get a little more expensive and a little worse.

I think teachers are under paid, but what we pay paras, those people on the front line with our children is shameful and the entire city should be embarrassed. It takes 9 years to get to ten bucks an hour.

To see what they make, click the link and then open the salary handbook. http://dcps.duvalschools.org/Page/5722

Duval gives teachers lower evaluations, is the purpose to save money? (rough draft)

I think I can prove it is.

During the 15-16 school year 45.9 percent of Florida’s teachers were considered highly effective, a number that Duval actually brought down, because only  23.4% of our teachers were, which put us in 50th place, though most of those behind us were small districts with a few hundred or few thousand teachers.

When we compared ourselves to the big districts something the super frequently does, we came in third to last only behind Brevard and Pinellas.

Brevard- 18.3%
Dade- 32.6%
Hillsborough- 42.7%
Orange- 75.2%
Palm Beach 50.4%
Pinellas- 10.3
Polk- 36.5

If you are on the new pay scale and you get an effective evaluation you get a thousand dollar raise, however if you get a highly effective evaluation 2k comes your way.

If Duval hit the state average it would cost the district roughly an additional 2 million dollars but that isn’t the only money teachers are losing out on. Teachers also lose out on being eligible for the Best and Brightest bonuses, now I think the program is dumb but as things stand now only highly effective teachers are eligible.

We use the ironically named C.A.S.T. evaluation system a tool so unwieldy that the union gives seminars on how to understand what is happening, and that practically takes advance math and a graphing calculator to figure out.Why? Apparently to save money.

But hey somebody has to pay for the supers new ID system, exploding cabinet and new computers right. So many teachers already spend their own money on basics whats a little more.

Here are how the other districts in Northeast Florida are doing.

Clay 84.3% highly effective, St. Johns 60,2%

To check out how other districts do, click the link, http://www.fldoe.org/teaching/performance-evaluation/

The district should ask our teachers about new ID policies

Teachers are the ones that will have to implement any new ID policy and I think that entitles them to be consulted. So I sent the following note to the school board encouraging them to reach out to the district’s teachers. I believe if they did so more often we would be in a better place.

I did a piece on the new ID system on the blog Education Matters and I received a ton of responses (see below) that I thought you might be interested in. I just wanted to suggest why not do a survey monkey and ask teachers, the people who would be implementing it, what they thought.

Have a good day
Chris Guerrieri
  1. Will someone let the Super know that the current ids are already used for checking out textbooks, library books and equipment both at schools AND public libraries, as well as purchasing lunches. Why do we need to pay to put scanners on EVERY classroom in the county when we already enter attendance into a system that is accessible by everyone in the school? How will new ids track attendance better than the program he spent millions on 3 years ago????? Just another waste. How about someone let him know what really needs funding, like new buildings instead of buying nasty portables (yes, many of the ones in use came from FEMA after hurricane Katrina so think on that….), or paying for more Paras so there are more hands in deck in all schools?? There is no amount of technology that can ever replace the value of human contact. The simple act of talking to a child, being the person that offers words of encouragement, or having a child know someone cares is more valuable than any scanner. On the plus side, you don’t have to pay benefits for a scanner, or deal with union complaints when they quit working. You just replace them like he wishes he could replace us with mindless cogs.


  2. If you want to know where your child is at all times then ask him and raise a child who believes in telling the truth. You have to raise your children to be respectful and want a good education then you won’t have to worry about them cutting classes. This also makes me wonder who has a friend who owns the badge making company or who has stock in the badge making company


  3. Good points. Do we have a problem in every school. How sad! Maybe the engagement and interest in school has to do with curriculum and lack of support services. Maybe the millions could be spent on fixing the problem instead of monitoring the problem. I am reminded of those commercials where the dentist says oh I don’t fix the cavity I only monitor the cavity. P


  4. Truant students do not wear ID badges, so who is this for? Also, many of the parents at Ed White do not make their child wear the Ed White uniform or the ID badge. I guess it is obvious who will benefit on this as well. If anything, some kind of way, it will be another thing that teachers will have to track in addition to taking attendance. I agree, this is a waste!!!


From Facebook, names redacted
 Sounds like a good idea to me for the students. But definitely not to monitor staff and faculty whereabouts. They need to implement some type of penalty for students who don’t wear them. I am sure some schools have a harder time than others.

I think I like the idea of visitors wearing them and also some parents (especially those who “wander ” where they shouldn’t). I think it is great security for students. BUT- I think making teachers wear chipped IDs instead of the ones worn now smacks of micromanaging and mistrust, instead of treating them as professionals.
Like · Reply · 3 · February 14 at 8:52pm · Edited

I refuse to wear one. My current ID is fine.
Like · Reply · 2 · February 14 at 8:38pm · Edited

 I can honestly say this one doesn’t bother me so much. Any hospital you enter has their employees wearing this type of badge. I see it as a safety measure should the unthinkable occur. I’m on a very open campus where that continues to be a real possibiSee More

 I don’t mind this either. In my opinion, the reason other id’s have not worked is because there wasn’t too great of an incentive for kids to wear them. When there was a game or dance, everyone “found” one or purchased a new one. As Shannon pointed out, for security reasons it may be a good idea. As far as me wearing one? Sure. I have nothing to hide.
Like · Reply · 3 · February 14 at 8:52pm · Edited

· 2 mutual friends

Nah. Thats a hard pass…

 I can’t believe I’m saying this but I could give a hoot if admin knew in was in restroom. I am on their time. As for kids it’s a battle but geez wearing an ID is a really basic skill.

 Can’t wait to see how many K-1st graders loose their cards. Are teachers going to have card out every time they leave their classrooms? Big brother will be watching

I agree with you, Chris. My first thoughts were of one Year at Paxon SAS first day, ” all Students will wear their ID at all times”, by week two it was forgotten about. So many students refused to wear them and there was nothing done by the “AdminisSee More

Ain’t technology great? Super duper idea, then the game-playing over attendance and tardy and skipping statistics will end. Is the super ready for some real numbers?

What is to keep a student from scanning their ID and their friends ID so their friend could skip? “This system could save the district about $1 million over five years, Vitti said, but first the district must spend $1.1 million to set it up.” How often does he changes programs? Who is to say we would keep this program for the 5 years. He wastes so much money. When is this on the school board’s agenda?

Donald Trump on Autism, it’s not pretty

From the Mary Sue, by Vivian Kane

It shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore when Donald Trump makes statements amounting to little to nothing more than parroting back verbal clickbait sensationalism. This is a man who spent his campaign answering actual policy question with myriad versions of “Don’t worry about it, I’m, like, really smart, I’ll figure this stuff out,” and who literally just tweets Fox News headlines. And yet here I am, continuously finding myself surprised. I suppose that’s on me.
Today, Trump’s dangerously, willfully misinformed information comes in the form of a discussion about autism rates. During a “Parent-Teacher Conference Listening Session” with education icon obstacle Betsy DeVos and a roundtable of educators, Trump stopped the introductions to focus on the principal of a special needs school serving students with autism and physical and medically fragile–oh wait we can’t hear the rest because Trump hears a talking point calling his name and can’t even let her finish.
The interaction starts at the 6:10 mark:
Trump interrupts the principal to ask the super incisive question, “How’s that going?” After a pause (how do you even answer that vague of a question?), she responds, “Well.” Trump pushes to ask if she’s seen “a big increase in the autism with the children.” She says she has, to the point that the school has shifted its population with more of a focus on students with autism.
Trump responds, again, with the vaguest of follow-ups, “So what’s going on with autism?” He continued with his usual rancid word salad.
“When you look at the tremendous increase, it’s really–it’s such an incredible–it’s really a horrible thing to watch, the tremendous amount of increase. Do you have any idea? And you’re seeing it in the school?”
The principal responds then with the statistic that 1-in-66 or 1-in-68 children are diagnosed with autism, and Trump speculates that “Well, now, it’s gotta be even lower than that, which is just amazing – well, maybe we can do something.” (A lower statistic in this case would mean a higher number of autistic students.)
The problem here is that this principal was talking about the number of children diagnosed with autism (which, by the way, has remained fairly steady over recent years), while Trump and others who can’t be bothered with science and facts and nuance and all those annoying little details of the world, equate that with children who have autism.
And these, it shouldn’t need to be said, are not the same thing.
The spectrum of autism is still something doctors and researchers are working to understand. The number of cases that have gone diagnosed in previous generations (and still today) is unknowable. But when a principal is saying her school has such a high number of autistic students that their whole population has shifted, one response to that information is to be grateful that people like her are (presumably) working to understand those students and give them a great education.
The other response, the one people like Trump give, is to assume there’s a plague running rampant our society and deem it “horrible to watch.” And that is incredibly insulting to people with autism and those who advocate for their rights and respect.
This, again, shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pre-presidency, Trump tweeted a lot about the nonexistent link between vaccines and autism.
And now, terrifyingly, Trump is looking like he might be in a position to make good on some totally baseless promises he made back in 2014.
Trump is now, just as he was then, latching onto fear-baiting non-science. As autism expert and author Steve Silberman told the website Science of Us,
There’s no consensus as to whether or not there’s been any significant increase in the actual prevalence of autism, period. The real debate is whether or not there has been a small increase, and there are a number of factors that could play a role in that small increase… But the consensus is that there has been no huge, startling, ‘horrible,’ as Trump said, increase in autism. And the CDC estimate has been flat for a couple of years, just as they expected it to be, because the major source of the increase that started in the 1990s was broadened diagnostic criteria and much more public awareness of what autism looks like.
For Trump to be spewing rumors rather than facts and science, he’s in a position to cause real damage to both the perception of people with autism, and the potential progress we’re able to make in diagnosis and care over the next however may years we have left with him in office.
As Silberman put it, just as Trump does in so many areas, he “is listening to the wrong people and trusting the wrong people.” And that can only work against people like this principal, and anyone else trying to make actual progress.

(via Science of Us, image via YouTube)

My thoughts on the proposed new student ID system

I feel like I am going to come off as a hater, after reading please let me know what you think.

From the Times Union:

 Vitti said that with more accurate records of ridership, the district can make bus routes more efficient and save money.

When students get to school, they’ll scan their ID cards to register attendance or tardiness. And when middle and high school students go to each class, they’ll scan the cards to gain entrance for attendance.
It’ll become more obvious more quickly which students are ditching classes, Vitti said.
Students will also use the ID cards to pay for lunch, check out text books or computers, register attendance at school activities and assemblies and even note when they leave mid-class for some reason.
Besides students, teachers and volunteers who regularly come in contact with students also will carry ID cards. The cards will record when they come and go from the building and where they go while there.
This system could save the district about $1 million over five years, Vitti said, but first the district must spend $1.1 million to set it up. Each subsequent year it will cost $123,500, for a total of nearly $1.6 million over five years.
The old ID systems cost Duval schools $2.6 million over five years.
Sounds awesome right!!!! It’s cheaper, will save money and help parents better monitor their kids!
Here is the thing, several years ago when I worked at Ed White High school we instituted new IDs that kids were supposed to wear to class. Suddenly i went from teacher to the ID police as kids would wear them sporadically. I would send kids out to get new ones which they were charged five bucks for. It became a period by period battle, that I and most of the teachers I knew hated. Withing a few months many of us had given up. It just wasn’t worth it.
Also are their going to be penalties for students who frequently lose, forget or just refuse to wear the Ids? 
Now I am six years out of a comprehensive high school and kids at my school don’t wear them, except to lunch for fear of them losing them. Things may have changed but why do I suspect not much.
Also I am an adult, I get it though that since I am a teacher the super and his admin don’t trust me to do my job, but I don’t want to wear a GPS so Big Brother can monitor my every move. 
I am just going to throw this out there too. 123 K a year to make probably two hundred thousand badges, upkeep on the equipment, and staff to monitor the data, sees like a deal to good to be true. Unfortunately deals like that often are.
To me this sounds like a great idea that somebody who isn’t the classroom might like.

Florida abuses teachers and can’t figure out why there’s a teacher shortage

I have written this same piece dozens of times over the years. This time however it is from Florence Snyder writing in Florid Politics.

  At the rate Florida is hemorrhaging classroom teachers, it soon won’t matter that we can’t hire school bus drivers for $11.88 an hour, because there won’t be any classrooms worth taking the kids to.

Every week brings fresh reporting about Florida’s teacher shortage; none of it is a surprise to parents or policymakers who have been paying even the slightest bit of attention.
The teaching talent pool began to shrink in the mid-20th century as women’s professional options expanded into better-paying places. Still, girls and an increasing number of boys raised to revere teachers continued to pursue careers in the classroom.
Teaching reading to fidgety first-graders and science to 17-year-olds suffering from senioritis is hard duty under the best of circumstances. In recent years, it’s become close-to-impossible.
Technology and testing mandates change at warp speed, to the delight of stockholders in companies that sell technology and tests. There’s no money left for toilet paper and Kleenex, so teachers’ pay for those “amenities” personally.
Technology has also made it possible for helicopter parents to harass teachers at any hour of the day or night. Email is great for monster moms and douchey dads who wanted to bully teachers while wearing pajamas and drinking heavily. But it sucks down a lot of time that teachers need to grade papers and attend “trainings” on their uncompensated time.
It’s hard to maintain teacher morale when the wage gap in the public-school system is closing in on the wage gap in the private sector. In Miami, for example, Superintendent and Fashion Plate Alberto Carvalho can afford to dress like Rico Suave on his $345,000 salary. Teachers making $40K are lucky if they can keep up with their student loans.
Then there’s the daily dose of defamation heaped upon teachers by folks looking to dismember the public-school system for the benefit of people whose salaries in privatized “education” make Carvalho’s pay look paltry.
There are limits to people’s willingness to be a piñata for paltry pay and no respect. Teachers could be forgiven if they decide to homeschool their own kids and leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves.