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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1/9/12 - Prepared CCS board meeting comments by Dawn Schaller

1/9/12 CCS Board meeting comments by Dawn Schaller
(I spoke, but was cut short by the “two minute rule”.)

I urge the board to vote no on the bond request.

I am concerned that the district is getting into greater debt via the proposed non-qualified bond when the district is still getting further into debt every year due to the district’s inability to pay for all of the expenses for the current “in effect” bonds.

I am concerned that administration is trying to sell the public on this being a one mill bond, when in fact, as explained tonight, if the interest rates for the two later bond issuances rise beyond the estimates or property values continue to drop, administration will have the right to increase the bond millage to the property owners to an amount over one mill.

I found that the board packet from the last board meeting and this board meeting failed to explain the School Bond Revolving Fund (although board questions brought out some answers).  According to the Plante & Moran audit that was performed this past summer and fall, the School Loan Revolving Fund and School Bond Loan Fund actually extended the maximum 7 mill bonds several years to no later than the spring of 2035.  This was never approved by the public and my understanding is that it was caused by a combination of the current recession lowering the taxable values of property and the district unreasonably over estimating the taxable property values over the terms of the bonds.    

The district plans to spend $35,000 to hold the bond election in May instead of waiting until November when the cost would be zero dollars.  When the election is held in May you are unlikely to get the general public out to vote and I’m sure that is exactly what administration wants to happen.  I’m sure Administration will press the PTAs/PTOs to get the vote out by parents.  

The district needs to think about what they wish to put into the new bond request.  In my opinion, many of these things are unnecessary and some should be coming out of the district’s general operating fund.  Bonds are not supposed to be for maintenance items.  They are supposed to be for improvements.

Does the district really need the following?
1.      Almost $8.5 million for brand new infrastructure for the new classroom technology and $2 million for replacement of current personal computers in the district.  
2.      $2 million for the addition to the “team room” and concession stand at the high school football stadium that was recently approved by the board as being paid for by fund raising, not as a district expense, (from a board meeting in July 2011)
3.      $1 million for a new pool entrance at the high school.  There is no logical reason to spend a million dollars so there is a separate entrance for the pool.  
4.      $700,000 for the Astroturf for the soccer/lacrosse field at the high school,
5.      $700,000 for the Astroturf for the junior high,
6.      Were the fields that the district wants to turn into Astroturf fields recently set up with sprinkler systems?  If so, that came out of recent district bond funds.

I have learned over the years that the more you have, the more you have to pay to maintain all of those additional things you have.  The cost of maintaining all of the technology and capital improvements (short of the energy saving improvements) are not being addressed by administration… 

Just how long does the district think it will take for elementary age students to damage, destroy, or lose their new iPads?  How will that affect future district costs?  We all know how long our cells phones or laptops tend to last, so how long does the district think the student’s iPads will last that will be mobile every day?

In my opinion, the district is trying to spend money they don’t have for items the district doesn’t need, and the public can’t afford. 

10 comments:

  1. I agree, and I will be voting no! iPads are a waste and AstroTurf is a luxury. These financially tough times do not warrant this frivolity.

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  2. Thank you for helping to get the word out. I am definitely voting no.

    Did you know that most of the technology money is to purchase "mobile devices". At a 2/6/12 meeting they did not know exactly which devices for which grades would be purchased. Mr. Rock and Mr. Ryan were very vague and did not seem to want to get into detail. I think we all know that is because they don't have a detail plan.

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  3. 2/9/12 Anonymous,

    Thanks for commenting.

    It is very likely that they do not have a detailed plan. Any thought out plan would also address not just the cost of the wireless device, but also the cost of supporting the devices - IT staff that is actually trained in the technology of the wireless devices, maintenance (if it is even available), software ("apps"), e-books (a significant expense, especially since the district has no budget for all new books for every student and every class).

    A document I found shows that hand held wireless devices in K-12 environments are not likely to survive a year or two... There is no leeway in the bond for supplying new devices after the initial devices are rolled out, much less every year or two... How long do they think they will survive?

    Another reason that I think they are not supplying details is because they don't want to be pinned down. That allows them to do what they want with the money without anyone being able to call them on reneging on spending the money a certain way.

    Unfortunately, there are also no checks or balances on this type of bond and they don't want to give anyone the right to tell them they are spending the money inappropriately.

    This appears to be an ill-conceived bond request being pushed through so Dr. Rock will be able to claim that he is a leading edge superintendent and the first superintendent in Oakland County supplying hand held wireless devices to all students in the district. He still has not moved to Clarkston. I doubt he ever will because I believe that he intends to use the bond approval to push his agenda and move on to greener pastures before the iPads disintegrate in the next two or three years or so and require replacement.

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    Replies
    1. After watching part of the Board meeting where the Exec. Dir. of Tech. presented to the board an update on what he is learing, I have to ask don't we pay this guy enough and isn't it in his job description to already be abreast of tech devices and their role in education or is this a new item in his job description? Has he not already set up these devices for administrators? Isn't the district already installing Wifi? Aren't the administrators already using the technology that we cannot afford to put in the kids hands? I am sure there are some financial records showing CCS owns Ipads, laptops etc and has installed some Wifi infastructure. I am sure having the board office set up with Wifi is helping the young fives program, since they are there for "the kids".

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  4. 3/3/12 Anonymous,

    The Executive Director of Technology is the second highest paid employee of the district. I believe that my nephews who are graduating from high school this year know more about technology than he does.

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  5. The 2011/12 school year base salary for Matt McCarty, the Executive Director of Technology, is $118,699.00 per the salary documents I FOIAed from the district in September. McCarty's total compensation with all benefits included were over $171,000 a year.

    McCarty's base salary is second only to Dr. Rock, the superintendent, whose base salary is $140,000. Dr. Rock gets $7,200/year in car/mileage allowance, over $35,000/year in retirement/TSA allowances, and over $17,000 in health, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance.

    Compare their salaries and benefits to equivalent jobs in the public sector and you will see they are grossly overpaid - especially with regard to the salary and retirement benefits.

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  6. Information Technology (IT) is the most often outsourced service in business and industry. With a $1.5 million budget, why has Clarkston Schools not looked at this option?

    In the upcoming bond issue it will be consultants and vendors who will provide the expertise not district staff. So why the big salary expense?

    Why did 3 out of the 7 board members vote not to hold the bond election in May? Is it a coincidence that the Board Policy on talking to the public came to the forefront along with the bond issue?

    The laundry list of items that are now included in the bond issue is pretty specific except when it comes to technology because, according to their planning timeline, they have no idea what student information sytem they want or will select. Yet technology for children is the banner being used to sell the bond.

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  7. Brandon Schools outsourced their IT department to a school IT company in Ohio called VARTek of Dayton, OH. VARTec’s mission is to “be the best provider of managed technology solutions for enhanced learning in the K–12 marketplace.”

    If CCS did this, they would not need the IT director any longer and the rest of the IT employees would become employees of the IT company, potentially giving them opportunities to be promoted within VARTek. VARTek keeps up with the technology so the district doesn't need to. I suggested it at the 11/28/11 CCS board meeting. My comments were ignored, but it would probably save the district a lot of money.

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  8. The administrators are only interested in outsorcing custodians, grounds maintenance, bus drivers, cooks, para pros & sub teachers. They wouldnt dream of saving money, being responsible and accountable by outsorcing "white collar" positions at the palace( Board office) in the cubicle next to them! Bet the geek squad would be happy to get that kinda work!

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  9. Thank you for your efforts and actions! There are alot of parents and staff who appreciate what your doing in bringing this and other issues into the lite. Some hope to see your name on the ballot in Nov!

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