The Other Shoe Dropping: Curriculum Funding Cut at LMSD...Again

Welcome Lower Merion residents!

We're glad you stopped by. Go ahead and register for a free account to get the benefits of being a member, including:
  • Access to all of our posts and comments
  • Your own profile including an avatar, buddy lists, and other social networking features
  • The ability to send private messages to other users on this site
  • The ability to chat and interact with other citizens and voters in and around Lower Merion.
Creating an account is easy. Register now!

(Don't live in Lower Merion? That's okay. We won't hold it aginst you.)
Tags:
xf14ae's picture
Offline
Last seen: 46 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 2008-11-20 :49
Posts:

For those who are highly involved and watchful of the actions of the School District, the ongoing worry - starting way back in the late 1990s when 'modernization' began - would be that the costs of new buildings combined with teacher salaries and the looming pension funding crisis would result ultimately in poorer and less well funded actual education, especially in the era of Act 1 constraints.

Their fears may be coming true.

LMSD is now saddled with 30 years of staggering debt for the high schools, rising labor and health care costs, a quickly approaching jump in pension funding and, of course, on a minor note, lots and lots of legal bills.

So, once again, they're cutting curriculum, about the only place they can. Except for maybe those spinning bikes? Or is that 'curriculum'? It is in it's own classroom. Most kids learned how to ride a bike when they were 6 though.

Education services being cut in LMSD.

From Rich Ilgenfritz's article:

Although the entire Lower Merion School District budget is increasing next year by more than $8 million, some areas are seeing cuts, including the Curriculum Services Budget.

This part of the budget includes a broad range of items that help deliver classroom instruction to students.

“In terms of comparison from 2009-10, we are reduced by $250[000],” Steve Barbato, director of curriculum services, said regarding the proposed spending in the preliminary budget.

There's more...

But this is not the first year this part of the district’s budget is being cut.

Two years ago the Curriculum Services Budget came in at more than $2.27 million. Under the budget currently being discussed for the 2010-11 school year, the district expects to spend $1.69 million. This will be a reduction in $578,000 over the last two years.

On top of the $250,000 set to be cut from this year’s budget, another $328,000 was cut under the 2009-10 school-year budget.

This year’s slashed items are listed in a summary given out at Tuesday’s meeting. The items were broken down into broad categories such as $53,831 for curriculum services, $5,120 for instructional technology, $3,200 for gifted programs and $3,402 for libraries. Other funds that have more of a direct impact on educational services were also listed. They include $28,485 for social studies, $37,808 for science and $39,680 for literacy. The section taking the biggest hit is math, which is seeing a reduction of $52,097.

Each category is also broken down into several subcategories. The cuts in math include $790 for the adoption of new textbooks and $22,000 for curriculum-development software, supplies and other items.

All totaled, the specific cuts include 60 items from as small as $23 for staff development to $28,485 for the adoption of new textbooks in secondary schools for social studies. Other items being eliminated are programs done with the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and new supplies for the art rooms at Lower Merion High School.

Math? Science? Aren't these those very subjects that have been deemed critical to success in 21st century industry and innovation?

Keep in mind the curriculum itself is sorely outdated in many areas, so new, updated textbooks are really not frivolous. Add to that rumors that a new math program in elementary schools has been tried and rejected in other states due to poor performance.

But where are they spending way beyond their budget again? Oh yeah. Lawyers.

How high will they go? Legal fees spiral in LMSD

According to a review by Main Line Media News, between last June and November the Lower Merion School District rang up bills of nearly $550,000 in the first six months that Morgan Lewis has been representing the school district in the Ardmore redistricting case. Other figures provided by the district this week suggest the total has likely already surpassed $600,000 as of the end of January. That doesn’t include bills for February. So if the district hasn’t gotten them yet, February’s bills are probably already in the mail.

Plus goodness-knows-what on the Robbins case (at a bargain $250 an hour though!) and the ongoing costs for the Blunt case and so on. Of course I hear they're settling Due Process cases at a record pace, which does save them a few pennies here and there.

So, lessee...$600,000 and rising on the busing case + a bunch more because we completely forgot about privacy laws (but now we're on CNN!) + even more because we track too many black kids to special ed...ah, just take it from the Math program. Nobody likes Math anyway.

Makes you wonder just what this Administration and Board's priorities really are?

5
Average: 5 (10 votes)
Your rating: None

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Hugh Gordon's picture
Offline
Last seen: 23 weeks 1 day ago
Joined: 2009-10-24 :58
Posts:

That's a big hit to literacy programs, too. Will we be graduating even more illiterates from high school?

And the Board of School Directors just sits there hearing this, waving its arms in the air helplessly like an overturned turtle.

5
Average: 5 (4 votes)
Your rating: None
bobguzzardi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 48 weeks 10 hours ago
Joined: 2006-01-13 :07
Posts:

This is stunningly depressing. We just spent quarter billion for bricks and mortar which will not teach any student any more and then cut Curriculum which is the core of purpose of school system.

What is this teaching our students? This is something which affects the entire community and the School Board seems oblivious.

5
Average: 5 (3 votes)
Your rating: None
politeia's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 6 hours ago
Joined: 2008-07-30 :00
Posts:

Ah, but this is not the fault of LMSD.

It's the greedy parents of children who are suing.

Especially the Students Doe case where the litigants are not seeking financial damages, but rather school choice.

LMSD has already been caught in numerous lies denying what it did, the tab will be over $1 million to taxpayers by the time the trial is complete and LMSD has promised to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, costing who knows how much more to taxpayers for the Students Doe case.

The fact that McGinley was busted in an email knowing what LMSD was doing was illegal, but that it was OK as long as they did not get sued, is disgraceful. The fact the school board continues to support McGinley is even more disgraceful. Why do they support McGinley? Because they got busted in those emails too.

This is absolute gross mismanagement. LMSD should have settled with the nine families the moment the lawsuit was filed and given them school choice. LMSD would thus not have been caught in all these lies and cost taxpayers $1 million plus in a losing cause.

Ah, but it's the fault of Students Doe who are just asking that their constitutional rights be followed by a school board that has sworn an oath to "support, obey and defend" said Constitution.

Because of this, you do have wonder about LMSD credibility in the Robbins family lawsuit, but I have posted I will give LMSD the benefit of the doubt until I get to read their investigative report on that issue. Still, the Robbins family has the same core issue - a violation of their constitutional rights by LMSD.

I also wonder how many hundreds of thousands of dollars the Croyle litigation LMSD recently lost cost taxpayers?

Somehow I think we will see this cost cutting in regards to the education of children deflected onto something else other that LMSD taking responsibility.

While I don't like the class action by the Robbins family (they have every right ot sue individually if LMSD spied in their home), fact is LMSD dropped the ball by making wrongheaded decisions to allow the Robbins family lawsuit to have a cause of action. LMSD dropped the ball by making wrongheaded decisions to allow Students Doe to have a valid cause of action. The job of their solicitor Ken Roos is to make sure LMSD actions do not put LMSD in a position to be sued. What's with that?

And I'm sure LMSD will deny the enormous cost of the Taj Mahal high schools have anything to do with cutting core education programs.

Somehow I think this is only the start of what will be more cutting of key educational programs due to gross mismanagement and massive spending (you ask me, the two high schools would still have been great while spending $50 million less) on frivilous things that do not directly benefit the ability to teach and the ability to learn.

Laptops anyone? Yeah, I know they came from a grant of some sorts, but there is no evidence they enhance learning and look at the mess they have caused LMSD - not only through its own alleged wrongdoing, but because these laptops are not just teaching devices. Outside of not being able to access certain sites like porn or hate sites, students have free reign to use all the social media, music, online TV, you name it.

I have heard parents complain the lives of their kids revolve around these laptops where the kids can always say they are doing school work, but rather goofing off chatting with friends. Many parents would prefer more control over this situation.

Yes, I believe laptops are a smart move as computer literacy is essential, but why did LMSD make the boneheaded decision to give fully loaded laptops with all sorts of distracting abilities instead of giving out laptops that go to the bare bones of teaching, learning and school curriculum?

And even with the ever increasing school taxes, just wait for the hit we will have to take on teacher pensions to further subsidize those with our tax dollars when I think teachers should join the rest of the country and have a 401k thay must contribute to with their own earnings and that is matched, except in truly harsh economic times like now where many private sector workers are not seeing their 401k's matched.

Sorry, but I just find it hard to blindly support LMSD given all this.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

5
Average: 5 (6 votes)
Your rating: None

 

 

mo7777777's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 14 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-03-16 :49
Posts:

Here is some irony for you. On Thursday at the finance meeting they discussed the bids on the new irrigation system at Harriton. This system was cut out the plans because it was too costly, but now that there is "extra" money, they are adding it back in. The cost of this system is.....drum roll please.....$250k.

Why are we willing to invest in grass, but not in kids?

(and don't forget the Arnold Field legal wranglings in the list of legal battles - we paid for that too.)

5
Average: 5 (4 votes)
Your rating: None
xf14ae's picture
Offline
Last seen: 46 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 2008-11-20 :49
Posts:

You're kidding, right?

My thoughts alone. "I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

5
Average: 5 (3 votes)
Your rating: None

"I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." - Brian Andreas

mo7777777's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 14 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-03-16 :49
Posts:

sadly, no. I am afraid I have no sense of humor about the schools anymore.

I haven't scanned the handouts, so I am behind, but you can always read about these meetings at OpenLMN.net

5
Average: 5 (3 votes)
Your rating: None
carla's picture
Offline
Last seen: 16 weeks 5 days ago
Joined: 2008-01-03 :36
Posts:

http://www.openlmn.net/

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

5
Average: 5 (2 votes)
Your rating: None

"Well behaved women rarely make history" - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

LexoTime5's picture
Offline
Last seen: 51 weeks 5 hours ago
Joined: 2009-04-01 :31
Posts:

now that there is "extra" money, they are adding it back in. The cost of this system is.....drum roll please.....$250k.

WHAT??

This is obviously some strange usage of the word "extra" which I was not previously aware of.

5
Average: 5 (3 votes)
Your rating: None
politeia's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 6 hours ago
Joined: 2008-07-30 :00
Posts:

They just reduced the Curriculum Services Budget by $250K, so that gives them an "extra" $250k to grow grass.

So while they get credit for not further raising taxes to get this $250k, they robbed Peter to pay Paul and chose grounds keeping over educational services.

But you already knew that from what was posted. LMSD just did not want citizens of Lower Merion to know that.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

5
Average: 5 (2 votes)
Your rating: None

 

 

mo7777777's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 14 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-03-16 :49
Posts:

To be fair, the $250k comes from two different budgets. One is the capital project budget, the other is the general operating fund. I'm not sure they money can flow in both directions.

5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Your rating: None
politeia's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 6 hours ago
Joined: 2008-07-30 :00
Posts:

Oh, I'm sure it will work out in the overall budget, which is what most citizens glance at if they look at all.

This $250k was budgeted for in the overall budget and $250k was spent.

My point above in regards to taxes is that it means they are not coming in over their overall budget in regards to further upping the tax increase the school district already budgeted for and plans, so while it involves two different line items, the bottom line is not affected, though the Curriculum Services Budget gets cut substantially while they get to grow grass that we will have to pay to cut (pun intended).

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

5
Average: 5 (3 votes)
Your rating: None

 

 

bobguzzardi's picture
Offline
Last seen: 48 weeks 10 hours ago
Joined: 2006-01-13 :07
Posts:

To be fair, it is all money taken from The Forgotten Taxpayer, the tax producer, who has now spent 1/4 BILLION dollars and not one student will learn any more and Lower Merion has a declining enrollment in next few years.

Teachers are paid more, more administrators are paid more, do students learn any more.

And the Integrated and Unequal treatment of African Americans is truly a disgrace which no one talks about. The learning gap is real.

5
Average: 5 (4 votes)
Your rating: None
Jack's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 42 weeks ago
Joined: 2009-03-03 :41
Posts:

Did I also hear right that due, to budget constraints, Radnor will be reducing classes and letting go 40 teachers next year?? That seems like an awful high number. But hey, at least they got their football field covered in new turf! (that isn't even paid for as yet)

5
Average: 5 (3 votes)
Your rating: None

Jack

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.