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,” Steve Barbato, director of curriculum services, said regarding the proposed spending in the preliminary budget.
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?