Sunday, March 13, 2011

If you give it, they will spend it.

It seems whenever the school district wants something and don't have the money to pay for it they just hold a bond election.  Well a bond is a debt.  Is that really something we should be doing when our financial situation is so precarious?  We are still paying for the 2007 bond (debt)!  We don't know how much money we will have for the next couple of years (at least!) and the superintendent and school board want to take on an additional $70 million in debt?!!  I'd venture to say none of them handle their personal finances that way!

The list of what they want to use the money for might seem okay - if we were in a stable financial situation.  Yes, it would be nice to have and do all of those things but you simply cannot do them when you do not have the money.  As stated on that list one of the things payed for with the last bond was the marquee in front of the Education Center.  We went into debt for that?!  To have a fancy sign that tells us the date, time and temperature?!  Any information listed on it can also be found on the website.  That marquee was a complete and total waste of money.  Why wasn't that money used, instead, to repair some of these school buildings if they are really as bad as the superintendent says they are?

The new bond would supposedly be used for roof repairs, A/C repairs, flooring replacements, mower, replacements, mower replacements, etc.  That should all be paid with by maintenance and operations funds!  Hence the word "maintenance"!  If the equipment such as mowers, buses, roofs, band equipment, and the like are working fine now then I say we don't take on new debt to get new things. 

When you have no money you make do with the things you have.
When you have no money you do not remodel your "house" (school buildings).
When you have no money you do not upgrade equipment and technology.
When you have no money you do not purchase new musical instruments.
When you have no money you do not renovate dressing rooms.
When you just voted to spend $43,000 per year for three years on an unnecessary energy company you don't add energy efficient anything.  I would think they would cancel each other out!

When are the citizens of Grand Prairie ever going to say no to the school district's asking for more money, and incurring additional debt EVERY THREE YEARS?!  I say enough is enough and I will most definitely vote no to the new bond proposal.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Now THIS is planning!

Old but interesting

Plan much?

According to the GPISD website the school board has been planning since the 2007-2008 school year for the "potential of a catastrophic occurence in school finance." (  Really?  Then how come since that time money (and in no small quantities) has been spent on the following:

1)  Remodeling the new superintendent's office
2) There was already a $5 million budget deficit for the 2008-2009 school year
3)  Hiring the Staubach Company to oversee 2007 bond when we have always handled it in-house
4)  Purchasing new curriculum, C-Scope, which most teachers have had to alter and/or add to
5)  Hiring unnecessary consultants - you want to find out how the district is being wasteful and what they can change?  Ask a teacher or a low-level employee - they are the ones that know what is really going on!
6)  Contracting with a variety of programs such as Lead Your School, PBS, Capturing Kid's Hearts, etc. that costs A LOT of money.  Regardless if the money is federal or not - it is still on the backs of taxpayer's and should be going towards direct education - not companies telling the schools not to put anything on their classroom walls!
7)  Wall calendars printed up and sent home with every child having homes with multiple copies - which would be fine if we had nothing but money to spend but not when we are supposedly planning for a "catastrophic occurrence in school finance!"
8)  Exemplary signs mimicking eye charts in every classroom in every school in the district.  See additional comment on #8 above.
9)  T-shirts for every district employee stating that GPISD is a recognized district. See additional comment on #8 above.
10)  Hiring additional administrators when the district ran perfectly well with fewer positions in the past (let's see, we have a deputy superintendent - okay this one is gone, finally!; a full time attorney; an entirely new department of Assessments and Research with 4 full time employees; an additional payroll clerk - always had 2 before, now there are three; additional secretaries, facilitators and/or directors in the curriculum and instruction, educational support, and energy management departments; an additional administrator for elementary education - one used to be able to handle it before, I know we haven't grown THAT much; a new department of instructional delivery, which used to be with instructional technology so now there are two administrators for that instead of one; and an assistant superintendent of student affairs position.  Whew!  See additional comment on #8 above.
10)  New marquee at the Education Center which kindly tells me the date and time of day.  See additional comment on #8 above.
11) GPISD postcards sitting in workrooms all across town and no one is using them and no one can tell me what they are used for.  See additional comment on #8 above...get my point yet?
12)  And this is just what this one citizen knows about - I could imagine what is being spent on things I don't know about!

It makes no difference to me if the money used for all these things came from federal grants, state funds, or private business - all of the money could have been used for better things that have a DIRECT impact on student performance and learning.  These are just a few examples of the complete waste that is going on in GPISD and the school board and superintendent want us to believe that our current situation is the State's fault and theirs alone?  I think not.

And if this is an example of the school board having began planning for this budget shortfall for the past three years - I'd hate to see what would happen if they were caught off guard!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Suggestions anyone?

Attended the town hall meeting last night about Texas public school finance.  I'm sad to say there was a poor showing from the citizens of Grand Prairie.  We need to get serious about holding our elected officials and the superintendent accountable for their financial decisions made with money, in part, paid by us!  Anyway, there wasn't anything I haven't already heard throughout the whole mess which is it's all the State's fault, they are shorting us the funds we need, the minimal amount of taxes we are saving as Grand Prairie citizens could mean millions of dollars for the school district, yadda, yadda, yadda...we'll take suggestions.

Well, I have a few...

1)  Stop spending money on anything that is not entirely necessary for the direct education of children (new contract with energy company, and new Ed Center marquee anyone?)  And that is only two of the many, many, many wastes of money coming from that building!

2)  Get rid of all non-essential personnel at the Education Center.  The school district ran just fine for years without all the additional management personnel that this superintendent has hired or created positions for.  I'd be happy to name them all for you but I'd get arthritis from that much typing!

3)  Hire a superintendent that would be paid less than a quarter of a million dollars a year and probably do a better job!

4)  Do I need anymore?  Those three right there would save millions!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


What's Other?

In Today's edition of the Dallas Morning News there is an article in the Metro section titled, "Educators find safe, simple uses for stimulus".  It is about how school districts used their stimulus money for a variety of programs, none particularly innovative.  At the end of the article it has a chart listing how the school districts spent the stimulus money.  It listed 57 districts with categories like teacher effectiveness, college and career readiness, data system, turn around low-performing school, and other. 

Ten districts listed only "other" as where they spent their money.  Of these ten school districts the one that received the most money and spent it on "other" was good old GPISD.  We received $22.1 million in stimulus money and we spent it on "other".  What is exactly is "other"?  The next highest district was Keller ISD and they received $14.7 million and also spent it on "other" - the rest of them were near the $1 million mark or less that chose "other".

Now I ask you, what on earth did GPISD spend $22.1 MILLION on that would not be teacher effectiveness, or college and career readiness?  Possibly to fund all the superintendent's pet projects - Capturing Kid's Hearts, Lead Your School and the like?  Or maybe not, maybe it was well spent - given the history of this administration and this school board I find that hard to believe but miracles do happen!

I just want to know, what's other?