Cut Teachers? Buses? ROTC?

Christopher Peak PhotosThe Board of Education’s first conversation about where to cut $10 million showed just how painful it will be to balance next year’s budget without a city bailout, leading one board member to say he felt “disgusted” at some proposed cuts.

Meanwhile, a school official sought to prevent reporters from allowing students to weigh in on potential school closings.

As the board contemplates a 5.1 percent reduction in expenditures to make up for declining state support and expiring federal grants, Will Clark, the district’s chief operating officer, suggested 16 across-the-board cutbacks, such as eliminating dozens of teachers, closing a school and reducing bus routes. If the board approved the entire package, created with feedback from department directors and school principals, Clark said the district could save $13.1 million that way.

Based on the reaction from members at the Board of Education Finance & Operations Committee meeting held Tuesday evening in a noisy cafeteria at Hill Regional Career High School, certain line items will likely be spared.

The Board of Education committed to submitting revised figures to the mayor before March 1, meaning the members could vote at their regular meeting at Celentano School on Monday or schedule a special meeting later in the week. In whatever plan they submit, they can still ask for a full $10 million from the city, knowing they might not get it.

In his preliminary draft, Clark gave a target dollar figure that the district could save from each line item. He didn’t include many details about how to get there, leaving the exact plan up to employees if the board gives the go-ahead. Pressed by board members Tamiko Jackson-McArthur and Jamell Cotto for more information about which staff would be affected by cuts, Clark demurred.

“Specifically, I don’t want to name them here,” he said. “I don’t want to talk behind anyone’s back, but this will be reviewed as we get information from each school.” He said he’d provide information about classroom sizes before the next board meeting.

Here’s the rough plan, as presented to the committee:

  • Eliminate 10 administrators: $1,250,000
  • Eliminate 55 teachers: $3,300,000
  • Eliminate 5 clerical staff: $175,000
  • Eliminate 25 paraprofessionals: $550,000
  • Reduce part-time staff: $500,000
  • Consolidate student support staff: $500,000
  • Switch to LED lights and Internet-enabled phones: $400,000
  • Cut back on energy costs: $250,000
  • Close a school: $2,500,000
  • Combine alternative education: $850,000
  • Eliminate non-core bus routes: $750,000
  • Charge more for permits, restrict other building use: $200,000
  • Maximize magnet school enrollment to cap: $1,096,380
  • Eliminate athletic programs at Creed: $300,000
  • Eliminate Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), Project Pride’s physical education, Talented and Gifted (TAG): $350,000
  • Hire a second shift of security guards to cut overtime: $100,000

For personnel, Clark said the school district would try to “right-size” the staff through attrition, rather than layoffs. Usually, that will mean not hiring for a vacancy, unless it’s in a shortage area, like math and science, special education or English as a second language, Clark said.

According to the personnel reports submitted to the school board over the past three months, the superintendent has already been notified that four administrators, 26 teachers, eight paraprofessionals, 12 non-instructional staff and one coach won’t be returning next year.

Do Press, Students Have Rights?

Clark also declined to name a school that could be closed, saying he’d leave that up to a working group that has been assembled. “There’s a lot of trepidation and concern out there,” he said. He added that a reporter showed up at a school last week to talk to students about a closure. “We should not allow that to happen,” Clark said.

But Darnell Goldson, the board president, said they needed to stop “dancing around the issue” and get specific. “The press are going to talk to the kids. Parents are talking, everybody is talking about schools, one of which is not located in the city,” he said, referring to Creed, which has been in temporary quarters in North Haven for five years. “It’s time to address the issue.”

Jackson-McArthur and other board members said they felt uncomfortable keeping other programs on the chopping block. “I’m totally against cutting sports and ROTC,” she said. “I don’t want to cut community services that impact children or teachers that impact kids. Cutting sports, that made my stomach hurt. ROTC and TAG, oh no, we’re not touching that.”

Frank Redente, the committee chair, agreed. He made a motion to remove ROTC and TAG from the list. Cotto seconded it, saying “It should never have been on this list.”

That opened up a discussion about the board’s willingness to make cuts. “Shouldn’t we have more information before we do any of that?” Goldson asked. “Everything [on this list] is nice. Putting kids on a bus so they don’t walk from their house is nice. But we can’t be nice anymore. I need more information before I take anything off the table.” Removing just one item is “unfair to every other employee, the paraprofessionals, teachers and part-time staff,” he added.

The board didn’t take a vote on Redente’s motion, but Cotto said he was “disgusted” that Clark had proposed cutting only $750,000 from the $24.8 million transportation budget, while making a much deeper cut relative to ROTC’s size.

Jackson-McArthur suggested that the district try to find more money by negotiating with First Student, the Cincinnati-based bus company whose contract is up for renewal this year, or finding a new contractor altogether.

“Why not test the market and put out to bid?” Goldson added. “What happened five years ago doesn’t measure what happened now.”

But Clark protested that starting the procurement process all over again might jack up prices. Five years ago, when the contract was signed, First Student’s smaller competitors asked for at least three percent more, he said, and they wanted higher increases for each renewal.

Instead, he suggested figuring out ways to reduce bus lines, rather than find a new operator. “To bus less would cost less,” he said. “There’s no question about it.”

Whatever route they decide on, the school board will have to take decisive action before the month’s end. “Something has to go,” Reggie Mayo, the interim superintendent, said as he left the meeting.

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posted by: opin1 on February 21, 2018  6:30pm

Close 2 schools $5 million.
Eliminate 20 administrators $2,500,000.
Eliminate 25 teachers $1,500,000; don’t fire any, but don’t replace the first 25 that retire or move to other towns.
Use the remaining options to find the other $1 million.

How come the poll includes the option to cut teachers, but doesn’t include the option to cut administrators?

posted by: 1644 on February 21, 2018  10:07pm

I understand that buyers can get better prices by offering long term contracts,  but more than five years without putting a service out to bid is absurd.

posted by: nhteach on February 21, 2018  10:20pm

What about cuts to central office? I don’t understand why that is not on the list. We will lose 55 teachers, but central office will remain fully staffed-even in departments that have no clear role in improving the school system.

posted by: 1644 on February 21, 2018  10:22pm

Do the savings from “close a school” include laying off all staff?  If yes, are these numbers included in the proposed 55 teacher lay-offs, or in addition to them?

posted by: BevHills730 on February 22, 2018  12:23am

These cuts are heartbreaking.  Yale could easily solve this problem with a higher voluntary contribution. Even with a $10 million increase, the city and state would still be giving Yale immense annual subsidies.

posted by: johny123 on February 22, 2018  1:43am

you elders are like the jerk we know at the top named malloy.spend spend spend.look at all the fat you have at the top you are a school system not a baby sitter club

posted by: 1644 on February 22, 2018  6:41am

It has been a standard clause in many school administrator union contract that if an administrator’s position is eliminated, he can return to the classroom and retain his administrator’s salary.  Does the New Haven administrator contract have such a provision?

As with others, more central office cuts are needed.  Starting with 55 teachers seems absurd. How about $20K from a school/city liaison position?

posted by: AliceB on February 22, 2018  6:45am

Why don’t they eliminate the Department Head positions at Central Office.  These individuals have no real function in the subject areas they purport to represent. Social Studies, English, Science and Math; just cut the position out entirely.  That would be at least half a million plus.
All the retired principals that are employed at hourly rates should be eliminated.  These individuals retired with healthy pensions. 
This isn’t millions but it is a start without impacting the students. Maybe we can use some of the savings for supplies?

posted by: MarcoHaven on February 22, 2018  8:28am

So the school district — despite rising enrollment and rising revenue — has mismanaged itself yet again. Can someone explain why Yale University should foot the bill for that?

The district has an annual budget of a half-billion dollars annually. Let’s allow them to handle this themselves.

posted by: robn on February 22, 2018  9:30am

Has anyone ever simply done a ratio of administrators to teachers and then compared it to other similarly sized municipalities in the US?

posted by: LookOut on February 22, 2018  9:38am

I’ll echo what many have said and what the board refuses to consider - cut the bloated staff and admin.  Even though these are positions that the board uses to find jobs for their friends, they should be the first considered for cuts, not the last.

And BevHill730, put yourself in Yale’s shoes - of course they could give an extra $10 Million but why should they and why would they?  Giving $10 Million extra this year guarantees that bad decisions will continue to be mad and that $15 Million will be the ask next year.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on February 22, 2018  10:14am

“Everything [on this list] is nice.  . . .  But we can’t be nice anymore.”

Schools are not businesses.  Schools are all about nice.  If we can’t be nice to and for children, we’re in bigger trouble than a budget deficit.

posted by: newhavenishome on February 22, 2018  12:07pm

So are we going to carry on with building that SCSU school? Yes the broke state of CT may be magically footing the majority of the bill, but we are on the hook for all operational costs. Is the plan to close schools while simultaneously building new ones???

1. Close at least 2 schools.  The class/grade sizes at some of these schools are so small it is laughable. They need to merge.
2. GET RID OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE BLOAT at Meadow Street.  Get rid of the endless CONSULTANTS, ASST. PRINCIPALS, that walk around the schools doing nothing all day, these folks have no value in educating our children.
3. Send everything over 5K out to bid, always.
4. Incentivize long term employees to leave, and DO NOT hire them back.
4. NHPS -learn how to do more with less. Every other municipal department in every other town has had to so this.

posted by: BevHills730 on February 22, 2018  12:11pm

Lookout.  I don’t see an increased contribution from Yale as the University giving anything to New Haven or Connecticut.  Rather it would just mean Yale is taking a slightly smaller subsidy from the city and state. 

Why is Yale continuing to insist on such a large subsidy from a city that is forced to make heartbreaking cuts to its public education system?

posted by: JCFremont on February 22, 2018  12:47pm

I agree with many responses that cutting the administrative bloat needs to be part of the polling. A return to neighborhood schools would cut the amount of buses, school closing’s due to threat of inclement weather and to have real statistics on who and how children are learning. As far as the continued belief that Yale University, no let me be more specific Yale’s Money can be the BOE’s El Dorado. Well large “benefactors” come with a price, I’m sure Yale would want to place a list rules to protect their “investment.” I’m sure the “voluntary” million Yale would give the amount would be gone before the ink was dry on the check. Maybe the BOE could entice other Sugar Daddy’s like Berkshire Hathaway or better still Yale alumni Tom Steyer just think of the progressive minds he could create with his millions, oh but I’m sure he gets a better return on investment by buying politicians.

posted by: newhavenishome on February 22, 2018  1:05pm

JCFremont is correct-neighborhood schools can solve so much of this.  I have yet to meet a resident of New Haven that sends their kids to a NHPS that is enamored with the magnet school format.  They all speak of simply wanting a quality neighborhood school for so many reasons (kids staying in and identifying with their community, not having to engage in the whole “school choice” lottery facade, REDUCED COSTS in many areas).
Our new Superintendent and BOE should take on the immense task of dismantling the magnet school system in New Haven, and creating quality neighborhood schools.  I venture to guess there would be a ton of support for that from New Haven residents. I mean, lets face it…the magnets are a miserable failure when it comes to diversity and desegregation, which is the whole reason we have them.

posted by: BevHills730 on February 22, 2018  1:21pm

JC, Tom Steyer and Berkshire Hathaway aren’t taking massive subsidies from New Haven and Connecticut in the form of tax-exempt property.

posted by: JohnTulin on February 22, 2018  2:10pm

1.  My classroom at one of our large comprehensive high schools often started out with 27 students on the roster, but rarely are 27 ever present.  Usually, you know there will only be 18-21 showing up at the beginning of the year.  Any student who shows up once stays on the books to inflate the numbers.  By the spring, there may be 10-15 showing up.  In the honors and AP classes, naturally, the classes remain full - I am talking about the rest of classes, the overwhelming majority of our high school classes. 

2. Many people in my building (and this is a reality in all buildings), did nothing all day.  Paras, deans, those on special assignment etc…chill in the halls, stare at their phones, make copies for their church or other higher priorities. 

3. We have meetings with the gurus (admin, consultants, etc) from downtown who show up late and have clearly never read the powerpoint they came to read to us.  They have no idea what they are talking about.   

There are SO MANY OTHER WAYS MONEY IS WASTED in the schools.  How about the technologies that are purchased for the next bright idea, that ends up broken, unused and missing within a year or two.  How about the salaries giving to consultants, like Billy Johnson, and the monies that were squandered for that idea that went nowhere.  No follow up, no accountability, no professionalism.  The NHPS created this bloated, ineffective mess and now are crying foul when it needs to be scaled back.  Its like they thought they could keep this up forever!

If anyone doubts any of this, please prove me wrong by hiring a private firm to audit the NHPS.  If the city won’t do that, ask why.

Other teachers, please use this forum to expose the real waste in the district, especially if you are a taxpayer in this city!

posted by: MarcoHaven on February 22, 2018  2:45pm

“Heartbreaking cuts?” The school district needs to trim about 2 percent from an ever increasing budget. Is anyone suggesting that district and the board aren’t wasting that much annually on bad decisions and personal patronage?

How much money pours into the Youth Stat/Urban Trauma initiatives that are working with fewer than 1 percent of the city’s students? Start counting up the salaries and resources that are being to devoted to that initiative. Can anyone provide quantifiable results to suggest that can confirm whether it is reckless spending or a sound decision?

Board members need to quit protecting their sacred cows and recognize that it is their job to make nominal cuts. If they don’t want to do that tough, but manageable task, they should step down.

posted by: FacChec on February 22, 2018  3:37pm

Here’s the rough plan, as presented to the committee:
Eliminate 10 administrators: $1,250,000- The new supt. said at her public review that wants to create four new positions.Eliminate 55 teachers: $3,300,000-  No problem, there are at least 75 faculty out on family leave right now for more than 6 months.
Eliminate 5 clerical staff: $175,000- Of the more than three hundred clark can only find five(5) B.S.
Eliminate 25 paraprofessionals: $550,000- Paras run the teaching system while the teachers are out on family leave, another bad idea by clark.

Reduce part-time staff: $500,000- doesn’t tell us how many positions and on what pay roll the 500K represents, B.S.
Consolidate student support staff: $500,000- Starting with the principal and five assistants at HH & WC high schools.

Switch to LED lights and Internet-enabled phones: $400,000- This was a cost reduction idea 2 years ago by Harries..Knock it off Clark B.S.
Cut back on energy costs: $250,000- Same as above, more B.S.
Close a school: $2,500,000- no close three schools and cancel plans for new builds in 2019/20.
Combine alternative education: $850,000- Reduce adult education dont need asst principal Toni Walker @133K part time.
Eliminate non-core bus routes: $750,000- elimate Ms. Teddie Barnes who schedules all these phony routes with 10 kids per bus.
Charge more for permits, restrict other building use: $200,000- Permits are user fees which must be approved separately by the recalcitrant BOA.
Maximize magnet school enrollment to cap: $1,096,380_ Magnets are financed by the state and their permission permission is required, bad idea.
Eliminate athletic programs at Creed: $300,000 Good.
Eliminate Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), Project Pride’s physical education, Talented and Gifted (TAG): Eliminate ROTC which is furthered only if the individual goes to college, there the Fed. Gov. picks up most of the cost…cut it at the high school level. So what did the BOE members contribute.B/S? left over by clark

posted by: WildwildWestEducator on February 22, 2018  8:19pm

As a taxpayer in New Haven, I am offended that non educators are determining anything for the school system. However, I agree that there are areas in the BOE that is bloated. There are double department heads and “created jobs” so that people don’t sue, but that is an open secret. I do believe that the numbers mentioned lead me to believe that a school or two will be shut down. Student support services are already spread thin, too thin in my opinion. We may save money with attrition, but we cannot count those on FMLA because as long as they have the time, they are entitled to be out. We are seeing the result of a system that counted too much on grants and the next big thing that the grant money provided. Every school was supposed to have put all those who are not in the classroom back in to take teacher positions. That has not happened take a look at select math and literacy positions where people are hidden. What about HR? Why have that when you have the talent department? I can testify from experience that restorative practices work, if you do it Correctly.  There are also schools that are left behind technologically in the district and teachers are doing Donors Choose for supplies, something has got to give, but the increased class sizes and reduced services are not it. I am also not willing to pay higher taxes because Yale owns half of New Haven and doesn’t pay taxes. I do believe they should pay their share, but not into a black hole. Maybe the new superintendent will do an audit and right the ship

posted by: Noteworthy on February 22, 2018  11:50pm

Joy Comes In The Morning Notes:

1. Morning sun has at last arrived at the NHPS. Perhaps it can finally see what should have been clear years ago. The current budget fiasco is not sustainable - and it never was. It was a sham that functioned as an employment agency for the well connected.

2. Cutting the budget this year and next brings joy not tears to my eyes.

3. This is not difficult. It’s easy to cut. I endorse Fact’s list. Awesome. Stopping any effort to build another school at Southern should be at the top of the cut list. Then close 3 schools - we have 41. Those schools are worth $3 to $6 million each. Re-distribute the kids. Eliminate all the positions.

4. That will cut down on Transportation costs too, janitorial, cafeteria and maintenance expense.

5. Only fund one assistant principal at each school. That’d cut at least 7 or 8 positions.

There are so many other areas to cut.

I’ll just say, citizens have been calling for a scaled down construction program for a long time. We’ve wanted an end to the dizzying and grossly expensive overbuilding of our public schools. We have far too many and they’re far too expensive to build and to operate.

And by the way - stop advertising for more students from outside the district.

posted by: JCFremont on February 23, 2018  9:56am

BevHills, Yale pays taxes on non education properties. If Yale paid taxes on all property would the city expect to get the same voluntary contribution as well as the increase tax money? How much is the old campus worth exactly and who would buy it? For decades when an old “historic” mansion came on the market Yale was suppose to save it. Maybe some gentrification vampires should buy up Hillhouse Ave. New Haven needs Yale, Yale’s legacy is tied to New Haven so come up with something other than Yale playing Daddy Warbucks to the BOE’s lil Orphan Annie. The whole state is following New Haven’s lead as they chase away companies. Yale “saves” West Haven’s Bayer campus, Sacred Heart buys GE’s headquarters, Quinnipiac buys Blue Cross buildings in North Haven, NHU takes Hubbell’s headquarters is CSCU going to take ESPN’s campus when they leave or collapse? You say Yale is taking a subsidy, I assume your speaking of the PILOT program and yes New Haven needs to be more vocal of getting more of those funds, are you eliminating that program in lieu of direct taxing or adding it?

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on February 23, 2018  1:40pm

>> “Yale pays taxes on non education properties. “

Well, technically the lessees of the commercial properties pay them, right?

>> “If Yale paid taxes on all property would the city expect to get the same voluntary contribution as well as the increase tax money?”

Do you have any idea how much Yale would be paying if it paid property tax on $2.5 billion worth of property?  That $8.3 voluntary contribution represents a small fraction.  I am fairly sure (please correct me if I’m wrong) that $8.3 million + the state’s PILOT payment on Yale’s behalf = considerably less than Yale’s tax burden would be.

>> “You say Yale is taking a subsidy, I assume your speaking of the PILOT program”

I was wondering about that “subsidy” too, and I assumed that was it, but Yale’s financial report also lists $201 million from the state for “research, training, clinical and other sponsored agreements in 2017.” 

>> “and yes New Haven needs to be more vocal of getting more of those funds”

Yale has skilled lobbyists and lawyers.  Another way they could help New Haven, in addition to increasing that voluntary payment, is by applying pressure at the state level to bring more funding to the city—full funding for PILOT and ECS for example.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on February 23, 2018  1:53pm

>> “Stopping any effort to build another school at Southern should be at the top of the cut list.”

This wouldn’t really help. 

(1) The school already exists.  It’s a new building, not a new school.  One hopes a new building would be cheaper to maintain than an old one. 

(2) Stopping would add nothing to the schools’ budget under discussion here.  The construction money belongs to the city and is locked in its own fund.

posted by: Sarah.Miller on February 23, 2018  4:18pm

Detailed notes and expenditures approved at this meeting are available from the NHPS Advocates Transparency Working Group: nhpsadvocates.org > Finance & Operations.

posted by: AliceB on February 23, 2018  6:01pm

Did you see the latest posting by the Human Resources Department of the BOE??  It is for a Chief Financial Officer; a new position, (they state) for the Board of Ed.  What is this paying?  No mention made of salary.  I thought we are , at the moment, looking for ways to cut the fat???  More of the same.

posted by: FacChec on February 23, 2018  6:38pm

MANY OF THE BUDGET QUESTIONS / PROPOSED SOLUTIONS WERE ASKED AND ANSWERED LAST YEAR THIS TIME REGARDING THE 2016/17 CURRENT BUDGET. (SEE MEMO ATTACHED FROM CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER vICTOR D-LAZ. sALARY…@$154,020.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=bmhwcy5uZXR8ZmluYW5jZXxneDozOTQ2YjE1NzE1ZDdjZDg5

posted by: 1644 on February 23, 2018  6:52pm

Jill: While the construction costs are added the the state’s & New Haven’s already too high debt loads, the ongoing operational costs of Strong will be an unneeded burden to the BoE.  Closing Strong and Creed will save money on administrator salaries, maintenance of buildings, coaches, special advisors, etc.  Shrinking the BoE’s phyisical footprint means fewer boilers to maintains, roofs to rebuild, sidewalks and parking lots to plow, etc., plus, if things like guidance counselors are in short supply, at least they can be better consolidated.  Most BoE in CT are trying to close schools or at least shrink their footprints.

posted by: TimeforChangeInNewHaven on February 23, 2018  11:15pm

Eliminate bloated supervisors at central office who fill in for the work of the superintendent

Superintendents evaluate principals

Stronger policies and accountability measures at central office that creates consistency across schools

Elimante the political magnet schools

Cut biased programs like tag and provide trainings for quality teachers who could meet the needs of diverse learners

All of new Haven focus on meeting diverse needs of students as district wide approach instructional practice not how to evaluate with thoughtless contracts

Create a clear direction for what instruction looks like for all schools

Why get contractors to coach leaders when right now they need backing of the sup to train staff the right way and hold people accountable

Remove these retired folks coming back for cash

Merge the alternative schools including adult education

More training on instruction not just curriculum