Friday, February 13, 2009

Sobol on the BOE budget vote

From the MRJs Jesse Buchanan:

After rejecting the budget proposed by school Superintendent Greg Florio, the Board of Education passed a budget reduced by $1.1 million...

The reductions were not enough according to Alan Sobol, though. He said 64 percent of the town's budget goes to education, and said to place that burden on taxpayers was unfair. The school system will have more than 200 fewer students next year and Sobol wants the district to reconsider staffing levels.

"I don't think the reductions we have will restructure and retool the school system, which is what we have to do," he said. "I want to see bold, innovative changes."


Also last night, Alan mentioned that there are currently 23 more teachers in the schools than in the 04/05 year (the zero budget). Yet student enrollment has dropped several hundred students.

From my perspective, that doesn't make much sense.

Read the full article... there's a lot more in there.

Tim White

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hurray for Alan Sobol.

Florio and the union are taking the taxpayers to the cleaners. Enough of the poor little children will suffer stuff. We have seen that when anyone says anything about financial responsibility, the first thing Florio says is that students will have to pay for activities or some other things that only impact students, but never teachers or the administration.

We have to outsource the management of our school system. There is something basically wrong when enrollments are down and staffing keeps peaking.

The Town Council should not approve this budget until significant cuts are made and if the union doesn't want to help then layoffs should be made.

The town coucil should immediately hire a consultant to review the entire school system for the purposes of significantly reducing the costs.

Anonymous said...

Boy, did the boe screw up the "script" at this meeting - 2 tie votes which means 2 failed votes - then another vote rejecting the super's proposed budget (failed 2 - 4) - then an announcement that the budget will automatically go to the TC as proposed - then a procedural question on that statement - then instead of sending it back to the finance committee (I guess no one wanted to have another meeting before the 15th)the vote was "reconsidered" and then passed with a 1.1 million reduction.

How come when the TC had that "tie" vote (same as a failed vote)on the trash contract that they sent it straight back to the committee level, yet the BOE just kept voting and revoting until it got passed?? Pretty screwy if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

medical trust for the cheshire schools had a balance per greg florio's trust fund report given to the public during the budget meetings as of 6/30/08 of 1,185,291

. new taxpayers dollars of 6,197,000 were budget by the board of eduacation for the same year.(08-09

for this year (08-09)greg has ( 1,185,291+6,197,000=7,382,291 + emplyoee contributions of 1,825,398,03 for a total of 9,207,689.

greg is projecting his total claims to be 6,945,220, which he came up with by taking the first 6 months ( 7/1/08-12/31/08 divided 6 x 12)


, he released claim reports for the ppo for 12/07-12/08 which are the more accurate way a professional insurance broker would project 7/1/09 7/1/10 cost projects and surplus. his project of only 360,071 is based on a false way of projecting future claim cost and trust fund balance.


on page 4 in his budget book he shows a total cost of ppo claims , ppo, hmo and hsa fixed costs from page 3 and 4 as 8,491,751.28 . then he adds in a 8% increase of 679,340.10 for med and rx and another 137,617.37 for dental. then he adds in an access fee of 220,416.04 , 552,305.07 for 10% margin, 85,000 for waviers and 2,000 for hepetiits vaccine /other. - new employee contributions of ( 1,825,398.03 + 146,031,84 ) total 1,971,429.80 to get to 8,196.999.99. because of tought times he decides we can take the risk of removing 500,000 from the 10% margin and 300,000 from some savings in the 08/09 budget. this leaves his medical request at 7,397,000.


now lets do it the true way. the claims from the blue cross reports release to the board of ed members projected correctly ( dec 07 -dec08 ) for 7/1/09-7/1/10 would project budgeted taxpayers money needed to fund the ppo claims at 100% , ppo ,hmo and hsa fixed costs at 100% at 7,735,499.20 ( not 8,491,751.28) no need to add 8% increase of 679,340.10 for med and rx, 137,617.37 for dental increase ,220,416,04 for access fee increase because these increases are already in the 8,491,751.28 number. so we should be taking 7,735,499.20 + 552,305.07 +87,000 for waivers, 2,000 for hepetitis vaccine. this equals 8,376804.20 - employee contributions of 1,971429.80 = 6,405,374.40 - 500,000 10% margin removal - his 300,000 savings from 08/09 budget leaves us at a need for the 7/1/09-7/1/10 cost of line item 201 ppo claims at 100% , ppo , hmo , hsa fixed costs at 100% at 5,605,374.40 or 591,626 less taxpayer dollars needed budget for line item 201.


this has nothing to do with the trust fund money at the end of last 6/30/08 of 1,185,291 .


so instead of a 1,200,000 , he should have been asking for 0 because he is budget at 110% of cost for 09/10 at current budget number of 6,197,000 . and the 1,185,291 money in the trust fund ( line item 201 balance at 6/30/08 ) will not be spent this year.

so if the board voted to remove 1.1 from the budget on 2/12/09 and dont need 1,2 for medical. then the 2.3 million greg needed can and i will beat you bottom dollar removed by mr milone and mr ecke. because they have already planned it this way.

when you are the insurance company ( self insuring ppo ) you can have decreases in your cost. it is called profit. when you are a non profit school you get to kept it not the insurance company. this year we are making a projected profit 591,626 below our current budget. this again has nothing to do with the trust fund ( line 201 year end surplus of 1,185,291.


if we want to kept everything the same on the school side we dont need to raise taxes or borrow from our towns surplus to pay for medical benefit increases.


mr sobol without even understanding the insurance picked the right number to reduce 1.5 . that is the over budgeted insurance number not needed as explained above.


the 1.1 remove the other night was just because people are up for reelection in a tough economic climated . bob behrer held the union controlled votes the chairmen and peter massey hostage .


the schools need to break off from the town on the insurance and every year they have a profit like the insurance companies they can build up some really big trust funds ( reserves) to improve the instructional expense , support services, maintenace and operations , and even add staff without raising taxes. it can be done if the public would wake up . sincerely an advocate for the people by the people and of the people

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how others interpret Robert's Rules as they relate to the BOE budget vote, but this is how it reads:

Robert's Rules says: "The motion to reconsider allows the assembly to change its mind about how the membership voted on a motion. It goes on to say: To prevent its dilatory use by the losing side, only a member that voted on the prevailing side can make the motion, although anyone can second it. It is debatable if the type of motion to be reconsidered is debatable, and debate can go to the merits of the main motion. The motion to reconsider is not amendable and requires a majority vote for adoption."

So if the main motion of whether or not to accept the super's original proposed budget (the 60 million $ number that was last voted on and failed by 2 - 4 vote)was up for another vote, then the board could change their minds about how they voted, but they should not have amended the numbers.

Any experts out there? What's your interpretation?
sz

Anonymous said...

Keep it simple. IN the zero budget year Florio asked for 2.4 mil and got 234k at the last minute. So ask yourself, better yet ask Florio how he managed to run the school system with an increase of only 234k when he needed 2.3 mil? The world did not end, teacher salaries were paid, health benefits were paid. He did it once, now he can perform the same magic again. Maybe he should go to Washington and take over the bailout.

Anonymous said...

8:41...I agree with you 100% but I also think it's important to know and follow the proper rules and procedures at a meeting. :)

Anonymous said...

bottom line line item 201 medical dental and drug insurance cheshire schools

surplus in line item 201 6/30/08 was 1,185,921

budget for 7/1/08-7/1/09 6,197,000

projected surplus for line item 201 for 6/30/09 1,777,597

budget needed for line item 201 for all medical drug and dental expenses for budget year 7/1/09-7/10 is 6,197,000 or a 0 increase.

why did mr florio ask for 1.2 million when he has projections from his broker telling him otherwise.

which bd of ed members are aware of the real numbers.

it is that simple.

Anonymous said...

How is it that we are continually dropping the student enrollment but never the amount of teachers? When are the taxpayers of Cheshire going to finally smarten up? Also why is it that the taxpayers are always confronted with the same, worn out line about "you can't hurt the children". The teachers union has no qualms when it comes to asking for large increases during bad economic times, doesn't that ultimately "hurt the children".

Anonymous said...

1:35 & 10:34, I assume you are the same person.
If not, hen both of you should run for TC, unless you are already on it.
You have extremely valid points that should be brought to the public's attention. Perhaps some of us tax payers should chip in for a full page ad to eduacate the public.

Sometimes I wonder if Florio really does know what the real world is like.

Anonymous said...

it gets worst with the medical insurance.

past members of both the republican and democratic party because they dont understand how insurance companies make their profits. have vote for contracts that actually made our programs more profitable for blue cross and not the schools.

we have a self funded ppo , which means we are the insurance company and in good years we get to kept the profits.


this year the real claim projects are for a profit of 591,626 .


because school have a contract with blue cross together with the town and have offer a hmo to all school and town employees , just so mike milone can get his way , blue cross takes around a 45% profit on the hmo.

the schools teachers pay 16% of the cost of the self funded ppo , it would be more profitable for the taxpayers ,if the teachers paid 25% of the richer benefit plan , then offer the hmo which the teachers pay a 12% cost share out of their pay.



every time a teachers takes the hmo blue cross makes 45% profit and the schools lose 45% profit that could be money divert to invest in improving the quality of our schools without raising money from new taxes.

greg florio needs to separate from milone on the insurance

it is easy .


he and or the bd of ed can take the commissions paid to the current broker milone hires for the town and bd of ed and use that to hire their own expert.

that would be better than new people running for town council

it doesnt matter who sits on the twon council or bd of ed .

this town is run by buracrats

the people need to get off their couches and ask for real answers , why this place is like groundhog day movie .

every year looks the same in the end .

Anonymous said...

it gets worst with the medical insurance.

past members of both the republican and democratic party because they dont understand how insurance companies make their profits. have vote for contracts that actually made our programs more profitable for blue cross and not the schools.

we have a self funded ppo , which means we are the insurance company and in good years we get to kept the profits.


this year the real claim projects are for a profit of 591,626 .


because school have a contract with blue cross together with the town and have offer a hmo to all school and town employees , just so mike milone can get his way , blue cross takes around a 45% profit on the hmo.

the schools teachers pay 16% of the cost of the self funded ppo , it would be more profitable for the taxpayers ,if the teachers paid 25% of the richer benefit plan , then offer the hmo which the teachers pay a 12% cost share out of their pay.



every time a teachers takes the hmo blue cross makes 45% profit and the schools lose 45% profit that could be money divert to invest in improving the quality of our schools without raising money from new taxes.

greg florio needs to separate from milone on the insurance

it is easy .


he and or the bd of ed can take the commissions paid to the current broker milone hires for the town and bd of ed and use that to hire their own expert.

that would be better than new people running for town council

it doesnt matter who sits on the twon council or bd of ed .

this town is run by buracrats

the people need to get off their couches and ask for real answers , why this place is like groundhog day movie .

every year looks the same in the end .

Anonymous said...

why not use video conferencing with other towns to share AP teachers? A teacher can rotate among 2 or 3 towns ..we could offer more AP classes this way..
I agree with Alan..let's be creative

Anonymous said...

To reduce costs, the TC should consider combining town departments and sections. Maybe the school maintenance activities can be better served by merging school maintenance with the other town maintenance functions. Maybe the town development coordination activites can be part of P&Z, and so on.

The point is that it doesn't make sense to have a lot of organizational boxes that don't fully utilize their resources or that share equipment and personnel.

Anonymous said...

Is Florio ready and willing to tell the 20+ teachers that they never should have hired over the past several years that they will not have contract next year?
Or is the union willing to make concessions to save some of its own members?

Anonymous said...

wake up

the teachers contract is done. go to the state of connecticut web site campaign finace . look at the cheshire democratic town committee money trail. the education assoication of cheshire gave the democratics 1,000. also individual contributions can be followed. in the town clerks office each candidate. hall , ecke, etc have their campaign money filed there. the 5-4 not to challenge is now lost for 3 years. unions will shoot their young to kept what they won in the contract battle. rules of the game .

as the person said early because the self funded insurance is making a profit of almost 600,000 what do we have to worry about. the differnce in the end will between the republicans and democratics will be about 100,000 t0 200,000 . in tax increases or borrowing from surplus to fund education when it doesnt need a dime unless the bd of ed wants to increase services . the 2.3 million florio budget went down 4-2 with one absent. so give the schools 0 because the 1.2 left is not needed according to the other article . and stop all the worrying.

we need jim sima as major with 6 republicans .


the reason is mr white was backed by the same people behind hall, ecke and dill when he ran for state rep.

follow the money it will lead you to the truth.

jim sima is a man who will put the people first with 4 other repubicans ( not counting mr white) and not the special interest groups that really dont care about quality of education in cheshire.

Anonymous said...

Budget vote aside, wasn't it nice of Mr. Behrer to update everyone on the turf project. He said that with the poor economy things have been put on hold for a while; the safety issues have been settled too with M & M's review; and the turf will come up again for discussion in about 2 months.

Two months! Does he think things will be better in 2 months? What is he, nuts??

Anonymous said...

The teacher union doesn't care about students or the taxpayers. Their only interest is money. What do the teachers think about it all, they nlove it and the money. You didn't hear any of them to urge the union to renegotiate.

They are certainly teaching the students, get yours and the H with everyone else.

tim white said...

the reason is mr white was backed by the same people behind hall, ecke and dill when he ran for state rep.

follow the money it will lead you to the truth.


I'm not sure I follow.

Did Ecke / Hall file campaign finance reports in 2007? I understood them to be under the $1,000 limit which permits a candidate to not file a receipts / expenditures report. And if that's the case, how would one "follow the money?"

Personally, I don't spend or raise much money. I prefer to knock on doors, rather than spend thousands of dollars on advertising.

Additionally, I publicly supported the state campaign finance reform. Is it perfect? No way. But it was an improvement that I believe will help reduce ridiculous claims that an elected official is beholden to a particular person / group.

Anonymous said...

"I understood them to be under the $1,000 limit which permits a candidate to not file"

If you don't have to file under $1000, it still gives the special interests a great opportunity to buy a candidate. For theoretical purposes, assume that there is a prominent family that has many relatives, business affiliates, customers and employees. If they all gave below the limit, you could have a real chunk of money that the public was unaware of.

I think the law has to be changed. If a candidate gets more than say $10,000 in total, they have to list everyone who contributed. afor a

tim white said...

For clarity, the $1,000 limit is an aggregate amount.

Personally, I enjoy the Council. So I'm comfortable spending a few hundred dollars (something less than $1,000) of my own money every two years.

Anonymous said...

Why do we go through the BOE budget workshop process in such excruciating detail, line by line, and then allow BOE members to propose reducing it by a large arbitraty amount?

Where did Behrer/Sobol come up with 1/1.5 million? Please put together a list of cuts that total your reductions of the Supt's proposed budget.

I saw Behrer weasel out of this direct question by stating that there are unknowns at this point. There are ALWAYS unknowns in every business! Forecast, make projections, and justify your decision.

The answer I would like to hear: "Based on estimates at this point in time, and if all things held true, I propose the 1/1.5 million come from reducing account ### by $###", and so on line by line until you reach your $1/1.5 million.

If you want to be a hero by reducing the proposed amount, state publicly that you want to eliminate 20 full time teaching positions, or all non-varsity sports or whatever you think it is that needs to go. JUST TELL US! Don't just throw a number out there so that the BOE won't have to hear it is a "rubber stamp" or "can't make the tough decisions". Do what you believe and justify it to the people at the meeting or watching.
.

Anonymous said...

Why can you sell your house for 20% more in Cheshire than in our surrounding towns? Because people with school aged children will beg, borrow and steal to get an 06410 at the end of their address to attend public school. See it's not about the "poor little children" it's strictly business

Anonymous said...

A previous poster would like to see a little more of the Florio "magic". That is what is will take this year.

This whole process needs to be revamped. People are made to think they are invloved in the process. They spend time attending budget workshops, watching on TV, etc. and then the proposed budget number from the super is hacked away at. Not dissected using a scalpel, just chunks taken out.

If the town has a number in mind as to what they are willing to spend on education this year, let's start there. The rest is pointless. Send that number to the BOE and let them make it work.

When we are last in per pupil spending in the state will that be good enough?

Florio works miracles with a smaller staff of administrators than any other similarly sized district, spends less than 75% of the school districts in CT, and has a proven track record of student achievement.

Anonymous said...

Hurray for Alan Sobol? His best comment yet on how to solve the budget crisis was that "we absolutely cannot have a student activity fee". I believe less revenue actually makes it worse, no?
Put 30 kids in a class at Dodd, lose exemplary teachers to other better paying districts, but please no student activity fee.

Anonymous said...

Video conferencing is an option to explore. It is difficult to pull off due to all high schools having different schedules (length of periods, rotations, etc.) and you still need a teacher/proctor at each site.

There was distance learning at CHS via satellite a few years ago coordinated through ACES but several obstacles led to its demise.

Technology would need to be funded at a much more appropriate level than what it is now.

Anonymous said...

Anybody catch Jeff Leake's comments at the meeting? He wanted the BoE to increase the superintendent's budget. He said the sky's not falling, and if in a few months things get worse and it "rains" then use the rainy day fund. He alluded to Cheshire being a "rich" town. Now's not the time to cut anything he said.

Anonymous said...

If a previous poster has followed any of the past budgets he/she would realize that the small amount of $$$ the fees raise are a very, very,very small percent of the BOE budget. It's a ploy to get the parents mad and to come out to support the budget. This was used before and makes no sense. I'm sure that they can find this amount of money somewhere? Be creative. This is why I'm sure one of the BOE members said no to this proposal.

Anonymous said...

If the student activity amount is too small to make a difference, than it ought to be increased until it covers 100% of the costs. This would include, transportation, security at home games, maintenance staff, utilities, coaching stipends and the AD's contract.

Here is a creative suggestion. the school system should educate, everything else is extra. With all of the unfunded mandates and Special Education costs being dumped on the school system, I see no other choice.

How about if the board member that said no gets creative? Cut 1.5 million and then instruct Florio to "get creative". Why are you on the board? Florio proposed what it takes to run the school system including the elimination of staff. Didn't we already tear this budget apart and sift through it? Ask questions, offer suggestions. All I heard from Sobol that was tangible so far was "no activity fee" and "reduce by 1.5 million". How does this help?

I don't want Florio to spend his time being creative with the budget. I would like to see him spend his time and creativity enhancing the education of the students and not crunching numbers for six months. Yes, he has to do this because we eliminated his previous position as business manager to save money!

I would not begin to tell Sobol or Brittingham how to run their practice or business. I realize they are elected to the board by the people to govern Florio and the school system. However, they told someone with a doctorate degree in education that the proposal he made to fund a top school system that already spends far less than any other of its caliber, to "be creative". How about question, research, offer alternatives, debate those alternatives. I do not see any of that. I hear "too expensive, unfair burden, fiscally responsible,tough economic times" we are all aware of the situation facing the country. I do not need the update on the state of the economy at a BOE meeting.