Subject: Monster Week for HISD Board Votes, Action Requested, and Important Updates
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2011 12:41:41 -0500
From: HISD Parent Visionaries <email@example.com>
To: HISD Parent Visionaries <firstname.lastname@example.org>
We hope you and your families have had a wonderful and healthy summer so far. As we are rapidly approach another school year, we wanted to provide an update on a number of items that have unfolded over the summer which will be voted on this Thursday, August 11, during the monthly HISD Board meeting.
The topics involve the Boards promise to restore per pupil funding to schools with surplus dollars following the final state budget, a new HISD board magnet policy, and proposed changes in the implementation of the new teacher appraisal process for this upcoming school year. In addition, we will provide information about final accountability results. All of these topics impact every one of our classrooms, teachers, principals, schools, and district as a whole. There are a couple dates you will want to save and actions you should consider taking if these items and topics are important to you and your child’s campus. Due to the scope of these issues, we will be sending updates in separate emails so that you can choose to read and forward based on topic and interest.
Topic 1: School Funding and Restoring PUA Funding with Surplus Dollars
Action Requested: Join our teachers in asking board members to vote NO to agenda item G-6 on this weeks board agenda. Instead, insist that the 18 million in surplus dollars or $85 dollars per student is sent back to campus WITHOUT handcuffing principals on how they spend the money. Insist that the superintendent and the Board keep the promise it made to communities across this ENTIRE city to restore funding that can be used to best meet the most important and most urgent needs of individual campuses as determined by the principal.
As most are aware, this past legislative session created a devastating financial crisis for public schools. The state passed a budget that included unprecedented reductions to public education funding. In response to these state reductions, HISD trustees passed a smaller school budget that closed vacant positions at central office, laid off teachers across the district, and reduced campus funding by $275 per student in every classroom. These reductions were “necessary” based on shortfall estimates generated by HISD and devastating to classrooms.
As a result of shortfall estimates, the HISD board voted this Spring to approve cuts to student funding formulas. This funding is used by principals to hire teachers and staff, pay for materials and program costs and to provide high quality educational experiences for students that meet state and federal requirements. PUA makes up the bulk of a school budget. When the PUA is increased a principal has the resources to hire additional staff, purchase additional materials, supplies, or equipment and add class offerings to students. When the PUA is reduced, which is the situation faced this year, staff is reduced and offerings are cut. This is the simple reason why there were layoffs and reductions in campus offerings planned for this upcoming school year. For example, principals had to make very hard choices and some schools will no longer be able to offer art or music while others will see a significant increase in class size.
The 2011-2012 HISD RESOURCE ALLOCATION HANDBOOK (page 3) outlines the newly reduced per unit (student) allocations voted on and approved by the HISD board for 2011-2012:
Elementary school principals receive $3,257 per student
Middle school principals receive $3,282 per student
High school principals receive $3,246 (plus $192 High School State Allotment)
(Note that on average, HISD receives an estimated $7,800 in per student funding from the state and federal government in the form of revenue and grants. Source: TEA)
The HISD Board as a group expressed great regret at the reduction in student allocations and voted unanimously with an amendment and promise to return any budget surplus that may exist after State funding figures were finalized to the schools in the form of increased student allocations or PUA funding. This Board vote turned this promise into district policy with the adoption of the 2011-2012 RESOURCE ALLOCATION HANDBOOK. Since the vote the Board approved budget cuts which have ultimately exceeded State funding reductions by $18,490,403. This $18,490,403.00 is the amount of money which according to policy must be sent back to the schools as increased PUA so that principals can restore some of the devastating campus based reductions.
This upcoming Thursday, August 11th, the Board of Trustees will be asked to vote on the following recommendation from the Superintendent. This is Agenda Item G-6:
1) Designate that the 2011–2012 General Fund excess budget reduction over state revenue reduction of $18,490,403 be placed in General Fund balance to be used to offset the projected budgetary shortfall of $44 million in the 2012–2013 fiscal year.”
That is right. The recommendation is to put the money in the bank to be used in the 2012-2013 school year. To take the sting out of this recommendation, and possibly to mollify some trustees, the Superintendent is also recommending that $18,490,403 of a $33,855,783 Federal Grant be sent to the schools at the rate of $85 per weighted unit. Actually, the entire Federal Grant should be sent to schools but that is an argument we are not going to pursue at this time.
Item G-6 continues as follows:
3) Designate that $18,490,403 of the $33,855,783 be allocated to campuses for use in three identified initiatives: technology, intervention strategies, and instructional materials. No full-time positions will be authorized since the funding is a one-time allocation. The campuses will provide a plan as to how the funds will be used. Any campus that does not need the funds in the identified areas can submit an alternate plan to the Deputy Chief Academic Officer for consideration and approval. The $18,490,403 will be allocated to campuses at $85 per weighted unit. These weighted units are based on the campuses’ preliminary budget projections adjusted for school closures and boundary changes previously approved by the Board of Education. This one-time allocation will be tracked in separate funds in order to provide specific reporting as to the use of the funds in accordance with the plans submitted by campuses.”
While the same amount of money as the surplus will be sent to the schools on a per unit basis, because it is one time funding it is not part of the regular PUA and is specifically prohibited from being used for paying full time personnel. This simply means that none of the jobs eliminated by the budget cuts can be restored from this money. It also handcuffs the principals by forcing them to spend the money on predetermined areas which may or may not be important or urgent for individual campuses. Principals must be given the power to make financial choices that best meets the needs of their students.
We need for the Board of Trustees to keep its promises to students and communities across this district and to follow its policy as expressed in the RESOURCE ALLOCATION HANDBOOK. Ask trustees to reject the recommendation as stated in Item G-6 and require the budget surplus to be sent to the schools through PUA funding thus empowering principals with the responsibility, authority, and accountability to make the best decisions for their campus.
Please, contact board members and ask them to keep their promise and give principals the power to lead. Insist that central office stop handcuffing top performing principals and stop burdening them with layers of unnecessary administrative bureaucracy as included in Agenda Item G-6.
School Board e-mail addresses
Michael L. Lunceford