Stacey Klim, Vero Beach, FL
Last night, July 31, I spoke at the Special School Board Public Hearing to Adopt the Tentative 2018-2019 Budget. I have been attending the budget workshops since April and doing a great deal of research. I have many concerns about the budget. I wanted to share the questions and concerns I spoke about last night with you. I have attached the file that includes the budget book below. The budget book starts on page 233 as Action A if you want to look at the pages I am referencing.
1. Page 6 – How many vehicles will be purchased?
2. Page 19 – Line item 3, Education for the Handicapped. I emailed Carter Morrison (Assistant Superintendent for Finance & Employee Services) and asked him what this money was. He said that it was a mistake and that the district had not received any money for this since the 2015-2016 school year. However, it is in the budget THIS year. As of April 30, 2018 it shows the district has received 2.7 million dollars year to date. When I again emailed Mr. Morrison and asked why it was in the budget this year, I received no response. Obviously if there wasn’t any money coming in, yet the district claims there was, the question is how are we spending and balancing a budget with non-existent money?
3. Page 23 – Project 616 Welding Program. There is $0.00 for this program. If we are opening up the Treasure Coast Technical College this year, and touting the welding program, how can we have zero dollars budgeted for it? Or is the money put into another department?
4. Page 27 – Rosewood Elementary has no ESE Instructional Aides listed in the staff allocation. Since my son goes to this school, and is in ESE, I know for a fact that there are instructional aides. Why does this budget not include them?
5. Page 70 – In looking at each individual school that has a gifted program there are $0.00 budgeted in each school for this program. Yet on page 70 under the staff allocation, there are 4.00 staff for the gifted program. How can there be no money but 4 staff members? Is the money coming from another department? Also, on that page there are 6 occupational therapists, 23.6 speech and language pathologists, and 1 physical therapist. How is one physical therapist addressing the needs of all the children in the school district? Are we contracting out with physical therapists?
6. Page 77 – The Naviance contract is nearly double what it has been for the last 3 years. It is $99,905.48 this year, which is $49,953.99 more than last year. Why? Additionally, are we keeping data from this program? How is the data directing our instruction in schools? Does the superintendent use Naviance Insights or Naviance Insights Premium?
Under Neola the budget proposed at the 5/22/18 meeting was $5000 for travel. Is that for Dr. Rendell to travel or for Neola people to travel here? That is a lot of money for travel.
7. Page 79 – Looking at each school and the Districtwide Services budget, the district has absolutely no money set aside for the achievement gap. With an average of 30% gap between our white and black students, this should be a high priority in every school. Any group of students falling behind should be a priority. Addressing this in a district committee is not going to solve the problem this district faces.
8. Page 84 – Project 545, Teacher Salary Allocation. This project may not be where this particular concern is located. Negotiations with our teachers and CWA union have stalled since Bruce Green left. Before he left, there were requests made for additional pay and relief from the health costs. It would be prudent to ensure there was money in the budget in the event that negotiations did call for monetary supplements.
9. Page 86 – There are no staff allocations for the additional mental health program requirements. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas/Parkland bill required mental health services in each school district. The SDIRC plan calls for 5 Social Workers and a Mental Health Coordinator. Those staff positions are not listed.
10. Page 89 – In staff services at the 6/12/18 budget meeting there was $14,400 set aside for recruitment. A few months ago there was a Twitter post of staff in either Michigan or Minnesota, I believe, recruiting teachers. Research shows that college students go to college where they want to live. We need to use this money recruiting here in Florida and surrounding states. My opinion is we need more money for recruiting. We need to get aggressive with recruiting. My son didn’t have a teacher all of last year, as you know. When we can’t get teachers, we have students who are not getting the appropriate education they are entitled too. And in the case of my son, he lost a great deal of academic gains. Recruitment should be of high priority for this district.
11. Page 91 – At the 5/22/18 budget workshop there was a proposal from the curriculum department to hire a “Coordinator of Professional Development”. The reasoning was that the Fundations and Smart Horizons programs would no longer be utilized in the schools so that money could be used for this new position along with a “District Literacy Specialist”. The cost of the Coordinator of Professional Development position would be $94,600 with benefits. With the budgeted amount under Teacher Cert/Staff Development, if this position was filled it would lower this budget to $37,335.20. Where then would money for professional development come from? As it is now, the district requires teachers to pay for a lot of their own professional development. They aren’t paid stipends or comp time. If we want high quality teachers in our district we need to financially support their professional development. Doing so would improve morale and lead to better retention. District imposed professional development does not support our teachers in their professional goals.
12. Page 120 – The district made a promise to staff to pay $7 million dollars into Safe Harbor for the health insurance. Two payments have been made – $2.3 million and $1.56 million. This year the district is supposed to make another $1.56 million payment. However, Mr. Morrison indicated at the last budget meeting that he wants to wait on that payment until he gets clarification from the insurance advisor/agent on whether that payment needs to be made. As a result, there is no money budgeted for that payment. What happens if that payment needs to be made? Where will the money come from? Budgeting on a “what if” doesn’t seem fiscally responsible to me. Not only that, but because of this error, the district made a promise to employees that this $7 million would be paid and that it would not fall on the staff to make it up. Yet our staff has had increasing medical costs. This $1.56 million payment needs to be put in the budget.
Stacey Klim is a candidate for the School District of Indian River County School Board / District 4.
This article has been published for information purposes and does not constitute an endorsement.