Budget Cuts and Stimulus Monies

December 16, 2009 by  
Filed under SC Politics

In March 2009, 108 of our State Representatives voted to accept the $787 million dollar stimulus package and incorporated these monies into our operating budget for fiscal year 2010.

To this date, the SC Budget Control Board has had to cut a total of 9% (4% in Sept. 09 and 5% in Dec. 09) off of the budget which is approximately $440 million dollars.  My simple math shows me that 55% of the federal monies added to our operating budget has been cut out of the budget.

If we repeat last year with an overall cut of 15%, almost 90% of the federal stimulus monies added into the budget would be cut.

You can argue that this was not the federal monies all you want, but had the state honored Gov. Sanford’s wishes in excluding that money from the budget, for a more conservative budget, one could argue we would not be having the headlines we are seeing today.

According to WSPA, the first 4% reduction actually cut $85 Million from our education programs in the state.  Many of you may remember that our elected officials lobbying for this money said that teachers would lose jobs and schools would close had they not accepted the money.

My only question to our leaders is that if they could not survive without the monies then, how are they going to survive now?

I for one find myself in an ever delicate situation as the Spartanburg Charter School begins revising their budgets for the latest cuts. We are looking to cut an additional $36K or 5% out of our already tight budget.

The Public Charter School District (emphasis on public), which consists of a few brick and mortar schools (including SCS) and several virtual schools receives approximately $3000 per the state budget allocations. The Public Charter School District only receives funding from state sources whereas the traditional public school receives funding from federal and local sources as well.

For comparison sake, the average school district in SC receives approximately $11,000 per pupil before budget cuts and about $10,000 per pupil after the cuts.  Understand that these figures do not include transportation and other services, this is for primary education purposes.

Our leaders are claiming that they wish to reform education and provide public options, I want to ask them these questions:

  • Why are we not providing these kids with the same opportunities as their brethren across town?
  • Why can we not say as a state that every child gets $8,000 and it follows them to any public school they choose to attend?
  • What makes the students in the Fairfield School District ($15,240/pupil) more special than those in the Dillon 3 School District ($7,865/pupil) or the Charter School District for that matter($3000/pupil)?

If we are going to reform education, we must ensure that our students are equally funded.  It will also require our leadership to make hard decisions, including targeted spending reductions to non-essential services instead of broad brush strokes that drains the entire state.

SC State Budget Education Provisions

Spartanburg Charter School Open Enrollment

November 5, 2009 by  
Filed under News

The Spartanburg Charter School (SCS) has begun its open enrollment period to allow new students the opportunity to attend Spartanburg’s only alternative public school option.  The open enrollment period is primarily open for new kindergarten students, but a few seats remain in other grade levels.  Due to the limited amount of space at the school, enrollment will be based on a lottery pick in February.

What makes the Spartanburg Charter School special.  This is a quick overview of SCS’s program.

Spartanburg Charter School offers an educational program inspired by the Reggio Emilia method. The name is a reference to a village in Italy where, post-World War II, an educational philosophy emerged.  It emphasizes respect, responsibility, and community, encourages student exploration in an enriching environment, and has proven to be among the most successful educational strategies in the world.

The vision of SCS is the creation of a community of students with exceptional critical-thinking, creative, and problem-solving skills.  With these skills, students will achieve their personal and career goals and become engaged members of the communities in which they live.

In order to achieve this vision, SCS focuses on the “whole child” – addressing children’s cognitive, physical, and social-emotional needs as a means of maximizing their personal achievement.  SCS addresses these three aspects of development with research-proven methods:

  1. for cognitive development- an inquiry-based curriculum, single-gender multi-grade classes, and a core class size of 11 in grades K-3;
  2. for physical development- PE/yoga and recess every day;
  3. social-emotional development – the 2nd-Step Violence Prevention Program, school uniforms, and a school culture infused with the principles of respect, responsiblity, and community.

Furthermore, based on their MAP scores, kids are grouped, for part of EACH day, into Intervention or Advancement Teams in order to address specific skill deficits or advancement needs daily.

Check out spartanburgcharterschool.org to learn more and register your kids to participate in this one of a kind alternative public school option.

If you find the mission and education plan encouraging and would like to help financially, you can make contributions to the Spartanburg Charter School online by selecting the Spartanburg Charter School Founders Fund.

School is Out Early in South Carolina

May 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Opinion

School is Out Early in South Carolina

School is Out Early in South Carolina

I respect our teachers and the hard work they put in for our kids.  They are true heroes for the hell they go through to teach our kids.

With that said though, I do take issue with the practice of ending all educational teaching approximately 2 weeks before the end of the year.

Our worst in the nation education system apparently quits teaching as soon as students have taken their MAP, PASS (formerly PACT), or whatever other tests they may have to take.  Our students then sit in a classroom and play games, do crafts and watch movies for the final two weeks of school.  Not to mention the two half-days which amounts to a babysitting job for the teachers.

I have talked to some teachers in Spartanburg School District 2 that have already turned in textbooks and have submitted their final grades, all as of late last week.  Correct me if I am wrong, but when I was in school, textbooks were taken up and grades submitted on the next to last day.  The final day was used for goodbye, class parties and the distribution of report cards, when it was all done by hand.  If technology is supposed to make everything faster, then why are they closing down so early?

Schools are required by state law to have 180 instructional school days.  I guess it is up to the school district to determine what constitutes an instructional school day.  I would say that our students are only getting 167 instructional school days, if all of those days are used for instruction.

Let me be clear though, I am not pinning this on the teachers. They are doing what is asked of them.

I believe this falls into the hands of our school district administrators and they must be held accountable!

James Smith and Jim Rex are Minimally Adequate

November 25, 2008 by  
Filed under SC Politics

James Smith and Jim Rex are both rumored to be contestants for the Democratic Gubernatorial Ticket.  And it appears that they both believe the same thing.

The two are both grandstanding on SC Education problems believing that a Constitutional amendment is necessary to fix our public education system.  Here is what James Smith had to say in a recent email:

Fellow South Carolinians:
The election of our new president has proven that we are willing to bring CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN to America. We are asking for your help to make a CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN for South Carolina.

Please sign the petition supporting a constitutional amendment to insert the words “high quality education” in South Carolina’s constitution, replacing our current standard of “a minimally adequate education.”

The petition asks the legislature to allow the people of South Carolina to vote on this amendment in the 2010 election, and we are the principal sponsors of this legislation. Please join us today!

Go to www.GoodbyeMinimallyAdequate.com and sign the petition today.
Let’s bring CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN to South Carolina!
Thank you.
State Senator John Matthews (Senate District 39)
Representative James Smith (House District 72)

With all due respect, how much more money can we throw at the public school system and expect changes?  I am reminded of a quote from Albert Einstein.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

And you cannot blame it all on the teachers or the educators.  When are the parents going to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the individuals they placed in this world?

When are you going to allow teachers to fail students again with out being punished?  When you are moving kids along when they are not ready to move to a higher grade?  You are punishing the rest of the kids in the classroom.  It is bad when a teacher says the following to you:

We cannot move on to the next phase of math though because the rest of the students are not ready.

Forget “minimally adequate”.  The parents of these children need to take the responsibility to work with their kids.  Some of these parents need to learn English.  That would be the first step in solving some of our problems.  Next communicate with your teachers, find out what YOU can do to make your child better and you, the parent, work with your children.

Speaking of which, it is time to do homework now!

I hope the people of South Carolina get a better choice for Governor than these two individuals.

Spartanburg Town Hall Meeting – School Choice

October 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Press Release

Families in Spartanburg are talking about school choice.

Parents want more options for their children and better accountability from their public schools. They want to get the facts about high public school spending, low test scores and how broader access to private schools will improve performance for all students.

Come and join the discussion!

Pizza will be served!

Tuesday, October 28th, 6:30 p.m

Merryland Child Development 
95 Ashley Street, Spartanburg

Learn more: http://schoolchoicenow.wordpress.com/

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