We saw another non-budget budget last night at the board meeting. Oh, they showed a salary amount and a few reductions called programmatic changes, even the projected deficit ( after the levy!) of about $251,000 - but where is the money spent? How many federal grants are being served by our district? How much cost does the district assume for these grants? We see a utility savings of $75,000.00 (warm winter) but how much are we paying in additional utilities for Lincoln and Ray Bjork that house only programs on Federal Grants (PAL, Head Start, PEAK, Special Education preschool)? I've seen budgets down to paper clips with no mention of where the $250,000.00 fee for MOSAIC (the planning firm) came from. Just a vague reference to "Contingency funds" when I asked. Does the board even know where they are spending our money? Do they care? I mentioned that DARE has not reduced drug usage for 30 years and a board member told me- astonishingly- that there's other things to look at than effectiveness.
SERIOUSLY? WHAT WOULD THAT BE ??
I have never seen a budget that shows where all the district dollars are being spent. I have never seen a breakdown in school costs versus program costs. I know all these programs think they're basic academics- BUT THEY ARE NOT!! Sadly I have never seen a grant, the cost of or the effectiveness of it, ever discussed by the board. In fact, I don't think the board is consulted before a grant is applied for. The budget is just up in the air it seems. The board voted for the most expensive option in voting for busses with seat belts, with no discussion of the districts looming deficits. I believe what we are seeing here in Helena is a microcosm of exactly what is going on in our nations capital-THE BELLY OF THE BEAST!! They did have a presentation from PEAK, and asked some questions, but PEAK isn't going anywhere apparently. I don't know about you folks but when we make a big purchase at our house we look at all our costs before deciding to go ahead with it. If we don't have the money we don't make the purchase. The way budgets are presented the board doesn't really know what they can afford. I guess that's why they go for the most expensive options and never question new programs- only praise them.
The schools in Helena are a soft hit for every radical group out there, especially since they passed the "Comprehensive Health" plan and got away with it. Things are so corrupt that the wife of the president of the union is running for the school board- legally!! I have no doubt that she will win and then not recuse herself from the union contract negotiations!! Wow. The democrats are running three candidates for two seats- interesting. Are they trying to get rid of a particular board member who voted against the Comprehensive Health? They are very brazen now- you better be with them on everything or your out!!
THE BELLY OF THE BEAST becomes more corrupt and irresponsible all the time. The name of the game is to go along with and praise every federal program, especially "Comprehensive Health". Surprise surprise- did you know a Comprehensive Health teacher is getting an award as an outstanding educator?? Yes, if you want to be an outstanding educator just learn how to teach "barriers to oral and anal sex" to 5th graders!!How long have the liberals been playing this awards game? Has anyone besides me woken up to it? The liberals sure hope not- if you wake up to it there goes one big crack in their public relations game.
The board is so bowled over and insecure that they have been talked into believing they can't even run the school district without firms (like we did in the old days when we had more students, more elementary schools, and better scores). They needed a firm to find five people to interview for the superintendents job and to choose one. Now they think they may need that same firm to help them decide how to evaluate the superintendent and to set goals (even though they hired this superintendent because strategic planning was his area of expertise!)Three more expensive workshops- and remember the budget is in a $250,000.00 deficit. The workshops also include costs for travel, lodging and meals for the consultants!Wow- they just spend money as if it just keeps coming from SOMEWHERE. I guess they don't run out of money as we do in our own household budgets.
Our board members are educated individuals but they don't think they can decide to have their professionals write a good curriculum, choose good curriculum materials, and teach in a challenging, competitive and comprehensive way. Essentially, they think they need a firm to get them on board with NATIONAL objectives. Common Core gives them a ready made curriculum, so I guess the STRATEGIC PLAN is just to get in line with all the FEDERAL PROGRAMS.
THE BELLY OF THE BEAST is an ugly place. It's a place where schools aren't run locally anymore and school board members don't even have control of their budget,much less,know what programs are coming and going in their schools. A place where board members don't dare to evaluate programs and choose the ones they want and the ones they don't want. A place where nepotism, like the board chair advocating for programs that are under his umbrella as state chair of AWARE, or the union president's wife running for the school board, is accepted with a nod and a yawn. I yearn for the day when the public will wake up and limited government,common sense and school vouchers will run a dagger through the BELLY OF THE BEAST!!