• How Greenwich Is Getting Deceived Into A Higher Public School Budget

    January 22, 2024
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    The National Review published a must-read article about how superintendents deceive taxpayers into higher school budgets.

    The article starts off by highlighting the uproar over the proposed budget cuts impacting foreign languages and physical education in Greenwich public schools, arguing this is a common tactic used by superintendents to prevent the hard, but necessary work of making meaningful financial and structural reforms.

    "This strategic maneuver of targeting cherished programs serves as a diversion from more significant financial issues within the budget and the district’s collective-bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union,” says Frank Ricci, who penned the article.

    Ricci goes on to explain how he used similar bargaining tactics when he was a firefighter’s union president.

    He says not to fall for the emotional pleas, but to instead dig deeper, ask tough questions, and drill down on the detailed data to better understand the budget.  The goal, of course, should always be to improve student educational outcomes and eliminate administrative inefficiencies.

    The article calls out Greenwich Superintendent Toni Jones for proposing cuts to “seemingly indispensable programs” just to trigger emotional outrage among parents.  

    So instead of focusing the budget debate on actual financial and structural reforms, the focus becomes an entirely emotional appeal — how could you cut physical education? How could you cut foreign language? Which is followed by a parade of teary-eyed parents tugging at heartstrings in BOE meetings, thinking they are taking the right steps to save these popular programs.

    But don’t fall for this tactic.  

    It’s not the best way to save these programs.

    And it diverts your attention from real, potentially serious issues within the budget.

    This manufactured drama is meant to "shield against public scrutiny of proposed budget increases and broader budgeting issues and a way to distract from a focus on potential areas where cost reductions could be more judiciously applied,” Ricci warns.  He urges people to assess recent staffing expansions, for instance, to see if they resulted in academic improvements.  If not, then that's a good place to start looking for cuts.  

    He also says that superintendents should have to detail the relationship between test scores, enrollment and the hiring additional staff to justify current staffing levels.  If more staff doesn’t lead to better educational outcomes, then there’s another place to look for cuts.

    Ricci also encourages board members to evaluate spending and procurement practices. He says that a number of superintendents still operate under the “spend it or lose it” mantra, so they can end up protecting funding by spending in haste at the end of the budget cycle instead of making sure that any money spent improves outcomes.Tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 23rd, is the Board of Estimate and Taxation Budget Meeting.  It’s at 6pm in the Town Hall Meeting room, and you can also watch on Greenwich Community Television.

    Let’s hope that the Greenwich Board of Education members live up to their responsibility to thoroughly evaluate the budget.

    And let’s also hope that the emotional pleas focused on superficial cuts are ignored, and that the focus instead is on making meaningful budget changes that directly improve students' outcomes while eliminating administrative inefficiencies.

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    Paul A

    Listen up Greenwich parents. You are being fooled. Just look one town away at Stamford Public Schools. Last year they doubled the budget from the previous year. This year they want a 6.4% budget increase. Our grandchildren will be born with a public school bill with billions over 20 years spent on demolishing and building new schools when most are fine. Our education is below proficiency rates in reading and math.

    Paul A

    The Stamford superintendent cut most libraries and want to cut teachers in this 6.4% budget increase when we have an abundance of central office administrators that are mostly useless. DEI has stripped education from SPS with grading for equity, no midterms or finals, an absentee and tardiness policy that says kids can pass missing 45 minutes of an 80 minute class, absences do not count towards your grade all while there is a declining enrollment into kindergarten in Stamford.

    Last edited 4 months ago by Paul A
    Paul A

    They disrespect teachers and do not include their expertise in decision making, great teachers will leave our district and hiring teachers here is impossible. The “right to read”mandate will be implemented no matter how good your reading curriculum in place is. The BOE has ceded oversight, giving power to the super. I can go on and on. Todays superintendents are ruining our districts and want an unimaginable amount of tax dollars, for what!!!! Wise up Greenwich the writing is on the wall.

    Last edited 4 months ago by Paul A
    Paul A

    Oh, one more thing. A technology policy that strips students from being responsible for missing or broken tech devices. This policy in Chicago schools has cost taxpayers 23 million dollars. SPS is being turned into a billion dollar day care off the backs of hard working taxpayers. All I can say is push back as hard as you can. You can’t give an inch they or they will continue to increase the budget with no return on education.

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