Friday, November 13, 2015

November 15th

Looking forward to Sunday morning, opening day of Firearms Deer Season!!  Hopefully the inbred morons that damaged my blind, and probably left the dead raccoon in my blind, won't be bothering me on opening day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Meeting November 9th, 2015

On the agenda:
- Citizen Participation begins at 00:42
- Agenda Adjustments/Ad Hoc Committee Discussion begins at 14:33
- Technology Committee Report begins at 18:11
- Professional Learning Center And Professional Development Update begins at 25:33
- Personnel Report begins at 40:41
- Consent Agenda: Payment Of Bills, Budget Report, Minutes begins at 44:26
-Policy Committee Report begins at 45:15
- Finance Committee Report - Further Discussion of Finance Committee Recommendations And The Ad Hoc Committee begins at 45:51
- Board And Superintendent Comments begin at 1:12:00
© 2015 Carla Citizen All Rights Reserved.

I missed the last school board meeting on October 26th and it sounds like it was a "unpleasant" meeting.  When I read about the meeting in the October 28th issue of the Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald I was so upset that I was going to write a blog post about it.  I was so angry though that I decided it would be best to wait before writing anything.  I had attended the Finance Committee on October 21st where they discussed the problems facing the school district.  They have the current deficit problems, the added financial loss of over $600,000.00 due to student enrollment losses, the changes that will be coming when the Michigan State Treasury Dept takes over the monitoring of the schools in deficit. It was a depressing meeting because of the problems they discussed, but at the same time I heard a lot of good discussion and saw that they wanted to work to find a way to deal with these issues and to do so in a timely manner.  They knew they had to at least show the state that they were working on a plan to handle the deficit.
If they can't show the state that they are, then what will the consequences be?  More state control?  An Emergency Manager placed in control of the district?  If this district can't show that they are capable of handling this situation and the state starts making the decisions, those decisions will most likely not be pleasant.
So after almost two hours, the Finance Committee came up with some recommendations to look at.  One was to start taking bids on the possible outsourcing of jobs in several areas.  They needed to put this out for bid now so they had the time to review all the facts and figures.  If it wasn't going to provide a significant savings, then they would not go with outsourcing.  Two other options they wanted to start looking at was possibly closing Thomas White and negotiating with the union over the five percent wage concession.  The recommendation from the committee was not to just do this, but to look at these options now, get all the facts and figures, and have the time to make a decision.
I was shocked when I read that the full board voted this down at the October 26th meeting.  I thought "these people can't even make a simple decision", there's no hope!
If anyone would like to hear the discussion at the Finance Committee Meeting, you can view it on youtube or here on the blog.  There was no microphones set up for the meeting so the audio is very hard to hear.  You can use headphones and turn the volume all the way up.  If there are any doubts about what was discussed at the meeting, take the time and make a little effort to listen to it.

There is also another issue in Lansing that may impact the problems Bridgeport is facing.  That is how the state will deal with the $700 Million Deficit that the failed Detroit Public School System is facing.  The plan proposed by Gov. Snyder involves taking $50 per student away from every other school district in the state for the next 10 years.  So to try and save a school district that is probably beyond saving, he wants to make every other district in the state suffer.  That would probably mean a loss of around $70,000 to $80,000 per year for Bridgeport.  Here is the original news article about his plan -
Thankfully it looks like there is not a lot of support in Lansing for this plan, and there is going to be fighting over this plan.  But I don't have much faith in Lansing.  Didn't the voters say No to Emergency Managers?  They're still doing it.  Didn't the voters say No to the Bridge to Canada?  He is building it anyways.  Didn't the voters say No to more taxes for the roads?  They did it anyways.  If Snyder wants this plan, he will probably get it, one way or another.

Now onto last nights school board meeting.

There were three speakers during the citizen participation segment.  Please take the time and watch them!  I was not surprised, but was disappointed, by some of the comments made by Sue Rutherford.  She talked about some of the options that the MEA has presented to the board and district in the past to help save money, a lot of money, but it sounds like those suggestions were just blown off by the board.  And so here we sit.  Hopefully this board and district will listen to them this time.
UPDATE:  I found some information since I originally wrote this blog post about part of the proposal presented by the union to the school district and I talk a little about it in the comment section below.

I will say that I am encouraged that it looks like most of these board members are serious about taking action and want to work with all the members of the district and will listen to their ideas.
The Finance Committee Recommendations were back on last nights agenda and this time the board voted to approve it.
There was a lot of good discussion by everyone at last nights meeting.  There was a presentation by Ms. Silvey that I hope everyone will listen to.  The closing board member and superintendent comments were Very Good and I hope you take the time to listen to them.
They have set a Special Board Meeting for Monday December 7th.  It will be a full board meeting/workshop where the board members, administration, and the various employees groups etc.  will present ideas and work together to do what is necessary for the benefit of the district and the future of the children.