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School District addresses legislative goals

By Staff | Aug 9, 2011

By MEGHAN McCOY

mmccoy@breezenewspapers.com

The Lee County School Board discussed its 2012 legislative issues during a briefing meeting Tuesday afternoon with its legislative consultant.

Board member Jeanne Dozier said she does not want any more cuts to public education.

“That is not acceptable,” she said, adding that education is the biggest target in Florida when budget cuts are made.

Dozier said they have to put faces on the people who are being affected – parents and children – to reach the legislators.

Bob Cerra, the consultant, told the board that based on suggestions from staff he would recommend bringing back language that was stricken from the teacher performance pay and teacher evaluation systems from the first two bullet points originally presented.

The first bullet stated to “fund 100 percent of the costs associated with establishing new valid and reliable testing programs in every subject not covered by a state accountability tests and new teacher evaluation systems.”

The other bullet said to “allow local control to create performance pay schedules to meet local needs, promote fairness among all instructional personnel, and allow buy in from all local stakeholders.”

“I realize why this is very important and critical in some way,” Dozier said. “I think we are saying absolutely no cuts. We cannot put the state’s budget on the back of the district’s employees.”

Dozier said that the district’s employees took a 3 percent cut, which is not going to happen anymore.

“We are saying no cuts … no more,” she said, adding that their pay scale is already too low. “Absolutely no cuts, it will not be acceptable.”

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke also addressed the issue of recruitment efforts the district is faced with when bringing in new employees into the system. He said employees are now looking at a significant change in how their retirements will be calculated.

Their retirements, Burke said, is calculated with their highest eight years, instead of five years.

“It puts us in a negative competitive situation in terms of recruiting staff,” he said.

Board member Jane Kuckel said they are using the retirement fund to balance the rest of the state’s budget.

“We are not in jeopardy as a standalone,” she said, asking “Why are they tapping into a fund that is already working to fund other parts of the budget?”

Kuckel said it is unacceptable, especially when the teachers took a 3 percent cut for next year.

“I think it needs to be clearly stated that our fund is not the issue,” she said. “The issue is the rest of the budget that we are required to make up for.”

Cerra said the capital outlay needs also addressed involved some language changes before it will be presented at a legislative platform.

The language reads to “maintain school impact fees, reinstate local capital outlay funding for the purposes that they were collected, and re-established an appropriate share of state PECO dollars for non-charter public schools.”

Charter school administrative costs are another issue the board wants to address during the upcoming legislative platform.

Cerra said the charter school cost is a state-wide issue that affects Lee County.

“In a district like Lee County where we have more than 9 percent of students in charter schools, it is a local issue and a high priority for us,” he said

The charter school administrative costs address such points as “delivering legislatively mandated services to high-quality charter schools is equally as expensive for the district as delivering mandated services to other charter schools.”

Kuckel offered a suggestion when delivering their legislative platform. She said they should add some rationales with their recommendations.

“It seems like without that rational our legislators will look at this with ‘what difference does this make?'” she said.

Kuckel said they should add some citations to their issues, so the legislature has something with which to refer. She said when you have well-stated and well-researched items in writing, they stand out more.

Cerra said he will add back the items in the teacher performance pay, along with the corrections to the capital outlay section.

“We will add some additional language about our justifications and research,” he said.

School District addresses legislative goals

By Staff | Aug 9, 2011

By MEGHAN McCOY

mmccoy@breezenewspapers.com

The Lee County School Board discussed its 2012 legislative issues during a briefing meeting Tuesday afternoon with its legislative consultant.

Board member Jeanne Dozier said she does not want any more cuts to public education.

“That is not acceptable,” she said, adding that education is the biggest target in Florida when budget cuts are made.

Dozier said they have to put faces on the people who are being affected – parents and children – to reach the legislators.

Bob Cerra, the consultant, told the board that based on suggestions from staff he would recommend bringing back language that was stricken from the teacher performance pay and teacher evaluation systems from the first two bullet points originally presented.

The first bullet stated to “fund 100 percent of the costs associated with establishing new valid and reliable testing programs in every subject not covered by a state accountability tests and new teacher evaluation systems.”

The other bullet said to “allow local control to create performance pay schedules to meet local needs, promote fairness among all instructional personnel, and allow buy in from all local stakeholders.”

“I realize why this is very important and critical in some way,” Dozier said. “I think we are saying absolutely no cuts. We cannot put the state’s budget on the back of the district’s employees.”

Dozier said that the district’s employees took a 3 percent cut, which is not going to happen anymore.

“We are saying no cuts … no more,” she said, adding that their pay scale is already too low. “Absolutely no cuts, it will not be acceptable.”

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke also addressed the issue of recruitment efforts the district is faced with when bringing in new employees into the system. He said employees are now looking at a significant change in how their retirements will be calculated.

Their retirements, Burke said, is calculated with their highest eight years, instead of five years.

“It puts us in a negative competitive situation in terms of recruiting staff,” he said.

Board member Jane Kuckel said they are using the retirement fund to balance the rest of the state’s budget.

“We are not in jeopardy as a standalone,” she said, asking “Why are they tapping into a fund that is already working to fund other parts of the budget?”

Kuckel said it is unacceptable, especially when the teachers took a 3 percent cut for next year.

“I think it needs to be clearly stated that our fund is not the issue,” she said. “The issue is the rest of the budget that we are required to make up for.”

Cerra said the capital outlay needs also addressed involved some language changes before it will be presented at a legislative platform.

The language reads to “maintain school impact fees, reinstate local capital outlay funding for the purposes that they were collected, and re-established an appropriate share of state PECO dollars for non-charter public schools.”

Charter school administrative costs are another issue the board wants to address during the upcoming legislative platform.

Cerra said the charter school cost is a state-wide issue that affects Lee County.

“In a district like Lee County where we have more than 9 percent of students in charter schools, it is a local issue and a high priority for us,” he said

The charter school administrative costs address such points as “delivering legislatively mandated services to high-quality charter schools is equally as expensive for the district as delivering mandated services to other charter schools.”

Kuckel offered a suggestion when delivering their legislative platform. She said they should add some rationales with their recommendations.

“It seems like without that rational our legislators will look at this with ‘what difference does this make?'” she said.

Kuckel said they should add some citations to their issues, so the legislature has something with which to refer. She said when you have well-stated and well-researched items in writing, they stand out more.

Cerra said he will add back the items in the teacher performance pay, along with the corrections to the capital outlay section.

“We will add some additional language about our justifications and research,” he said.