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  1. 7-3, or 8-4 with a 30 minute lunch and an off period...4 months paid vacation, 401K with matching, and free health insurance.... Its a good gig with great pay for the hours involved....PERIOD. If you extrapolate a teachers pay based on the 8 months worked its quite a bit more than a private sector job, and the skills/education/training are equal. Where do you get this information from? Matching 401K??? There is not a district on the face of Earth that I've ever seen of heard about that has anything that even closely resembles a 401K plan that matches anything (at least in Texas). If I am wrong,please correct me by submitting facts. Free health insurance? Do you have any idea how much teachers have to pay into health insurance to get minimal coverage? 30 minute lunch-yes that's true but how many "desk" jobs get 90 minute lunches on a regular basis? $40,000-$50,000 is a decent salary for a 9 month job. If the job was a 12 month job with hours similar to the corporate world, the job would need to pay at least $70,000-$80,000 easily just to compete. The main issues I see is that in Texas people just don't pay that much in taxes and when they are asked to pay slightly more ($300-$500 per year max if the exemption were to be removed) they cry. Remember, there is no state income taxes in Texas and the overall cost of living is a fraction of what it is in any other high profile state such as New York and California. So, with all due respect, please provide supporting facts in order to make your case valid.
  2. My wife and I ate at the Le Gourmet Bistro in Tomball this evening. This is a GREAT restaurant!!! It's located between Cherry and Commerce streets, right off of 2920 in downtown Tomball. I've been wishing to find a small, quaint restaurant that had the charm of a New England type of Inn feel (but also has the southern charm). The food and atmosphere are INCREDIBLE (the duck and lamb are out of this world). The owners are absolutely sweet and friendly-kinda makes you feel like you're eating in a living room of an old house. The website is: www.legourmetbistro.com Definitely a gem of a find!!!
  3. This concept, while somewhat compelling, still seems like a joke after having seen Virginia City, NV a few days ago.
  4. Yeah, I agree. I wonder how much of an impact that will actually make. I wonder how many kids we are actually talking about, especially considering how many major thoroughfares have to be crossed for kids to get to school in Cy-Fair ISD.
  5. Well this was bound to happen. I am glad the district had the courage to do something that will raise eyebrows. I am sure people will complain-possibly some of the same ones who said the district needed to be more budget-conscious. They've already cut out the unique compensation plan to pay teachers for professional development. This equates to a pay cut of between $250 and $450 a year starting next year. It's only fair to affect everyone. On a side note, while many districts await the decision about using stimulus money for pay raises, Katy ISD has released their 2009-2010 salary schedule which presumptively includes the stimulus money (they gave a 3% raise to all teachers). Either they know something others do not or they are willing to take the heat when they tell teachers they are NOT getting the raise that their website states.
  6. I just watched the infamous board meeting online again and have even more understanding of the situation. It isn't good. Texas is like a horrible nightmare I wish I could wake up from. Every cent that the state is supposedly giving to districts is coming from stimulus money that shouldn't even be given in the first place. Texas is taking its own money and saving it in the "rainy day fund". According to the district officials, money for the district, mainly including the mandated $800 raise, is being replenished by stimulus money. Stimulus money is for states to keep jobs. If states have money already (like Texas does) then the stimulus money is to be used to maintain employment and enhance special programs for special needs children and other initiatives that will improve performance (not exactly sure of the specifics). States must show that they are using the money properly. As it is, Dick Perry applied for this money the day of the deadline. To make it blunt, IT IS NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S JOB TO MAKE SURE SCHOOLS ARE FUNDED AND THAT TEACHERS GET RAISES!!! It is the state's responsibility to do that. The federal government only funds federal programs and Title I needs. I have no idea where the state government gets off thinking they can mandate something and turn around and say that all of the money it is required to provide will be coming from the federal government. I really wish this state would split from the nation already so that I can finally convince my wife that it's time to leave this stinkhole of a state.
  7. Not sure about that. But, in any case, I would like to answer or respond to some of your points. People not in education need to be careful not to make judgments and assumptions about something they know very little. (1) Schools are primarily funded by the states through taxes. We all know that. Being that Texas does not have a state income tax, there is less money to fund schools and Texas prides itself on saving money for a "rainy day". That is what has happened. That's not a bad thing, but money that was supposed to go to education did not. Such has been the case with lottery money that never went to education (despite what is said by the media about it). In Texas, workers take home a LOT more money than they do in most other states and Texas is the largest state to not have a state income tax. (2) What exactly is the unemployment rate in the Houston area? I do not know the figures but it is not as high as in other places (New York, California, etc.). I also do not hear about tremendous unemployment rates in the Cy-Fair area. If they were high, and I will try to find out what those rates are, then I'd be more understanding about people wanting to hold onto $125-$300 a year. Eventually, the optional homestead exemption WILL disappear so people may as well get used to it and budget accordingly. (3) People talk about wasted money and overspending in the district. I agree that there are WAY too many administrative positions, but that does not mean that people within schools should be bastardized. Supposedly, administrative costs are from a completely different budget. I'd have to see that to believe it. (4) Buildings in Cy-Fair only look extravagant. They are all (at least the schools) cookie cutter designs and there have been MILLIONS of dollars in short cuts made. Just walk into classrooms that comfortably fit 15-20 students but house 30-35 students all day. That's not to mention how much money is "saved" by building elementary schools without walls. The truth is, the only expensive aspect of schools are the outside design in the entry and those cost pennies to build compare to what is in the bond. Companies are just not building cheap box-like schools anymore because they themselves want more money also. I suppose that's only fair. PBK architects wanted to build a more sound and accommodating structure for the new high schools but Cy-Fair would only pay for a cheapened plan. Only through state law, for example, did they have to build larger science rooms in the past 4 years that were not fire hazards like 3 or 4 previously built schools currently have. All this said, I think we can all agree that if the district needs to cut budgets, it should NOT be cut in the classroom. That includes teachers, supplies, and of course students. Students will keep coming to school. Schools are paid for by taxes. When there are 100, 000 students in a district, money has to come from somewhere in order to pay for it. I'm all for people coming up with new inventive ways to fund public education without flushing it down the toilet altogether. If a company does not pay its employees and does not reward good work, its product will cheapen in quality. Employees will either leave immediately or put in much less effort until they do find employment elsewhere. The company can either charge more for their product and deliver quality (hopefully) or decrease the price and quality as well. If the product quality remains low, the company will eventually be bankrupt. Cy-Fair has spoken and has chosen to cheapen its product. Employees will leave and many others will simply refuse to put in the effort they once did. The results cannot be good until the pendulum begins to swing the other way. With the homestead exemption in place, it will not swing the other way.
  8. Well, it appears as though the district is first "targeting" teachers for their budget cuts. For the sake of taxpayers holding onto $125 a year, they have now: (1) gone two years without a raise (2) increased health insurance premiums for most teachers (3) actually CUT salaries by eliminating the compensation for professional development-that is between $250 and $450 for teachers It is astonishing that the district would turn around and, after not being able to give teachers a raise, actually PUNISHING teachers by essentially cutting their salaries. They are doing much more to teachers than they even suggested doing to taxpayers. Money does solve some things. In every profession in the world, you get quality if you pay for quality. There are no halos or angel's wings on teachers, police officers, nurses, firefighters, etc. People still have to make a living and while those professionals mentioned may not go into their line of work for the huge salaries, they certainly do expect to be treated as high level professionals. If you want skilled workers, you have to pay for them. That's the way the entire world works unless you happen to be living in a dictator nation. What is the point in putting effort into a job where you aim to serve the same community that refuses to support you. That's an easy reason to leave a job. And as far as the private school argument goes, those "private" schools wouldn't be very private if tax money could be used as tuition to them, would they? They too would quickly become overcrowded UNLESS they hike up tuition and open or close the doors to whoever they want. That would defeat the purpose of having private schools in the first place. People often argue that the private and corporate sector should be running schools, but what corporation in the private sector actually has any interest in schools and how much money does any corporation actually have to support schools with the resources that are actually needed.
  9. Apparently they are not as seen by the latest developments. The district is going after teachers first. How convenient. But to answer the question in an idealistic manner, the business world seeks profit for itself only. Education seeks to benefit society at large and its future. If a CEO of a company lays off employees, as unfair as it is, it benefits the CEO and hurts only the employee. With education, if teachers are affected or laid off, the kids required to receive an education are hurt. (just as laying off police officers, nurses, and firefighters also hurts society).
  10. Something else just occurred to me. If the state is supposedly giving out an $800 raise to teachers (which is about a 1.5% raise on average), then why couldn't the district say they'd drop the OHE by half, give a 1.5% raise to teachers, and cut ZERO jobs? You compromise with that deal. You keep half of the OHE for what adds up to $10 a month. You give teachers a small raise which, when added to the state's $800, would equal 3%, and you secure everyone's job. With that plan, you keep everyone somewhat happy AND you secure solvency for the district over the next 3-4 years barring weird circumstances. In addition, you have expressed to the state that you are willing to take sacrifices to prove that you truly do need more funding. THEN, if the "mandated" $800 does not go through (which it is likely not to), the state looks like the bad guy, not the district. Something fishy went on with the board of education in Cy-Fair. There were several more options that could have been examined but were not even considered which seems to mean there was manipulation to achieve a specific result. If only there were teacher unions.
  11. After watching it that second time, I would be willing to see teachers take either no raise again, or a minimal raise (2%) and see the OHE flushed away. It's a give-give situation that spells success in the future. You are right that boards and residents only see the here and now ramifications. 75 cuts this year means there will be cuts next year, so on and so forth. However, there is something to consider. On paper, it looks as though Klein and Tomball are doing very very well. Katy is not doing quite as well because their tax rate is HUGE. New developments in Tomball have slowed down tremendously. Scratch that-they've stopped. I live in Village Creek and we are fortunate to have been built out before the recession. The edge of Northpointe close to Canyon Point Elementary (not sure the names of the developments) have haulted construction. Tomball has never opened a new high school since its birth. They may not be looking ahead to what the costs of operation will be for the new school. Granted, the school is critically needed, the revenue from new residents may not be there to support it. The same lack of foresight that has caused businesses around the nation to go belly up are causing ALL districts to start the same trend. The problem is, school districts are not businesses and are not profit based. That's why it's ridiculous for people in the business sector to say that schools should be run like the business world. Tax payers do not fund the business world. They SELL products. Schools HAVE to run because kids have to go to school. New, innovative ways to fund schools must be sought. What about adverstising? Seriously-that's how TV and radio stations are funded. You sell advertising slots to companies with targeted audiences. Teachers can stop lessons for a "quick word from our sponsor". Sound silly? Some areas are starting to incorporate advertising on buses. Bad times call for creative ideas. Sadly, very few in school systems have creative minds. Those that do are generally the teachers. Of course, who is going to listen to a bunch of bumbling teachers. After all, they are the demons of society, public enemies #1 and the reason for all or most of society's problems, eh?
  12. Does anyone know if being insolvent for a certain number of years results in Chapter 11? I watched the board meeting in its entirety. I understood things much better the second time around. The board had NO choice given the options, to offer no raise to teachers. This is MUCH bigger than teacher raises since all options meant job losses. Option 1: reduce the OHE by 10%, cut about 130 jobs, give a 3% raise to teachers Option 2: keep the OHE intact, cut about 130 jobs, give a 2% raise, and have a tax rise election (would never pass) Option 3: keep the OHE intact, offer no raise, cut 75 jobs. Of course the logical thing to do would be to keep as many jobs as possible. Here's the problem though. During the first week of June, a live a address was given by Dr. Anthony. In it, he stated that the best option was to eliminate the OHE, give teachers a 3% raise, and cut NO jobs. Somehow, between June 4 and June 26, Option 1 changed dramatically. Suddenly, dropping the entire OHE was no longer a choice. Also, cutting the OHE by 10% and giving teachers a smaller raise of 2% was not an option. This was clearly a tactic retain the entire OHE and not have any tax increase. Option 3, which had been the worst option, suddenly became the best by far. It was also stated that next year, more jobs would have to be cut and teachers will likely not receive a raise for about 3 years unless: (1) the OHE is dropped next year (still won't happen of course) (2) the state changes its funding for Cy-Fair (definitely will not happen) This brings me back to my original question. If jobs are cut every year just to make payroll, then it would seem that it's a matter of time before the district goes into Chapter 11. If this does occur (within 3 years perhaps?) the state would immediately take over. It is my understanding the the commissioner would either appoint a new board or the SBOE would become the district's controlling board. Finances would become completely restructured (the district office personnel would be reconfigured and MAJOR cuts would be made at that level), and this ghost board would immediately move to eliminate ALL of the OHE as soon as they are legally able to do so. As much as people hate government taking over things, this may be the best for the district. So much for the thought that cutting taxes improves business and results in higher quality of services.
  13. It's true, Mr. Football, that only 20 out of the about 1200 school districts in Texas have the exemption. Last week I posted incorrectly that CFISD was the only district in the region with the optional HE. I was wrong-Houston has one. I believe SB has one also, but I am not sure if these districts have the 20%. Tomball, Spring, and Klein do not and are upset that CFISD is able to keep theirs in such times of "distress" (and be helped, albeit barely, by the state). These districts should be upset-they should be very upset. My wife and I live in Tomball. We bought our home the day the foundation was laid. We were first time homeowners so, while we were explained everything, we didn't have a complete grasp over what happens when you buy a new home. Therefore, we were shocked when our monthly mortgage went up $300 after the first year (from unimproved to improved land). It was a learning curve to which we adjusted. Now, sometimes we have a shortage in our ESCROW and sometimes we have an overage. This is all with no additional homestead exemption and one of the higher tax rates around. However, we are happy with where we live. We understand that some of this year's increase resulted from a massive bond that was passed in TISD. We are happy to pay for what is rightfully important. When I first heard that CFISD was going to eliminate the optional homestead exemption, I thought that 20% would equate to $200 to $300 more per month for homeowners. Then I realized that it was $30 to $35 per month. That seems like a GREAT bargain to ensure that the district in which you live remains competitive with high standards and is able to provide a more sound instructional program. Unfortunately, the members of the board, who represent the students first and foremost, do not agree. And, as I said, even more unfortunate is the fact that money is not going to suddenly appear next year, the year after, or the year after that. But I suppose you get what you pay for in the long run. So, the residents of CFISD will get what they pay for. They agreed to pay for additional buildings but do not agree to pay for quality instruction, programs, or resources within them.
  14. Look, we can make accusations and be sarcastic all we want. The bottom line is that this is not a fix or any attempt to solve the situation. Instead of coming up with a solution that will perpetuate over the long haul, the problem was swept under the rug. It is being reported that 75 positions will need to be cut. The number will be closer to 150 to 200 or more. Last year it was 400-450 positions. Sadly, MORE administrative positions were added (like science coaching teachers-not even sure what that means, especially considering that most hired to that position were under 30 years old-and there were at least 20 people pulled from the classroom for that position). This isn't about people getting into a profession knowing this would happen. Tell that to people at GM or Chrystler. It also isn't about anything that has already been voted on through bond elections. This is about the fact that the severe problems will continue or get worse. You can only make cuts for so long before you have to shut things down completely. I am not saying the district will cease to exist, but the "sacrifices" that will have to be made year after year will cause the school system to look very different than it does now. What amazed me is how poorly defended this exemption was last night. The people who spoke against the elimination seemed to either not have a clue about how anything worked or were so frantic in their speech that it came across almost comical. Yet NOBODY on either side talked about the ramifications for the future. I wonder where people think money will come from. Making cuts year after year won't create magical money. The exemption will have to be eliminated eventually and the area is doing FAR better than most areas in the country. (claiming bad economic times is not an excuse) Klein, Tomball, and Spring ISD must be laughing hysterically at all of this since they don't have an exemption and never will.
  15. It's over. The board voted 6-1 for keeping the exemption, nixing any type of teacher raise, and digging into deep budget cuts. I don't think that anyone except maybe Dan Patrick and Dr. Anthony have any idea what will happen after next year. If the board keeps the exemption now, it will keep it forever. Insolvency is a precursor to bankruptcy. Frozen salaries for several years is a precursor to not being able to make payroll. The only way to avoid those two is to make deeper and deeper cuts every year. School closures, doubling up on bus routes, and 35-40 students in a class or more will result heavily at the secondary level (elementary schools are bound to state minimum laws). It's going to be interesting.
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