January 30, 2009

Hints of Streifer's education budget ideas

In making the pitch to bond rating analysts this week, city officials gathered all the information they could about this year's proposed spending plan.
Among the information was a preliminary plan from school Superintendent Philip Streifer about how he might cope with the possibility of a big cut in state aid to education.
Several officials said that Streifer has prepared three plans - A, B and C.
One deals with the most optimistic scenario, which isn't all that cheerful given the bleak budget situation in Hartford. The other two address more dire options.
But what is he thinking about?
We'll know next week when he tells the Board of Education. He also plans to speak to the Joint Board on Feb. 11 to lay it all out to city councilors and the Board of Finance.
There is a hint, though, in the notes prepared for the discussions with bond analysts.
On a page devoted to the budget, there is a line about support for the schools.
Beside it, in red ink, are these words: "Furloughs, shortened yr. Incentive packages."
I'm pretty sure those were written by city Comptroller Glenn Klocko, who spoke to Streifer shortly before the telephone conference calls about the city's bond rating.
Now they may mean nothing at all. But it sure looks like they touch upon some possibilities.
I've heard repeatedly that every day the schools are closed rather than open, the city saves more than $300,000. It doesn't take many fewer days to make a big, big difference.
The incentive packages could well refer to an early retirement program that might reduce salaries by turning to cheaper newcomers rather than old pros in the classroom.
I'm not sure how furloughs fit in the picture, but we certainly see companies in town taking that step to save some money. The schools could perhaps follow suit.
We'll find out next week if that's the way things are heading.
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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's the way to dig it out. I commend you.

Anonymous said...

The word in teacher's union circles is that one of Bristol's plans involves terminating the contracts of all untenured teachers and then only hiring back a select few. This would allow them to get around seniority issues. Most Bristol teachers I've talked to expect a bloodbath.

Anonymous said...

Was there any indication he might take a pay cut?

Anonymous said...

Streifer brings much needed energy to the job ??? why doe's he need a assistant?Steve as a concerned parent I appreciate his willigness to circle the wagons,kids are very fortunate.

Art Costa, BFT President said...

3:38, That's not my word. You can bet school workers are concerned, worried…just like a lot of workers all across this country. It’s likely to be months before anyone can speak with certainty about sustainable staffing levels for the coming year.

I understand that you are passing along what you’ve heard, but your suggestion that management is out to “get around seniority issues” misrepresents the BOE’s posture, as I see it. You have a few pieces of the puzzle, but you don’t have a picture yet. (That’s not intended as a slight; you’re working with what you’ve heard.)

In fact, Bristol Federation of Teachers and the BOE have contract provisions that set out specific procedures to govern layoffs, and I’m confident that teachers facing either layoff or contract non-renewal due to budgetary reasons will be afforded appropriate recall rights.

Yes, the schools are in for a protracted period of uncertainty. I'm sure that the details announced this week will trouble many people; but these contingencies, though necessary to have in place, are not inevitabilities.

The union remains committed to working with the BOE and exploring reasonable actions to mitigate harm done by the current economic downturn. We're doing what we can; the waiting is the toughest part.

Anonymous said...

Will BFT take pay cuts? That would help immensely. They could keep their jobs and we who don't have jobs could possibly keep our homes.

Anonymous said...

Maybe upper management should forgo their raises? Maybe principals give up a few perks?

Anonymous said...

It is very important to make sure that any teacher cut is for the right reasons. Teachers should be the last to go because they directly impact the student. Non-renewing all non-tenure teachers because of budget problems seems to be extreme and puts the weight of the budget crisis on the backs of the teachers, and who suffers the most---- The students. Is this really what is best for our students in Bristol? And what about the rest of the year- how will this these poor teachers be able to function wondering if they are going to get called back next year or not?
I read that another town- The Board has asked for anyone to come to the table with ideas. They are using the resources of the entire town to help solve the education budget. I don't remember that kind of forum here. I have read that the superintendent is going to take a pay freeze in Southington and other towns are offering early retirement packages. I don't believe that we have exhausted all possible ideas. If all non-tenured teachers get non-renewed it will truly change the Bristol Public Schools and the positive image that we have earned in the State.

Anonymous said...

Teachers are not aware of or just don't care what kind of financial hardships that many of us are dealing with. They certainly don't think about us or our kids when it's contract time. I miss the days when teachers cared about kids and the BOE represented taxpayers.