March 4, 2009

Bristol's schools too successful?

Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this story:

After years of hard work, struggling to improve the city’s schools, the effort paid off – and resulted in a huge cut in state funding.
Superintendent Phil Streifer said Tuesday that he recently learned from state officials that Bristol is no longer considered a “priority” school district.
“Our achievement is so high they’re taking away our priority school district status,” said Streifer. 
That’s great news as far as academic improvement, but the loss of the special designation means that the city will also lose almost $2 million annually in extra funding that goes along with it.
The hit won’t come all at once, but the bulk of it is coming in the next budget, when Streifer is already searching for how to cope with reductions in the regular state aid.
The three-year phase out of priority school district funding starts with a loss of more than $1 million in the coming year, Streifer said. By the third year, the loss will reach $1.7 million.
Streifer said he’s not sure how he can maintain the higher test scores without the funding that’s supported them. He said the percentage of children living in poverty is up, as is the number of students who are moving in and out of the district.
But that’s a problem for another day. At 7 tonight, the superintendent presents his budget to the school board for approval. 
Because his budget has been in the works for awhile and the news about the city’s priority school district status just arrived, it’s not even figured into the budget yet, Streifer said.
Not counting a $1.28 million increase in special education costs, Streifer said, he’d be at a 2.4 percent increase.
“We’ve really held the line,” Streifer said.
As it is, the increase is 3.69 percent, he said, or $3.7 million.
“I’m asking the board of education to approve my budget, which funds all programs,” said Streifer. “They’re voting on a full budget.”
But if enough state and city funding doesn’t materialize, Streifer said, the district will turn to his recommended cuts, which will reduce the numbers of teachers, increase class size and eliminate some programming.
“People are concerned,” said Don Currie, president of the Performance Arts Booster Club at Bristol Central High School. He said he’s worried that music will take a bigger cut than other programs.
If cuts are to be made, Currie said, the district should be fair.
“They should be even across the board,” said Currie.
Kathy Brodeur, co-president of the Parent Action Committee at Chippens Hill Middle School, said she and other parents are worried about enrichment programs losing funding and about increased class sizes.
“We’re taking more and more away from our kids,” said Brodeur, who said she’s afraid that her middle school daughter will not have the same choices of courses as her high school daughter had.
In the long run, Brodeur said, any change in the school district will be reflected in the housing market, which she said will impact all homeowners, not just those with kids in school.
Federal stimulus money, if it comes to the district, may be “very restrictive,” said Streifer. He said it’s too early to know how much might come to Bristol or how it could be used.
The possible program cuts, said Streifer, are “still real.”
He said whether those will need to be implemented won’t be clear until April or May – after the city budget is set.
Bristol school board members present the school budget to the city finance board on March 18, said Streifer.
That’s when Streifer hopes to see parental support for school programs.
“I want them there on March 18,” Streifer said.

*******
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

27 comments:

john reek said...

Steve, how and who ranks your blog?

Steve Collins said...

John, you mean that blognetnews box on the right column? That's just one blog ranking. Truthfully, I have no idea how they figure it or how many others do the same sort of thing. I just thought it was cool to be ranked so high by something!

Anonymous said...

unfunded mandates from the state and federal level are killing local communities. Add the program and then they yank out the funding for it in a few years.

Anonymous said...

does anyone plan to go to the BOE Board of Finance meeting tonight @ 6pm to hear about the proposed budget and their voting on it?

Steve Collins said...

I'll be there, of course.

Anonymous said...

I love how the school board never gives numbers about how much classes will increase and how many programs will be cut with a worst case scenario...Or even how many programs could and can be cut right now - do to low student turn-out or programs that have been barley used in a long time. I am all for education, but at times it seems like we are throwing hard earned tax money to nothing.

Bil Stortz said...

We lose some state funding, but how much to we stand to gain by being a more attractive community, thereby encouraging more building and by encouraging and attracting people who value education and are willing to pay for it!

Tim Gamache said...

Nice "catch 22." Improve the schools academic scores and receive a reduction in state funding.Makes one wonder,yes?IF it proves necessary to eliminate some programs(sincerely hope it doesn't come to that),I would hope the BOE does a good job of recognizing those programs that teach our children how to be good,proactive citizens,such as Kids in the Middle,and keep those in place while eliminating those that may no longer serve their intended purpose or simply have proven to not work.

Anonymous said...

I say stop the testing and save all that money and go back to teaching as usual. The money was given to improve, we know how to do it now so let's do it, and brag how good our schools are.
If Bristol stopped the testing many other towns would follow and use the testing money to educate the students. A good teacher will tell you if the kids are learning, you don't need a State exam to do it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mayor Ward for improving out schools!

Anonymous said...

good teacher will tell you if the kids are learning,

```````````````````````````

unfortunately we have very few of them , and no recourse but to keep paying the lousy ones that are bleeding the community dry .

Anonymous said...

Streifer is overrated and underproductive. Fire this guy before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

6:05

You gotta be kidding!!!

Anonymous said...

Gamache, too bad they didn't have more special ed. classes when you were in school, huh?

Anonymous said...

Boo Hoo. Can't feed at the teat of the State and Federal govts. So the citizens of Bristol will have to pay for their own services. Welcome to world of suburban education.

Maybe ESPN can expand once more to increase your tax base.If not the citizens of Bristol will have to cover the tab of their excess.

Tim Gamache said...

4:58p I agree.I am aqainted with many teachers and all of them have told me they feel too much time during the school day is dedicated to "passing tests" and would prefer to spend more time teaching the students the subject matter that will prepare them for college and/or their adulthood.This is a by product of the unfunded mandate,"No Child Left Behind",yes?

Odin said...

"The money was given to improve, we know how to do it now so let's do it"

You're right: we've figured out how to do it, and "doing it" costs money. These kids' problems originate at home, and it costs money to overcome that. Wake up to the fact that there is poverty in Bristol.

Anonymous said...

10:58

Clearly you have not been folowing the education process.
Testing is not new, testing is not unique to Bush.
It is a way to determine reults, it is a form of accountability (a favorite Obama word). We still haven't gotten to the point where we link results, performance and follow up.
But that will come.

By the way, after May 17, 2010, we cannot blame Bush for everything. That will become law.

Tim Gamache said...

1:27p I believe you misinterpreted my post. It was not intended to have any political overtones.It was simply an opinion on how the Mastery Tests have become more of a focus within the ciriculum than before.Believe me I've been around MORE than long enough to be aware that testing has been a means of evaluating our students.If you speak to the teachers themselves I believe they will confirm what I said earlier as to the preparation of our student population.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tim, het it right. The progam isn't "No Child Left Behind"...it's "No Union Left Behind"!! Sad reality

Anonymous said...

Tim,

I am sure that many teachers are not big fans of the testing process, but tell me, were you ecstatic with all the BS during boot camp and later on in the service?

As you moved up, did you not see some of the value and rationale in what you griped about earlier?

Tim Gamache said...

Forgive my ignorance,but I don't get your point.

Anonymous said...

Not surprising.

Point is that sometimes the grunts don't get the value of an activity until they get some experience, some time in grade.

Also, it makes more work for them, which they would rather avoid.

Tim Gamache said...

Apparently you are either unwilling and/or unable to have this discussion in a civil manner.

Anonymous said...

No Tim, you are just bothered by anyone who disagrees with you!

Tim Gamache said...

Thanks for making it so obvious you don't know me at all.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

I thought EVERYBODY knows you.