Tuesday, February 09, 2010

BOE vs Commissioners - Budget FACTS

  • On April 22, 2009, at Mr. Cooper’s and the Commissioners' request, the Board of Education was required to sign a “settlement agreement” which agreed to the terms and conditions of funding the BOE 2010 operating budget effective July 1, 2009. Included in that request was a commitment statement that the County would “meet its Maintenance of Effort Obligation” for 2010 and rescind their MOE waiver request.

  • During this same timeframe, Mr. Richmond was called over to a meeting with the Commissioners where he was asked to sign a separate confidential agreement indicating that he would not XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Mr. Richmond refused and indicated to them that it would be illegal to do so and a violation of collective bargaining. Mr. Richmond, Mr. Balides, all five commissioners and the County Administrator were present at this meeting.

  • On September 09, 2009 the county administrator announced across the board cuts totaling $8-10 million based on anticipated future cuts from the state. Of that amount the County requested that the BOE cut 2% or $2.9 million. "I am proposing these reductions so that we are able to sustain future anticipated state cuts, sustaining a loss of revenue due to the economic recession and to prevent additional cuts throughout the year," said County Administrator Rebecca B. Bridgett in an article in the Maryland Independent.

  • On September 10, 2009 Mr. Cooper met with Mr. Richmond, Col. Wade, Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Balides at Hawthorn Country Club, to discuss the County’s budget problems. Mr. Richmond and Col. Wade reminded Mr. Cooper that we could not (and would not) violate the maintenance of effort law by returning funds below the maintenance of effort level. If the county government wanted to violate the law, that was its option. It was at this meeting that Mr. Richmond also told Mr. Cooper that the teachers' contract required us to open negotiations for salaries in January, and that we hoped to have saved enough money to make good on the contract. Mr. Cooper stated “that would be great.”

  • On September 18, 2009 the County identified $934,000 in BOE funding cuts which would not violate the maintenance of effort laws.

  • On October 23, 2009 the County Commissioners sent over a letter indicating that they were reversing a longstanding agreement which allowed the Board of Education to transfer funds between categories as long as it did not require additional funding from the County.

  • In a meeting on November 3, 2009 between Mr. Cooper, Ms. Patterson, Col. Wade, Ms. Wise, Mr. Richmond, and Mr. Balides, Mr. Cooper indicated that the intent of the letter was to prevent the BOE from using fund balance so that could revert back to the County at year end. Once again Mr. Richmond, Mr. Balides and others reiterated the maintenance of effort law and emphasized (provide Mr. Cooper and Ms. Patterson with documentation) of prior attorney generals legal opinions that any fund balance that a school system generates does not relieve a county from its maintenance of effort obligations.

  • On November 18, 2009 Gov. O’Malley announced a second round of cuts which did not include cuts to local County governments. Interestingly enough, the County still implemented the cuts from its earlier $10 million estimate, including staff furloughs.

  • January 12, 2010, the BOE approves funding step and scale increases (no COLA) through internally generated savings. The MSEA teacher’s representative indicated to Mr. Balides and Mr. Hettel that she had had several conversations in the past with Mr. Cooper and he was supportive of providing teachers their scale increase.


LegalBeaglette said...

Mr. Richmond, Mr. Balides and others…waved prior Attorney General Opinions under the noses of the county commissioners? Wow. I’m so not impressed…because the school system readily ignores such Opinions when it suits it, and because such Opinions are neither statutory nor consequential.

The “maintenance of effort” law is complicated and untested in times of significant economic downturn. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties – both the school systems and the county governments – are realizing that, and there are several efforts being made to clarify and/or change the law.

Anonymous said...

What goes around comes around. Attorney General Opinions... gee, I thought Richmond just filed those in the circular file. Wouldn't surprise me one bit if Cooper is the one stuffing the circular file now.

Richmond needs to get a grip!!! Times are tight, people are LOSING jobs and forgoing ALL raises. Pay CUTS are the norm. This school system continues to break the bank and we taxpayers are paying the price. We are nothing more than the EACC's and Lord Richmond's serfs.

Of course CCPS was able to "save" money internally. They had a ton of hidden pork in it from the beginning. The commissioners giveth the pork and now the oompa loompas want to take it back. A real Keystone Cops group we voted in! I can't wait till November!!

Secret contracts.... like Central Office hasn't initiated their fair share of those over the years? ROFLMBO!!! Let's not forget, Cooper cut his political teeth over on Radio Station Road, under the tutelage of Richmond.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, you were required to open the contract to DISCUSS step and scale changes. I don't think you were legally bound to GIVE an increase. Therefore this whole "saving to fulfill the contract" is hogwash. There was nothing in the contract that said you owed them a raise. You only owed them a discussion. And the discussion is essentially free.

Zero is a percentage, as is negative 1.5% which is the "raise" many workers are dealing with right now. But that would never happen at the BOE because your chief negotiator's wife and son are beneficiaries of the EACC contract, as is the husband of the BOE's chair and indirectly the chair herself via her retirement package. Can anyone spell conflict of interest over at Radio Station Road?

It's not surprising pork was incorporated into the initial budget. It made it easier to "find" money for raises later. The commissioners saw through this farce and appropriately (and legally) yanked the automatic intercategory budget transfers.

As for Cooper, who cares what he says on a day to day basis. He is a politician and his stance on any particular issue is audience specific.

Anonymous said...

As is common, these comments stem from a misunderstanding of the teachers contract and compensation system. There was no raise. At the beginning of this school year (August of 09) returning teachers were not advanced a step on the salary scale. Teachers advance one step per school year, based on their experience. Not every "step" is an increase in pay. Due to what is called "scale compression" there are now only 20 pay levels as opposed to the 30 (one per year) that used to exist. The chart is easily available on the CCBOE web site. For example teachers with 5, 6, and 7 years of experience are all on pay level 5. What the BOE did (rightly) was follow their contractual obligation to move teachers to the appropriate step on the scale based on years of experience. The dollar amounts of the scale did not increase and their was no cost of living increase. What has not been widely reported is that there has been an increase in health premiums (depending on plan), union dues, and other items that come directly from the paycheck which did in fact result in a net decrease in take home pay for most teachers.