Thursday, June 12, 2014

Budget impact statement from Dr. Hill

Parents of students in Charles County Public Schools received the following message via phone and email yesterday. [Wednesday, June 11, 2014]:

"Hello, this is Kim Hill, Superintendent of Charles County Public Schools. I’d like to bring you up to date on important budget information that may impact your child’s education.

Last night, in a three to two vote, the Charles County Commissioners approved a budget that does not adequately fund the needs of our students or the opening of our new high school. The Commissioners promised to provide $10 million when we were ready to open the new high school. Instead, they voted to provide us with $2.9 million.

This lack of funding forces us to consider cuts to programs that may impact your child. It also means we will be able to hire fewer teachers, which means class sizes will increase.

Quality education requires adequate funding. By underfunding the school budget, the Commissioners will force the Board of Education to make spending cuts at a time when the costs of education are rising.

Adequate funding is the only way to keep Charles County Public Schools competitive. It’s my responsibility to advocate for the needs of our schools and your children, but I need your help. Please contact your County Commissioners and ask them to reconsider their budget decision.

Thank you for your support of Charles County Public Schools."


Anonymous said...

As a tax payer, citizen of Charles County, and someone attached to the public schools in many ways, I want to voice an opinion. Unfortunately I must do it anonymously while teacher hiring and transfers are still in progress.

I just watched the commissioners budget work session and budget adoption followed by the Board of Education (BOE) meeting and am amazed at the ill informed response by the BOE. This paired with the irresponsible budget proposed by Mrs. Kelly which, to me, looks more like a political speech to be included in her campaign for delegate.

It appears to me that the BOE tuned in to the budget adoption at the very end. They only heard the last little bit, much like a kid who reads the last 5 pages of a book and then does his book report. Teachers notice when this happens, and I notice that you all essentially "got lazy" like a high school senior about to graduate because you didn't want to do the research and work to understand the whole picture. Mrs. Hill, then went on to send her principals on a rampage to spread political propaganda to the CCPS staff, followed by the use of the schools text and robo-call system to spread this further to the parents. Makes me wonder if there is a kickback in it somewhere for supporting a politician. Please note for the future that when misinformation is spread, you are asking to be questioned.

What I observed in the two simultaneous board meetings starts with the commissioners budget work session where the county administrator and the budget people explained that the commitment to fund St. Charles High School is in fact happening. If the school only opens with 3 grades, why would you need funding for a 4? And, it sounded like the balance of your requested budget for next year can come from a fund balance that isn't the BOE's money in the first place. Every other county funded department in Charles County gives back their surplus, but the BOE gets to keep it. That is tax payer money to be used as the elected officials of the board of commissioners sees fit. Looks to me that they see it fit to use some of that money for FY15 only. Then when you have 4 grades, they build it into the annual budget starting in FY16.

Moving on to 6:30 that evening I watched as the BOE tuned into the budget adoption just in time to hear a speech from Mrs. Kelly about how they could have given raises, but didn't. All this did was fire up Mrs. Wise who decided to make misinformed comments on the whole matter because she only read the last 5 pages of the book before presenting her book report.

To the BOE, everyone needs to get it together and stop playing games. Work together, and be realistic about everything that is going on in the county and the schools. Don't twist information and misinform teachers and parents who have too much going on at work and with their kids to sit down and watch budget work sessions like I did. You operate an educational institution, at least make a point to be educated before you react.

If any of the commissioners read this, remember your role. This is local government not national politics. For a few more months, until there is a new board, remember that you serve Charles County, not your own political career. The responsible decision was made this year and I commend you all for that. Maybe that's why Ms. Kelly made such a show out of it, maybe even she knew that her budget wouldn't be adopted and that it was a great opportunity for her to get some positive TV airtime supporting teachers while running for delegate. I don't know, but you all did a great job of firing up the school system in the process.

To anyone else who reads this, please keep in mind that there are many sides to every story. When there is something that effects your property, your children, or your income, make sure you push back and ask for clear explanations. Don't follow blindly, there are obviously people looking to just herd you into their flock for votes.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Can someone post the actual breakdown of these numbers. 2.8 instead of 10 million seems off. I thought it was 7.7 next year and 10 million there after.

Jennifer Abell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer Abell said...

Sorry, realized the link in my above comment showed up incorrectly.
Anonymous #1 - I'm sorry you perceived the Board of Education as "lazy" but that is far from the truth. As you stated, we had a board meeting going on at the same time as the commissioners meeting with our own public forum occurring at 6:00 p.m. and then our action items followed. After this time we did tune in to the commissioners meeting, but prior to that we had staff keeping us aprised of the situation.
I will attempt to address each of your concerns.

The funding of St. Charles High School is in fact NOT happening at the promised level $10M, or the later agreed upon level of $7.7M. You can view my breakdown in this post,
The school was always going to open with 3 grades and the cost of three grades is $10M. That's why it goes up for FY15.
Our fund balance is a combination of state and county money. We have to answer to the state for some of it and the county cannot dictate ALL of it. It has always been an agreement for us to keep our fund balance for emergencies for the sheer number of buildings we have to constantly maintain. This allows for us to simply ask for category transfers throughout the year if say an air handler goes, etc. We don't have to ask for extra money mid year.
As for your assumptions, i suggest you take a look at my other post, along with my supporting documentation and you will see there is no misinformation being spread. We HAVE done our homework. WE are not the ones twisting information.
I would also suggest YOU do your homework. Read the entire book prior to watching a video about the book and making assumptions.
At least when you have a chance to engage the authors, ask pointed questions instead of throwing poorly placed accusations.

Anonymous said...

Today I had the opportunity to attend a “rally” at the Charles County Elections Building that was being held by the NAACP. During that rally, William Braxton accused Superintendent Kim Hall of being unethical and that her actions posed a conflict of interest. “ Her position gives her access to private info regarding students and parents. The robo call gave her the vehicle to access these avenues. Let me just say folks, there are other ways to do things, it’s just like if you correct your child, and they don’t agree, they’re not going to go to this degree, but to use her power to tell teachers, employees, and parents who not to vote for is illegal and wrong. Unjust and unconstitutional, or whatever that word is I just used. She should walk in and lay her resignation in on her desk today. We will not stand for that kind of stuff here in Charles County. We’ve worked too hard, to long and to strong. But time has come for people to take a stand that we are here, we are well qualified and well educated, we can do the job. And we ain’t gonna let anybody turn us around." And I can say that is a direct quote because I taped the rally and played it back to type it out.

The following was also stated:
“If we stand here and say this is not about race, then we are kidding ourselves. It’s about race, it’s about ethics, it’s about power, and who should be able to harness it. This rally is about the due process, Continues targeting of African American Officials that just so happen to be running for office.”

“We are sick and tired of this ugly campaign. We’ve come too far to turn back now. Filing suit after suit only against black officials simply because they are standing up for their civil rights. You talk about Commissioner Rucci but you don’t file suit against him. You refer to them on Social Media as the “three amigo’s and nobody denies that. ….And last but not least, why don’t they sue the sheriff, he drives around in a company car, he puts signs, he campaigns, while in duty and in uniform. Why aren’t we suing him? He’s been asked for information so folks can know how to adjust the budget but he won’t give up that information. Why not sue him. I’m not understanding this, I am not understanding this. We can no longer stand by and stand idle and allow our civil rights, cause this is what this is about, be trampled. What we fought for, what our ancestors, what Dr. King and so many others have shed their blood for, and right here today in 2014 we are standing here today because people in power don’t want to give up power. We can vote you in, we can vote you out. If you play fair, but if you want to cheat, we gonna be there when you get there. And for those of you that don’t understand and think that it’s an attack on those that are running, the only thing I got to stay to you is if you make it, is what you gonna do when they come for you. What you gonna do then they come for you. “

My question is, is there any validity to their claim? And what are your thoughts about this rally and the circumstances that have brought us to this point?

Jennifer Abell said...

Anonymous in Comment #5:
Thank you for contacting me. I can say without a doubt that Mr. Braxton is absolutely incorrect in his statement. Ms. Hill (as you can see from the transcript I posted) NEVER mentioned the election or who to vote for. We (the elected board) hired Ms. Hill to run the Charles County school system and to advocate our students, teachers and parents. It is her job to keep them informed of upcoming calendar, schedule, program, financial, etc. changes.
As for the whole race issue, the Thursday protest, involving the NAACP, Cornell Posey, Reuben Collins, Debra Davis, and Janice Wilson (per the Maryland Independent)is the first i've heard of the "race-issue" this entire campaign. I personally believe it's an entire fabrication to draw attention away from the true issues at hand. While I personally was not in attendance, and can only base my opinion from media reports, evidently several people were directly questioned and asked for specific incidents of how this campaign or Ms. Hill targeted a race and none was cited.
I hope this clarified my stance. Please let me know if you have further questions.