Walton County School Board budget discussion

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Rollin' Tide, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. mdd88jd

    mdd88jd Beach Lover

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    To answer the first question---If we could raise the millage in the capital outlay by a quarter mill, that should equal 3.5 million dollars. We would then have to get the voters to approve the transfer of that quarter mill to the operations budget similar to what we did 6 years ago with the half mill. The new total transfer would be .75 mills. However, we could not, at the same time lower the local millage on the capital side to keep the millage the "same" like we promised and did during the last referendum. In other words, we could ask for a quarter mill increase in the capital budget and ask the voters to transfer it to operations by referendum. That would be a tax increase.

    Can't answer the second quesstion. But, I can tell you this. The state will require a fairly large increase in that portion fo the local millage for schools that the State controls, called the "required local effort." That you can bet on....

    Thanks guys.
     
  2. Santiago

    Santiago Beach Fanatic

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    I thought there was already financial aid available for those in need of it. It seems to me that the bright futures program is having another effect on our universities in that more "bright" people are staying in state thereby raising the bar to get into state schools. My kids are still too young but I am hearing from friends about how hard it is to get accepted to UF and FSU. This is obviously a result of the bright futures program working. I may not like it so well when mine are of age though.
     
  3. TooFarTampa

    TooFarTampa SoWal Insider

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    I agree that it's great for so many families and hope that we can take advantage of it. I do know that buying into the Florida Prepaid fund when we did was a lucky break, because costs to get into the program have gone up.

    I think there are a couple of levels of standards (maybe 2 or 3) for Bright Futures. Maybe the top tier could keep their full award, which is something that was offered well before the official Bright Futures program started. Perhaps that could continue to help attract the best and the brightest. Maybe the bottom and middle tier of standards could become more needs-based, with a sliding scale that includes everyone to some degree.

    But my understanding is that many university presidents (the ones at the top schools especially) feel hamstrung by the artificially low tuition. With the severity of the recession, some are talking like it's crisis mode. There will be a tipping point where things are going to have to change or adjust sooner or later.
     
  4. wrobert

    wrobert Beach Fanatic

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    You know these are some hard figures to run down if you want to find a source that you feel is reporting equally for every state. The best I was able to do was to look at per student spending numbers released by the Census Bureau. The latest that they have is 2006. I found SAT scores for 2008, so going under the assumption, I know, that a significant increase in dollars spent, while may impact test scores, would not do so immediately I compared the two. The New Jersey/New York thing you mention was in 2002 according to several news stories I came across.

    According to the census Utah ranks dead last in per student spending. I am pretty confident in this since I have heard several legislators use it as an example when debating the education budget. In 2008 they ranked 20th in SAT scores.

    The number one spenders are New York, ranked 45th, New Jersey ranked 36th, and DC ranked 51st.

    The ones that spend the least are Utah, ranked 20th, Idaho ranked 24th, and Arizona, ranked 30th.

    Interesting that Idaho spends a thousand dollars more per student than Utah, yet still ranks lower in SAT scores.

    But like you said in the past SAT scores are really what you have to look at because the test is the same throughout the country. Attached is the spreadsheet I threw together keeping track of this. The dollars came from a US Gov website.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2009
  5. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

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    SAT scores have some hella selection bias if you're trying to use them as a school quality proxy. I remember the last time it came up that Alabama students had higher mean SAT scores than New Jersey students, but if you drill down into the college board reports, about 5-10% of Alabama high school students take the SATs (ACT is more common for college bound students in the South and Midwest unless they're a high achiever that's looking at a top tier national schools that's still SAT-only or need a validater for a National Merit scholarship) and the percentage of students who took the SATs in New Jersey (ACT less common) was at 60-70%.

    The Alabama students also had significantly higher median family income than the New Jersey students, something that suggests the Alabama group was skewing toward high achievers if you're familiar with usual student patterns.
     
  6. wrobert

    wrobert Beach Fanatic

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    I use them because that is what Mark always refers too.

    Since median income seems to affect test scores, then why not shift more dollars into the household to raise that income level?
     
  7. appalach

    appalach Beach Comber

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    What is the most objective way to be able to compare schools across state lines? The basic premise of using a national standardized test like the SAT or ACT makes sense at first glance, but as mentioned, there are lots of biases that can influence the results.

    In these times of economic uncertainty, many families are having to make choices to move to different areas for employment (if they are lucky enough to find a new job). Obviously, one of the issues most parents care deeply about is the quality of the new school(s) that their children will be attending.

    If a family is making a move within the same state, it seems as if it would be easier to assess the potential new school relative to the prior school. However, how is someone supposed to compare an "average" school in a state with a great public school system (wherever that might be) to a "great" school in an average state (again, wherever that might be)?

    Actually, since generalizations about entire states don't really help a specific family, how do you think a family could best weigh an individual school in one city compared to another individual school in one or two other cities in different states?
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
  8. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

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    Maybe if we had a true national stantardized test with 90% plus student participation, we'd get a better idea of what's going on. As it is, each state interprets NCLB differently, and what's passing in one state can be failing in another come test time.

    Meanwhile in higher ed, FSU says it may have to lay off 200 faculty members and close entire departments if the budget ends up being a worst case scenario for them.

    I also saw a blurb in another article about the school having a hiring freeze in the (self-funding) athletic department.
     
  9. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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  10. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    Story on last night's budget meeting. I wasn't able to go (probably a good thing since after reading the WZEP report, my jaw hurts from gritting my teeth).

    http://www.panhandleparade.com/inde...idents_speak_against_teacher_cuts/mbb7715036/

    WZEP has a more detailed report in their e-blast- I am trying to figure out how to link it.


    No matter what happens, the district is going to need parent help now more than ever. Thjere are several parents going to DeFuniak to pay $57.50 to be fingerprinted so we can work one on one with students. I don't mind, but I bet we could have a lot more volunteers if the volunteer background check process was more accessible and affordable. I am sure there are parents that won't be able to take time off from work and/or afford the fee.:sosad:
     
  11. Matt J

    Matt J SWGB

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  12. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    There is another budget workshop meeting at 3 pm today at the school board complex in DeFuniak, followed by a regular meeting at 5 pm.:wave:
     
  13. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    From Tuesday's school board workshop and meeting~

    I was told that nothing much happened at the budget workshop- I was told that they are still waiting from some figures from the state.

    At the regular meeting, there were 2 big topics- Emerald Coast Middle School (I started another thread on this) and the "education delivery model" change (4x4 block back to traditional). By a 3-2 vote, the Walton County high schools are going back to a traditional 7 period day- wonderful news! It was time.

    Kids off the block | block, kids - Local News - WaltonSun.com

    From the article:
    Although the estimate was made that the block scheduling plan could save the district up to $116,000 per year, research and arguments favoring the traditional model were cited by several parents, board member Mildred Wilkerson and by district supervisor of instruction and curriculum, Marsha Pugh.
    "Block scheduling is costing our children. It is not doing them any favors when they get to college," two South Walton High School parents told the board.
    Other speakers cited difficulties with teaching quality and student attention span over the course of class periods ranging from 80 to 87 minutes in the block plan. Small school sizes were also mentioned as problematic to this scheme, affording students fewer opportunities to take a desired class.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2009
  14. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    thanks for the info jdarg...about the block scheduling: some people have said the block schedule is preferable for the students who are in the AP program; without it, their college classes are difficult to fit in.....do you have any insight into this?
     
  15. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    We have seen that block is not good for AP (Advanced Placement) classes, since the AP tests are given in early May, there is not enough time to cover the material if the course is taken in the spring, or the AP class was taken several semesters earlier, and the retention goes down. Traditional schedule allows for 17% more instructional time. Our AP scores aren't great- we hope going back to the traditional schedule will help that. The students in the AP classes make good grades for those classes, but a disappointing number score a 4 or 5, which is required to get the college credit for that course. The AP calculus class is already taught fall to spring because that teacher recognizes that there is no way to cram it into one semester ( and this class has a good number getting the AP credit).

    I think you are calling "advanced Program" AP, and the college classes I think you are referring to would be dual enrollment. I am not sure how it all will work out, but OW has said they will work with our schools in coordinating the dual enrollment kids.

    We have Florida DOE stats of FCAT, SAT, and ACT, comparing FL schools on traditional vs. block, and the block schools perform dismally in comparison to traditional. Niceville, the school everyone loves to use for comparison, dropped the block a few years ago.

    It is a myth that block prepares our kids for college. You don't take 4 classes that last 90 minutes everyday- on block the kids take 4 classes per semester, each class meets 90 minutes every day. In college, you take a 90 minute class 2 x a week, juggling 5 or 6 subjects at once. I think this idea was promoted to "sell" the block schedule.

    Making this change is challenging for admin, teachers, and students, but we really don't need to reinvent the wheel. Many many schools have managed to make this change, and I am confident we can too. Or school is too small to make block work- there aren't enough sections of each class for the kids to make a good schedule, and they are often left with "filler" classes that they don't want or need, but could not fit anything else in that "slot".
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2009
  16. momof2kids

    momof2kids Beach Fanatic

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    jdarg - I've been getting asked if there has been any word on layoffs. Have you, or anyone else, heard about this yet? Has anything been posted as to the # of teachers & school staff that will or possibly be laid off? Thanks!
     
  17. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    There is lots of speculation, but I think the district is waiting on some figures from the state and feds- maybe Mark Davis can provide more information on exactly what they need to get a budget, but it is my understanding that until they have those figures, the number of layoffs and program cuts will be unknown. There will be some jobs eliminated, but how many, nobody knows right now.:sosad:
     
  18. momof2kids

    momof2kids Beach Fanatic

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    Thanks!!!!
     
  19. GoodWitch58

    GoodWitch58 Beach Fanatic

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    thanks Jdarg--I was under the impression that these people's students were both in the AP and dual enrolled...but, I could have misunderstood. What you say makes sense to me.
     
  20. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    We discussed this a bit today at SWHS- our guidance counselor was telling us that it very difficult to take both high school and OW classes at the same time due to travel time to and fro, even with block. So most kids do all OW classes during a semester, or take OW classes later in the day. For example, an 8 am OW class that last 50 minutes would knock out the first 2 periods of the high school block schedule, which is workable only if you could schedule your necessary high school classes in 3rd and 4th block, which is virtually impossible to be that lucky to have that work out. More likely, the 2 classes you needed that sememster would be 1st and 3rd, or some combo that wouldn't fit with a run over to Niceville.

    It's complicated to dual enroll where you are going to the high school and OW every day. We may have to look at an afternoon/eveing math class for Will's senior year, because thanks to block, he will be taking AP calculus junior year, and then will be finished with math. We don't want him going an entire year without math before he starts college.

    Another option is Florida virtual- he will finishing his language requirement this way next year. One class period will be set aside for him to go to the media center and work on his FL virtual class, instead of taking 7 classes at school and adding an 8th.
     

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