Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Efforts Won't Impact Budget

NOTE: The following article is a letter to the editor written by Mt. Lebanon resident John Kendrick.

Dr. Timothy Steinhauser's efforts are misdirected and will leave very little impact on the astronomical budget of the Mt. Lebanon School District.

The largest expense in the district budget is employee salaries. At this point, we won't have any meaningful impact on reducing expenses until we start reducing the payroll.

Unlike many Fortune 500 firms that employ a Rating and Ranking system, public school employees and their school board counterparts [like Mt. Lebanon] have vehemently opposed any program to assess the quality of their workforce using teacher competency testing that would systematically drop the bottom 10 percent each year from their payroll.

Further, the district will not consider an on-going effort to reduce costs like a kaizen goal of a 10 percent annual cost reduction. Until efforts are in place to change the DNA of the organization so that a focus on savings becomes as important as delivering services we will continue to see efforts like Dr. Steinhauser's resulting in a 1-2 percent savings, at best.

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Anonymous John Ewing said...

One issue Mrs. Posti brought up at the January Audit and Finance Committee meeting is that Dr Sable hired 13 new teachers. Assuming they were hired on the fourth step in 2004 and all have a Masters Degree they will go through a series of three jump steps in 2014, 2015 and 2016 that will increase their salaries 47% over those three years. We don’t know how many other teachers will go through the jump step in this contract but we can probably count on 13 extra teachers doing this.
Adding 13 extra teachers going through the jump step adds to the teachers contract costs, the building costs, and the pension costs so the savings in the new contract from retirements will likely be offset by extra increases in jump step costs.

Then at the last meeting the superintendent said he did not have his staffing done yet for next year and he would have to decide if he would have an elementary class size of 24 or divide that into two sections. The difficulty here is he suggested adding more elementary staff in the face of declining K-12 enrollment. Eventually, the more staff he adds at the elementary level the more staff and or program will eventually be cut at the high school level.

How the additional jump-step salary increases and the additional elementary staffing add to the already known costs depends on future staff and program cuts.

Don’t look for the building to come in under budget because Mr. Celli’s comments in the February 8, 2010 Master Design Team meeting minutes said:

“ . . . Tom Celli indicated that he wanted large alternates of $700,000 a piece and he wanted a maximum of 9 or 10 of them for budget control. It was agreed that all of these alternates should be deduct alternates so this job should be drawn as was estimated and then if the bids are high we can take some alternates to get back in line.”

In other words the budget amount is more important than the 15 design criteria the board is talking about.

Those at the Master Design Team meeting agreed that an auxiliary gym, the north elevator, air conditioning in the field house, and the tennis courts could be deducts from the project. [Gee, we just redesigned the tennis courts at the last Architect’s Update in March even though the Master Design Team agreed to the tennis courts as a deduct on February 8th.]

For the minutes of the meeting see the second page of the April 1, 2010 email I sent to many of you between the hours of 5:00 p. m. and 8:00 p. m. entitled LETTER TO THE SUPERINTENDENT FROM BILL MATTHREWS.

April 22, 2010 1:19 AM  
Blogger Bill Matthews said...

The letter John references is available here.

A related letter is available here.

April 22, 2010 10:32 AM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

Correction: The last Architect Update where the new tennis courts were presented was in April, not March.

Thank you to Bill Matthews for posting the Letter I referred to in my April 1 email.

Tennis parents may be especially interested in the last paragraph on page two of the letter that says:

” The tennis courts can be an alternate because their construction is way off in the future and by that time a different arrangement with the municipality may have been solved. The School District will have to play off site for at least three years.”

April 22, 2010 8:19 PM  
Anonymous David Huston said...

How many parking spots do you get in the space of 6 tennis courts?
Will students in the future be willing to give up parking for tennis?
How does charging for parking reduce the need to park?

April 23, 2010 7:32 AM  

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