Monday, April 11, 2005

HB 132 Sponsor Under Questioning: (County Wide School Districts)

By Debbie Pelley (click "comments" below for article).

6 Comments:

Blogger Debbie Pelley said...

SB132 is still on the House Ed. Agenda for Monday and Tuesday, April 10 & 11. After it was voted down twice, I was told that Rep. and Chair of House Ed Com. Joyce Elliott polled the committee members to see how they would have to change the bill to make it acceptable to them. They don't give up; neither should we.

I had been told that Senator Whitaker, the sponsor of SB132 for countywide districts, had presented her bill as a study in the Senate and some senators voted for it thinking it really was one of those studies that is buried somewhere in a deep dark hole. I had to hear her myself actually say it was just a study to really believe she could say this despite the language in the bill. Here it is. She really said it over and over even after being confronted on it. See attachment (and pasted below) for what it really does - SB132 Is Not A Study!

Friday, April 8 in House Ed.
From Debbies Notes:

Whitaker said in presenting the bill," There has been some heavy handed lobbying going on against this bill. And I say heavy handed. It is only a study. Nothing would be implemented or done to change anything until next session. It would let us begin to look at possibilities. It would only be done slowly in a deliberate process in the next 15 years."

She also claimed,"I have amended it and amended it to make it acceptable to everyone. The ADE supports this. Most people who understand the bill support it. It could capture 10 million plus to go for teacher salary. With that ,I ask you all to think of yourselves as the state legislature. Don’t be intimidated by the heavy lobbying. Do we want to put it in administration costs or to teachers? We are still under the Supreme Court ruling.

Committee Member: " I am a little confused about the bill. You are saying it calls for an interim study. Page 2 – line 30 says, 'The administrative functions of public school districts shall be administratively reorganized so that all schools in a county become one countywide school district and share one countywide administration.' Isn’t that mandatory language?"

Senator Whitaker: "I don’t want this to develop into a semantics discussion. This does not mandate anything happening before next session."

Committee Member: "I am just trying trying to understand what the bill does. The way it reads you are going to do this and it is up to legislator how to do it. Isn’t this what the bill says."

Whitaker: "If I had said “may” it would have stayed down as a study and never gone anywhere. It is just a study."

Committee Member: "That is not what the bill says. That may be your intent but it is not what the law says". He gave another line and said "'Countywide school boards established under this subchapter shall be created.' Again that is mandatory language not a study."

Whitaker: "It only requires a study. I amended it down to a study."

Committee Member: "I am not arguing intent. I am arguing this is what the bill says. Also, how will money be saved?"

Note: I had to leave at this point to go testify on another committee, but I understand other legislators confronted Whitaker with more examples to show it was mandatory language not a study. She withdrew the bill and said she would amend it and they were to come back at 3:00 to the committee to vote on it again. They brought it back down and discussed it some more, and one of the committee members read from a sheet the facts about what happened in West Virginia after closing 300 schools.

West Virginia Results From Similiar Measure....

The number of local administrators has increased by 16% in the last 10 years despite a 13% decrease in student enrollment (41,000 fewer students) and closing of over 300 schools.

The number of state-level administrators increased and their salaries nearly doubled between 1990 and 2002.

SB132 is not a Study - It's a Mandatory PLan

The sponsor told the senators on the senate floor and the House Ed Committee members that this bill is just a study. Another senator and representative told them the same thing. That is a just not true.

The Plan starts immediately, not in 2016 as the Senators were told.

If you let this bill pass it will negate every hour of work that anyone put into the last legislative sessions on consolidation.

Two years from now there will be 15 counties where schools will be consolidated into one county district. Four years from now there will be 30 counties where schools are consolidated into one county district.

The law says 15 every two years until all counties are completed. (See quotes below)

As soon as you have one county school and one superintendent and one school board, they will have authority to close any and all the schools until they have what the Blue Ribbon and the Governor recommended - regional high schools. And worse, they will also be in control of all your elementary schools.

This bill is worse than the Omnibus bill or the Facilities Bill. It will be the worst law of the session if passed!

6-13-1704. Organization of countywide administrative units.

(a)(1)(A) The House Interim Committee on Education and the Senate Interim Committee on Education shall jointly develop a plan to gradually create countywide administrative units as provided under this act and making recommendations to the General Assembly prior to beginning of the next regular session of the General Assembly.

iv) Provide the creation of countywide administrative units in no less than fifteen (15) counties each biennium over the next ten (10) years;
(v) The fifteen (15) counties selected for each biennium shall include counties in each of the four (4) congressional districts of the state.

(b) The State Board of Education shall cause the creation of countywide administrations in any county approved by the General Assembly under subsection (a).

6-13-1703. Countywide administrative units.

(a)(1) The administrative functions of public school districts shall be administratively reorganized so that all schools in a county become one (1) countywide school district and share one (1) countywide administration.

6-13-1702. Definitions.

(4) "Countywide administration" means one (1) county chancellor of education, (1) board of directors, and a central office performing the administrative functions for all schools within a county;

They swore up and down that the Omnibus bill was not about consolidation until 30 days after it was passed. No one denies it now. They promised to let the isolated school districts keep their campuses and that lasted about one year. Please don't believe what you are told. Read the quotes above. Remember I told you the truth abut the Omnibus bill. I was the only one that testified against it in the Senate or the House. We are now adding another division to the ADE to oversee that law which will require more government employees. We have had a 10% increase in government employees in the last 10 years and a 70% increase in government employee salaries. Anyone notice any improvements????

This will not save money. It has done just the opposite in West Virgina. Since 1990, West Virginia has closed well over 300 schools. Among the results, “Closing Costs” reports the following. The major state paper ran numerous articles detailing this information.

· The number of local administrators has increased by 16% in the last 10 years despite a 13% decrease in student enrollment (41,000 fewer students) and closing of over 300 schools.

· The number of state-level administrators increased and their salaries nearly doubled between 1990 and 2002.

· West Virginia spends more of its education dollar on transportation than any other state; rising transportation costs have forced counties to slash funding from classrooms, offices, and cafeterias

Note that Little Rock, the biggest school in the State, has just finished a study that determined that their administrative staff had ballooned to hundreds more than needed. Why should you expect anything different with countywide districts.

The five largest schools in Arkansas combined spent approximately $58.8 million dollars above the state average per pupil in 2002. The hundred smallest schools in Arkansas combined spent approximately $13.5 million above state average. So the five largest schools spent well over four times the amount above state average than did the 100 smallest schools.

Debbie Pelley dpelley@cox-internet.com

dpelley@cox-internet.com

8:51 AM, April 11, 2005  
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