Wednesday, February 25, 2009

SPFT Budget Brainstorming

At our January membership meeting, the members present began a thoughtful discussion about the state of the SPPS budget for 2009-10. At that meeting, everyone agreed to take the budget discussion back to their respective buildings for further input and bring those ideas back to the February membership meeting. At Monday’s membership meeting we spent considerable time brainstorming and discussing our ideas to help solve the district budget crisis. Twenty-two different ideas were brought up with an additional 22 ideas coming from the building-level budget discussions that were brought back as a result of our work in January.

We want to make the beginning of our budget discussion as thorough as possible so it was decided that if members had more ideas to share they could send them (or call them in) to the St. Paul Federation of Teachers by March 6th. The complete list would be put together and presented to the Executive Board for discussion at the March 9th Executive Board meeting. The Executive Board will then determine any recommendations that will be made from the list that should be acted on by the membership at our March 23rd membership meeting.

While much has been publicly discussed and “proposed” regarding the $25 million shortfall our district has predicted, much remains to be decided. The SPPS budget is determined through many important numbers that remain variables at this point, most importantly 2009-10 student enrollment, the State legislature and Governor’s decisions about school funding, and the Federal Economic Stimulus package. What remained constant during our entire conversation in January and again in February was our collective belief of what students need in a high quality, non-negotiable public school experience.

Please continue to gather ideas and share them. Also, please encourage members to visit for the documents concerning the budget and for an opportunity to complete a survey the district has assembled to gather feedback on the Large Scale Systems Change, which has some budget questions in it. Finally, please encourage members to attend the “community engagement” sessions. While we are still requesting that the District hold a series of specific Staff engagement sessions, we believe that we belong at any community session as stakeholders as well.

Below are the opportunities to be involved in the conversation throughout this spring as listed on the district website:

• March: Parent/Advisory Committee (PAC) discussion on LSSC - Click here for schedule
• March 11 - April 10: Web feedback on Budget Shortfall Solutions 2009-2010 - via the website
• March 26: Board Listening Session (no topic - open forum)
• April: Parent/Advisory Committee (PAC) discussion on LSSC - Click here for schedule
• April 7: Public Forum (location, date and time TBD)
• April 21: Board of Education - BOE meeting (Possible sharing of draft recommendations for LSSC and Budget)
• April 21 - May 14: Web Feedback on LSSC Recommendations
• April 28: Public Forum (location, date and time TBD)
• May: Parent/Advisory Committee (PAC) discussion on LSSC - Click here for schedule
• May 19: Board of Education - BOE meeting (Possible sharing of draft recommendations for LSSC)
• May 28: Board Listening Session (no topic - open forum)
• June 16: Board of Education - BOE meeting (Possible sharing of draft recommendations for Shortfall Solutions and LSSC)
Note: Staff input on budget and large-scale system changes will be solicited at site, program and department levels. In addition, staff will be invited to attend public forums and give feedback through the website.

Thank you very much for your representation of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers and thank you very much for your continued work in St. Paul Public Schools.

Together, mary cathryn

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rally at the School Board meeting

I am going to ask for the comments made by our members at the rally this past Tuesday so I can publish them here for all members to see. They were powerful, eloquent, and sincere statements about their passion for working with students and their learning communities. In the meantime, here are my comments from the rally.

Teachers at Arlington and Humboldt learned about their restructuring plans after a Committee of the Board meeting. Staff learned about budget proposals after a Committee of the Board meeting. We shouldn't be learning about these plans after meetings, we should be bringing plans to these meetings.

Teachers can be trusted to help find solutions to all the issues the district is tackling from restructuring to declining enrollment and capricious funding.

Our members who just spoke are right: We want to see restructuring strengthen schools, not weaken them. We want to see budgeting strengthen schools, not weaken them, we want to see decision-making strengthen the work we do, and not weaken it.

St. Paul Public Schools can be poised to do everything right. St Paul can – and should—be the model for all of the other districts in the state facing drastic budget challenges and restructuring mandates.
And who can make that happen? We can!
Who can strengthen our schools? We can!
Who can meet the needs of our students? We can!
Who can make St. Paul Public Schools better? We can!
We can and we will! And when we do our students win and when our students win our community wins!
Join your brothers and sisters from Arlington, join our members from Humboldt, join us at our February 23rd membership meeting as we offer ideas for the budget, join me tonight in the School Board meeting. Join the fight for our voice and the future of our students. Thank you!