Prepared Text for Board Meeting – July 24, 2006

Marc A. Schare

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Tonight, we vote on the supplemental contracts for the fall sports and activities, but while it is not obvious from the agenda, what we are also voting on  is an implicit acceptance of the recommendations of the Supplemental Program Advisory Committee. This committee is part of the union contract  that were negotiated by the previous board and the previous superintendent and this contract calls for the Worthington Taxpayer to increase our funding for sports and other co-curricular programs by 150 “units” where a unit costs the taxpayer anywhere from $476 to $839. The total cost to the taxpayer for this increased funding is therefore somewhere between $71,400 to $125,850.

 

The rationale behind the increase is a concern that in many areas, our coaches are underpaid and that this is making it difficult to find teachers that are willing to coach. The Worthington taxpayer should understand that the first part of the claim is, for the most part,  true. While the analysis of cocurricular salaries that was performed by the WEA was flawed in a number of respects, the conclusion appears to be accurate. Some of our coaches, particularly in the middle schools,  are underpaid. The second part of the WEA claim, however, is conjecture based primarily on anecdotal evidence. There is simply nothing to support the notion that a permanent appropriation of another $125,000 for coaching and activity salaries will improve these programs or the experience of the kids.

 

The question before us, however, is not whether to spend the money – the money has already been agreed to. The question is whether we can find a way to spend this money in a way that benefits the children of the Worthington School District in a tangible way that merely increasing the salaries of existing employees in existing positions does not. I am not making any value judgements on the relative worth of any of these positions and certainly not on the individuals in the positions, I am merely seeking to reallocate these funds in a way that provides real, tangible improvement in the experience of the kids that we serve. It should be noted that even without the additional units that we are contemplating, the average supplemental contract recepient will be receiving between 6.5% and 7.5% more for their  service this year than last year, and another 6.7% to 8.2% effective in August of 2007. The additional units contemplated by the SPAC report are in addition to these increases.

 

Over the last few weeks, in conjunction with other members of the board, I’ve asked the Superintendent to explore the possibility of adding middle school baseball to our cocurricular program as a 2 year pilot program and to use a little over 15% of the already promised additional funding to accomplish this. The addition of middle school baseball would provide cocurricular opportunities for over 100 students and would virtually free to the taxpayer, at least for the first two years.

 

I want to be clear. Adding middle school baseball would not be a priority were it not for the fact that the district is already committed to spending additional money on sports and activities. I would very much prefer to see additions to the academic program such as the reintroduction of foreign languages in the elementary schools, but we have to spend this money on cocurricular programs. All I am suggesting is that we spend it in a way that will have a direct, positive impact on our students. There are others ways that we could spend this money in ways that more directly benefit kids. We could, for example, restore some of the cuts to the athletic budget that were made as part of the 2003 reductions or we could even use some of these funds to help pay for the weight room technicians while we seek out other solutions.

 

Alternatively, by approving these supplemental contracts, I am concerned that we are committing ourselves to a permanent appropriation of funds that do not serve to improve our programs and I am also concerned that we are agreeing to adapt the SPAC report without ever having discussed the SPAC report, Therefore, with an eye towards giving this board and our administration more time to evaluate alternatives such as middle school baseball and restoration of cut positions,  I move to amend this motion to temporarily restore the unit amounts to that of the last year and insert the following language into the motion:

 

“The board acknowledges that the 150 additional units as agreed to in the current WEA contract will be allocated prior to December 31, 2006 after a thorough review of the SPAC committee recommendations and after consultation with all stakeholders.