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Warren Schools Budget Approved, But Questioned

Parents, Teachers at meeting question impact of negotiations on $41.7 million budget.

This year, there are the nuts and bolts of the budget—and then there's what was on the minds of the 20 or so parents and teachers at Tuesday's pubic hearing: how much would settling the ongoing teacher contract negotiations impact the budget?

Board members wouldn't get into specifics, in accordance with an agreement with the Warren Township Education Association, but stressed the 2 percent tax levy cap means if one area of the budget goes up too much, something else must be cut.

As for the nuts and bolts, the $41.7 million budget approved by the board raises $37,216,026 in local property taxes, an increase of $501,728 or 1.4 percent above the level raised in the 2011-2012 budget. The tax rate will decline from $0.942 per $100 in assessed value to $0.939, however, because of increased assessed values, the owner of a property at the township average of $625,650 will see a $66 increase in taxes for the local district.

Superintendent of Schools Tami Crader reviewed the budget's benefits, which include no reductions in existing educational programs, courtesy busing, and the purchase of iPad carts for classroom use in each school.

The budget also appropriates funds from the Capital Reserve to pay for resurfacing of the playground and part of the parking lot at Mt. Horeb School, new windows at Central School, renovating bathrooms at Mt. Horeb School, as well the rennovation of a faculty bathroom at Woodland School and a long-awaited playground project at Woodland School.

But when questions on the budget came, more were focused on the question of how much settling with the teachers association would impact the budget. Salaries for regular and special education instruction accounts for 41 percent of the district's spending, with benefits another 16 percent.

Several teachers also urged the board to settle with the teachers.

"I do feel our greatest asset is our teachers," Bev MacGorman, a teacher and resident, said. "I do feel money needs to be put into teacher's salaries—I would encourage you to find the money to do that."

Judy March 28, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Mr. Patten, you neglected to comment on how when asked where the fact finder is, whose 'soft deadline' of 45 days has come & gone, the reply from the board was 'we don't know'. Also when asked how much the fact finder will cost the district, the answer from the board was "We don't know". So we are waiting on a fact finder who no one seems to know where he is, how much he will cost & regardless of how much we spend on it, the report is non-binding so both sides or either side can say no to whatever is recommended. Also, you neglected to comment on the line in the budget that shows us spending $413,008 less on Regular Instruction in the 2012-2013 budget then we did in the 2011-2012 budget. I'm still wondering why that money wasn't put towards offering the teachers a 2% raise (approx. $380,000). As usual, I left the meeting wondering why no one seems interested in working together to end this.
Judy March 28, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Also not brought up was the $90,000 being used to purchase iPad carts for the elementary & middle schools. In a better economy, with teacher contracts settled, I would be all for the iPads, but spending $90,000 on something that many people have at home & that the technology is constantly changing in is just wasteful in my opinion. I would rather have my teachers spending time teaching in front of my kids then them sitting with an iPad doing something they could do at home.
mandy lazer March 28, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Judy I do agree with you about the Ipads for the classrooms! But as far as Bev, a WMS teacher is she threatning the board? because she can always go find a job in another field or a different district!! The teachers have to realize that this is real life, and more and more families can NOT afford to put dinner on the table, who are they to expect a RAISE!?? My husband has NOT gotten a raise in 4 years!!! Works four times as hard, and prays to God that his company does not to let him go so they hire the first grad for half his salary!!! Just because Bev lives in Warren and is lucky enough to work in Warren her education as a teacher can NOT compare to some of the white collars workers in Warren! YOU ARE TEACHERS!!! not brain surgeons!!! Big deal what you get paid, you follow a lesson plan out of book..O please dont complain that you spend not even 6 hours in classroom with well behaved children and parents that are so ready to please!! You are complaining?? Go to the inner city schools those teachers not only teach but they are in some cases the mother and father to those children! You all have it made not to mention hows the lake house Bev? I dont have a lake house!! most people dont!!! The teachers should look around them and stop acting like uneducated BRATS!!!!! IF YOU DONT LIKE WHAT YOU HAVE OR WHAT YOU GETTING.. GET THE HELL OUT!!!!!!
mandy lazer March 28, 2012 at 04:37 PM
just to let you know that I no longer live in Warren, because I cant afford it!! but had to give my opinion!! thank you!!!
Heather Trumpore March 28, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I completely agree that the Ipad use for the elementary classroom seems unnecessary, especially given that the WHRHS trial didn't go all that well and they are reassessing the use in the classroom. It is still a new technology with hiccups in the educational setting right now. Mandy, I have know Bev for many years while my kids have gone through the Warren School system. It is absolutely not in character that her comment should be considered a "threat" to the board. Like many teachers and parents there is an exasperation with what has been going on and her comment is more likely a response to the same thoughts you stated regarding the ipads in the classrooms - the teacher are the bigger asset not the technology. Remember they are also only being told what the Union wants to tell them and even if they aren't in agreement with it they are stuck unless they want to start over in another career. Your personal attack on her having a lake house is uncalled for. I'm assuming that she is not the only working person in her family and it is not her teacher's salary alone that allowed her the ability to purchase one. Many people scrimp and save for years to purchase shore homes or lake houses. The second home is their vacation instead of spending thousands every year to take a week off somewhere. She is a handy person, the vacation market has been in a decline for the past 5 years so I don't imagine a her pursuing an extravagant home with money they have both been saving.
Judy March 28, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Mandy- the quote from Bev- "I do feel our greatest asset is our teachers," Bev MacGorman, a teacher and resident, said. "I do feel money needs to be put into teacher's salaries—I would encourage you to find the money to do that." was far from threatening. If you were there you would have seen it was a heartfelt plea from a teacher who apparently teaches a home ec class without a stove or sewing machines. I do not know Bev at all, nor do I own a lake house, but I do not begrudge her or anyone else for what they have- should she work for free because she has a lake house? I think your post gets to the heart of a very important matter- parents are angry. You don't even love here & you're angry. Parents are angry at teachers, teachers are angry that they aren't being supported by parents & through it all our schools suffer. The anger & frustration shouldn't be directed personally at the teachers that care for our children everyday, nor should it be taken out on the children or their education by job actions that affect them. I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the BOE & the WTEA. Both sides should have realized a long time ago that they will both have to give something in the end and reach some sort of middle ground. Instead we all twiddle our thumbs & get angrier & angrier waiting for the fact-finder to come back when he sees fit.
Judy March 28, 2012 at 06:13 PM
As for your comment on teaching, I disagree wholeheartedly. To be a good teacher is a very hard job. To make a difference in a child's life is not easy. By your anger towards teachers, I assume you never had a really good teacher or you would value what that meant to you. I was blessed with 2 amazing teachers in my life & I know that they had an impact on who I am now. In the few years that my children have been in school in Warren, they have had many amazing teachers already. While we are not the inner-city by any means, your 'well-behaved' comment is a bit of a stretch. I spend a lot of time in my school volunteering & I assure you they are not sitting there with hands folded quietly waiting instruction. For the most part, they are good kids, but put 20-25 of any age group in a room and you have some work to do just with getting their attention much less teaching them. I'm not saying that they should get unlimited amounts of money or huge raises in a bad eceonomy but a good teacher at the very least deserves your respect & support of what they are trying to accomplish for OUR children.

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