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SCHOOL DEPARTMENT’s $82 MILLION CHUNK OF PITTSFIELD’s BUDGET YIELDS PRECIOUS LITTLE IN RETURN … PLANET PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON THE CHICANERY … plus … WILL IT GO ‘ROUND and ‘ROUND? MANY HOPE SO FOR THE BERKSHIRE CAROUSEL PROJECT

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, NOV. 22, 2011) — How top heavy is the current school department in the city of Pittsfield? Consider this: Today, there are a little more than 6,000 (6,016) students in Pittsfield public schools. A generation ago, there were more than 12,000. Nonetheless, despite having but half the students, today the department employs more than twice as many staff, including teachers and administration.

With half the students but twice the staff, the main job of the schools is to continue their “smoke” campaign to cloud the public — We The People — to keep them in the dark. They need to justify their jobs, which has become the #1 Mission Statement of the Pittsfield public schools.

The game has become: “Help the Underfunded Schools.” It’s a croc. School, Pittsfield schools, are the most OVER-funded part of the city’s budget. You don’t employ hundreds and hundreds of administrators and teachers at phat salaries/benefits without skinning someone. In this case, the schools have the taxpayers, because to insist on fiscal sense for the schools means you’re “against education, against the children.” What bullspit.

Schools East Up 2/3 of the City’s Budget with Little to No Accountability

Something’s wrong with that picture? At $82 million and counting of a $120 million budget, the school department is single-handedly sinking Joe and Mary Jane Kapanski, the beleaguered Pittsfield taxpayer who, as is typical, have no children in the system. They don’t use the services, but they are required to go into hock to pay for them.

Politicians, administrators, and teachers’ unions all have it in for Joe and Mary Jane. They don’t want them to know how much education costs for so little results. For example, the city of Pittsfield lists the costs for running the school department at $52,484,497. They hide $30 million by listing health insurance costs for school department employees and transportation costs for students in the municipal side of the ledger. If you try to do that in your private business, next thing you know, your fancy talking to Da Man at the IRS office.

The also want you to believe in the ridiculous cliche that taxpayers are somehow not properly funding public education. Candidates for office routinely tout how they are “for” adequate funding for schools, as if we don’t already have that. The problem with public schools isn’t money, although we agree that it gives pols, administrators, and other interested parties an excuse for failure: “We need more money. The answer to public schools is more money. Give is more money, and we will fix it.”

There’s enough money. The problem is in how it’s deployed.

The problem isn’t money. The problem is the lack of will to implement low-cost solutions, for example, revamping the school dress code and insisting on adherence. Chinos or khakis and shirts with collars for boys, knee-length skirts and buttoned-up blouses for girls. Better yet, implement uniforms in the public schools. We aren’t saying this will solve all the problems, but it’s a low- to no-cost start at the solution. Another would be the elimination of tenure, which protects too many bad teachers and induces too many good ones into mediocrity.

A Bloated Administration and an Average Teacher Compensation of $72,500 a Year Adds Up to Systemic Failure and the Ripping Off of Taxpayers

Pittsfield schools are overseen by a six-member school board, which is voluntary. They supervise and administration that consists of:

* 1 superintendent at $131,325 a year (* to all salaries, add approximately 25% in benefits; also remember that this is for a 181-day school year)

* 1 deputy superintendent, $102,715

*10 secretaries and clerks, $425,992

* HR director, $75,000

* 3 Information management positions, $232,954

* 1 assistant super, vocational/technical, $94,096

* 1 assistant superintendent, business, $116,755

* 1 Assistant business manager, $55,000

* 1 legal settlements (whatever that is), $10,000

* 1 legal services, $50,000

* Plus about $120,000 for professional development, recruitment, and other miscellaneous administrative expenses.

There are 359 teaching spots (not including hundreds of vocational or special ed personnel) budgeted for $20,856,108 (an average of $58,095 or about $72,500 with benefits). The $72,500 is the average compensation for a teacher in the Pittsfield public school system for a 181-day work year. Pro-rated to a year, this amounts to an annual compensation of $145,000. Never thought of it that way, did you?

What did all that money buy? It bought declining enrollment and a loss to the district of $3,069,376  million in lost school choice. This added $1 to the tax rate that Joe and Mary Jane pay. It bought teachers’ loss of control of the classroom. It bought turning over local control of education to the state and the feds. It brought sub-standard MCAS performance in the high schools.

7 Out of 10 Students fits the definition of ‘Special Education’ or ‘Low Income’

Another scam is the abuse of “special education.” A full 17% of pupils in city school fit some definition of “special education,” with typically is a budget buster. An additional 54.7 percent are low-income students. Instead of expecting such students to raise their performance levels, we set the bar low, almost to the ground, and dumb these kids down into the intellectual ghettoes created by public education.

In short, 7 of every 10 students are in a high-maintenance category that consumes a disproportionate share of the recourses and contributes disproportionately less.

Perhaps we should rethink “the right” to a public education. Education is a privilege taxpayers make available to parents for their children. Only families who want to respect this gift outright should qualify for funding. Families who want to take an active part in the education process by proving a stable home situation should be welcome. Families who wish to sponge off the schools as a free baby-sitting service need to be invited to leave. A “free” public education should be given only to those families who can provide evidence of giving back, either in time, talent, or treasure.

What of those who fall through the cracks? This is a question for philosophers, social scientists, and other thinkers. Not that it’s a new problem: With dropouts rates at staggering levels and the high school diploma no proof of ability, too many of these students slip through the system and choose to ruin their lives.

The solution will arrive once we as a society begin to get serious about public education, as is the rest of the industrial world.

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Storefront’s Demise, or, Another Pittsfield Merry Go-Round

When we reported that Storefront Atrtists Project received taxpayer assistance, a commentator called “factual” said no to us, insisting that SAP funded itself through a nebulous collection of individuals, businesses, fairy godmothers, and the like.

We went to the SAP website. There is not a word about funding. No donors are recognized. No contributors are acknowledged. No benefactors are praised as the next Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

We therefore respectfully ask “factual” to provide us with a list of contributors, with amounts, for the past year of operations. Assuming that “factual” is being factual, that should not present a problem.

Has the City Made the Carousel Project Go ‘Round in Circles?

We do find it odd that while the city gushed over this group of artists, it has given little love to the Berkshire Carousel Project. Go to www.berkshirecarousel.com to learn of the majestic art being produced, incredibly, by volunteers as they carve from wood the horses for a classical wooden carousel. The carousel, if all continues well, should be installed and operating in downtown Pittsfield sometime in 2013 — assuming the Mayan calendar has Armageddon wrong.

The project is spearheaded by Jim Shulman, a retired hospital administrator who grew up in Pittsfield and a man who loves his native city with an amorousness that shines through in his words and actions. You can read more at the website. The bottom line, though, is the bottom line. No public funds were available for the group. A city that has for a decade prided itself for cultivating culture has ignored this effort. Have the daughter of a once-famous novelist want the city support for her vanity-press art, and the city is right there.

Berkshire Carousel has been doing it on their own. This is more than about a carousel. It’s about the transformative power of volunteerism to create positive change in a community.

In carving these exquisite ponies (you can visit the workshop in the Berkshire Mall), Shulman has built a community of dedicated volunteers doing it for all the right reasons. Shulman graciously keeps the focus on them and their work. He says he wants to “engage people in ways other than writing big checks or using tax dollars for short-lived or narrow-focused projects. Our country benefitted from people getting involved in community projects after the Depression and during WWII through doing constructive things. Israel was built as a country with kibbutz volunteers working together for a purpose.”

He speaks as an idealist, and THE PLANET says there’s room for ideals in the too-often cut-throat world of 2011, a world in an eternal hurry.

“These are the models that can solve the issues our politicians talk about and do nothing about,” he says. “People can enhance their own self-esteem and enrich their communities by using their energy in constructive ways.”

“It would be great if our leaders thought beyond spending the tax dollar on projects that look good and benefit a few to ones that are ‘self perpetuating’ and can involve many.” He recommended that anyone wanting more information on his plans to contact the executive director of the carousel project, Maria Caccaviello.

Carousel Project Will Feature Museum Dedicated to Pittsfield History, with Private Collections to be Housed

The carousel project will cost city taxpayers zero dollars, says Schulman, but it does need the city’s help in writing and obtaining grants for locating the carousel, plus to house large collections of items pertaining to the history of Pittsfield (from his collection and those of others). Shulman says a vast treasure-load of items will be donated to created a museum that will feature the carousel as the showpiece. Items include one of the city’s first fire trucks and an old city bus that will be restored as part of a working exhibit.

The exhibit hall would ideally be located in downtown Pittsfield, and Berkshire Carousel Inc. says that is the preferred option. It has said other communities have expressed interest.

Shulman says that the carousel project has attracted about 150-200 volunteers: “This was our goal: To be catalysts for positive community change, and it has been working.”

Board members include Frank Bonnevie, owner of Fred Villari’s Studios of Self Defense; Bobbi Cohn, sales manager, Marian Raser Jewelries; Jonathan Denmark, Berkshire Insurance Group; Rocco Shannon DiNicola, owner, Butterfly Sneakers Parking Lot Management and Striping; Jonathan Lothrop, state department of social services and Ward 5 councilor; plus Jim and Jackie Schulman.

To find out more, call Caccaviello at 413-499-0342 or online at berkshirecarousel@yahoo.com.

———————————————————-

BUTTERBALL’s ARE BASTIN, AND THERE’S NO TIME FOR WASTING. WE ANTICIPATE A GREAT TASTING, AND SO …

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

39 Responses to “SCHOOL DEPARTMENT’s $82 MILLION CHUNK OF PITTSFIELD’s BUDGET YIELDS PRECIOUS LITTLE IN RETURN … PLANET PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON THE CHICANERY … plus … WILL IT GO ‘ROUND and ‘ROUND? MANY HOPE SO FOR THE BERKSHIRE CAROUSEL PROJECT”

  1. rick
    November 22, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    hey dan,with a declining population and school choice, along with use it or lose it grants the next thing we are going to see is the argument for the new high school. didnt tfb say she is the educational rep… i would like to have seen yrs. ago that the schools had their own budget separate from the city, and they would be responsible for it.. money grows on trees in this state, its no wonder why people are leaving ma.in droves… tax payers are getting whacked hard with no end in sight…you cant blame people for trying to get more from their employers, but we the tax payers are their employers and we are broke, they need to understand that.

  2. Ron Kitterman
    November 22, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Hopefully the new administration will take a more accepting role in this project. Jim Schulman is not one to shine in the spotlight by himself and feels that the project is the work of a combined effort not the efforts of a few. His book would make an excellent Christmas gift for someone who grew up in the Berkshires or who lives here.

  3. ambrose
    November 22, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Tenure is the most misunderstood aspect of teacher protection. Plenty of teachers with tenure have been fired (pressured to resign) and left. However, those who chose to fight always won, because they can fall back on, sometimes decades of excellent evaluations handed out by gutless administrators who failed to call the shots. Rather than do anything about incompetent teachers or administrators the people in charge transferred them to other schools. Teachers work in a political atmosphere where influential parents can cause them great problems over something that may be no more than a personality clash. Teachers have rights the same as anyone else. School administrators would much prefer a mediocre teacher who keeps his or her mouth shut as to an excellent teacher who makes waves.

  4. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    November 22, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    What that up in the sky? Its a bird, no, its a plane, no its new school committee member Terry Kinnas flying to the rescue of Pittsfield taxpayers

  5. dusty
    November 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    I have donated to this most worthy carousel project. Could be the best thing to happen to Pittsfield in a very long time. You don’t want the city involved in this at all for any reason. They will want control and screw it up like they are doing for Waconah Park.

    Interesting board members though. I tried to sell some inherited jewelry to one of them once. She said it was worth next to nothing and offered me a pittance. i took it to someone else the next day and got $700 for it.

  6. Jim Gleason
    November 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    The asst. Supt. for vocational, who is listed here as making over $94,000 per, can’t come up with a plan for vocational ed by himself so the city (school dept.) had to hire a consultant to do his job for him. Mr. Coty was incompetent as vice principal at PHS so what did they do to him? Why, they promoted him to asst. Supt. for vocational. Typical Pittsfield, the non-doers get promoted to hide them.

    • Scott
      November 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

      Didn’t our current mayor do the very same thing???

      • Jim Gleason
        November 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

        Yes, with BLT.

  7. tito
    November 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    @ rick….well said …. build it and they will come, just like a new jail..another social program costing the tax payers and ruining our social fabric.

  8. JUST SAYING
    November 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    DV-

    Great point on who funds the school system. This state encourages low income/no income people to produce as many offspring as possible. Each new child raises the EBT/housing/wellfare payment.
    So not only do the working people supply food, lodging and living expense, but also “education” for the habitual system suckers. It really has become a system of the less you try the more you are given.
    Take a drive down North, Tyler, Wahconah etc in the middle of the day. See all the kids pushing the baby strollers? Think they pay any taxes? No. But we do. And we will be paying for the babies in the strollers in a few years when they go to school.
    Assistance was originally designed to give people a bit of help in bad times. It has become a way of life for many.
    The schools seem to feed on it. Classify the kids as “special” in some way, get more state money. The abuse is a the top levels of school leadership, also perpetuated by the ability of those who benefit from producing many children. It is sickening.
    Education is not a right given by the Constitution. Therefore it has no place being publicly funded.
    As you know I’m not a Pittsfield resident. But I do pay a sh!tload of state taxes. Much of that money is wasted on those who refuse to work. From the salary figures you posted, those at the top also get their share.
    My mother was a Pittsfield public school teacher in the early ’70′s. She was able to leave work when I was born (dad had a good job), I was never sent to any public schools.
    TFB, sends her kids out of town for school? Really, doesn’t she stand on her soapbox and preach to the little guy about how wonderful the Pittsfield system is?
    It appears that the Pittsfield school system is a microcosm of America. The top abuse their power. The bottom abuse their power. The middle class tax payer takes it in the rear.

    • Al
      November 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

      Just saying- did you chech the MASS stat constitution BEFORE you penned your comment. Oh right, the facts don’t count.

      • Joe Pinhead
        November 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

        Al, being your so concerned about facts. There is no Mass “state”constitution that you speak of. We have a Commonwealth constitution. Just wanted to be sure you were aware of that in your quest for facts.

      • JUST SAYING
        November 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

        Al-
        The Constitution of the United States is written as a document concerning the negative powers of the Federal Government. The 10th Amendment grants powers to the states not enumerated in the Constitution. If in fact this wellfare state/commonwealth has on its books some inane legislation declaring that education is a right, that’s more reason for the producers/tax payers to get out. You want a commie state? Better get a job and save your money. Because those of us that provide a lifeline for the trash on both sides of this have had enough.
        My statement was pertaining to the founding documents of the nation.
        I did not reference any document that has been adopted by the Commonwealth.
        I do not have children. That’s my choice. What’s not my choice is to be forced, through taxes, to provide outlandish salaries to the people who run our so called education system. Also it is not my choice to provide a damn thing for the system suckers who live off of my taxes, much less the children they produce to supplement their ‘income’.

  9. Joetaxpayer
    November 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Really would like someone to look into merging some of the schools empire.Lets close one of the 8 elementary schools and move all the egg heads into it.Lets get them out of Mercer and get that building back on the tax rolls.Also look into moving out of Hibbard and into the same building as Adminstration.Some hard decisions must be made to control costs,not just laying off some janitors and cutting sports and the arts to get everyone in a frenzy.

  10. JUST SAYING
    November 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    I have seen the carvings being done for the carousel. They are simply wonderful works of art. Their colors and form are excellent.

  11. Scott
    November 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    The very reason I took my child out of public school is because they would not give him extra help with reading with out classifying him ADD and suggesting I put him on medication. We told them we would exhaust every effort before even considering medication and they were very pushy I can see how some parents can be persuaded into doing the wrong thing for their kids. The last IEP meeting they told my wife she was right and he didn’t need medication blah, blah, blah we said ok well we’re putting him in a private school see ya! It’s a little known fact that schools get extra cash for every kid they classify special needs and they will only help out extra with that label and it’s complete BS. I’d also like to point out this was Lanesborough where there’s even more money to go around.

  12. Joe Pinhead
    November 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Being fully aware that I am about to suffer the wrath of the educational establishment let me submit the following. Have we lost track of the entire educational process both nationally and locally? Are we serving the needs of the children and the community? Or are we serving an ideal that might be wonderful in principle to some; but unobtainable and more importantly untenable?
    There was a study done a few years back regarding the Amish and the educational system they use. I raise this study due to the lack of “spending” as we would define the word and the results (we want the same results as the Amish). I currently do not have the time to breakdown the spending of the 16 countries ahead of us in science, math and language arts.
    Do we have a lack of spending? Or have we created an establishment that defends itself with our children using guilt, ridicule and a “we know best attitude”? Kansas had a court battle to decide spending on schools and the courts had a tuff time sifting through spending in its totality with transportation costs buried in other budgets, unencumbered funds not counted, (a legal method since the funds are unspoken for) etc.
    Why does the School administration hide the actual figure? For the amount invested what should the results be? We are continually told we need to invest more, so how much more will bring us to what end point?

    http://web.missouri.edu/~hartmanj/rs150/papers/hornish.html

  13. The Kraken
    November 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    The Dems are in bed with the unions. The unions are lobbyists and the Dems take the campaign contributions and/or the union endorsements in exchange for giving the union a very fat contract which is stealing the taxpayers money. The phrase ‘teachers are underpaid’ is a big fat lie.
    Did anyone notice that Obama’s so called job plan creates a bunch of union jobs paid for by your tax dollars?
    The Dems are controlled by the unions, the Repubs by the corporations. We are screwed.

    • Scott
      November 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

      @Kraken so true and unions were an answer at one point to the greed of corporations who put human life after profits.

  14. JUST SAYING
    November 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    @ Scott-
    Well done sir. Your child will receive a better education away from union controlled poison pushers. I have a friend in Pittsfield who has gone through the same thing. His son will also be moving to a private school.

    @JP-
    Nice link. Thanks. We need more actual teaching. I read a report on per student spending some time ago. It compared NY with Utah (I think it was Utah, whatever, a small population western state). This study compared the state that spends the most on each student with the one that spends the least. Wanna guess which state had higher test scores? The point is this, money spent does not equal good education.

    @ TK-
    Yup, exactly.
    Dems hate right to work, and GOP hates to share profits.
    A great many free trade agreements have allowed the business owners to offshore their production. But, at the same time, unions have also forced companies to move where people actually work for their wages. We are caught in the middle and there is nothing left for the people who want to work an honest day for an honest wage.

  15. Browning
    November 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    Planet this is an amazing post for it truly shines the light of truth on the hoax perpetuated on us suckers (taxyapyers) by the educational establishment. my hope is that a new admin, and the addition of Mr. Kinnas on the school board will at least bring the corrutpion more out in the open.

  16. Molly
    November 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    PHS is a total disaster — the kids show up in the morning to be counted as “there” and then take off for the day — day after day after day, and no one knows or checks!! And the low-life’s that are there and totally disrupt the classrooms, constantly, and bully anyone who wants to learn — what do we do about that? The parents either don’t know or don’t care or both. I agree with Dan that education is not a “right”, it’s a privilege. But I doubt that I’ll live to see the day that something like this would actually be implemented. It’s gotten so bad that not only do some consider it a “right”, they then expect to get free college tuition as well – and many times GET IT, too! Can you say free “PARTAY”?!!!

    I know of a teacher at PHS who contacted the mother of one of her students because she wasn’t doing her homework, she wasn’t showing up for classes, and was about to fail. The mother told the teacher that that’s HER problem! That she is responsible for the kid during school hours and to do her job! With so many parents acting this way, and hence the kids acting up, what chance do these kids have and what about the kids who want to learn but these punks do everything to prevent anyone from learning?

    If a teacher sees a kid walking the halls during school hours and stops the kid and asks, “what class are you suppose to be in?” the kidS answer, “none of your f’ing business!” “What’s your name?” “none of your f’ing business!” “You’re going to the Principal’s Office!” “Oh yeah? Realy? I’d like to see you try to make me!” And off they go. It’s amazing. There is absolutely no respect for teachers or anyone with authority — and there’s absolutely no consequences for that, either.

    It’s really a mess. I really think that the overwhelming number of punk kids in the schools (The Bloods Wannabe’s) – the total lack of any discipline is really the biggest problem that exists in the PPS system. The government tells us that by not doing something to allow these kids to stay in school and to graduate will just cost us more in the long run as they won’t be able to get jobs without an education and we’ll end up supporting them. What about that – is it true? What is the answer?

    • Scott
      November 23, 2011 at 4:46 am #

      Yes Molly I agree as a parent involved in my child’s education it is very frustrating I mean why label a kid special ed and put him in with the trouble makers when they have no behavioral issues and just need a little extra help? The system is def flawed on a national level. I don’t know what we’re gonna do for high school but I will tell you this if I have to go hang around the school a few times a week and sit there to make sure my kid gets an education I am prepared to do that.

  17. JUST SAYING
    November 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    @ Molly
    Great posts! Keep at it.

  18. Ray Ovac
    November 22, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    DV, you write “Have the daughter of a once-famous novelist want the city support for her vanity-press art, and the city is right there.” It’s because Berkshire County is blessed with residents and second-homeowners who look upon themselves as absolutely dripping with sophistication and culture. These self-absorbed leading lights go absolutely ga-ga over any form of celebrity in the area, passing through, or even, as in the case of Ms. Mailer, just being the offspring of a celebrity. The BB, of course, plays its own role with puff pieces guaranteed to be impressed with every celebrity it ever interviewed.

  19. JUST SAYING
    November 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    @ JP-

    Thanks man. Another eyeopening link.
    More proof that throwing cash at education does not work.
    Studies comparing children who are taught at home show that their ability for free thinking is higher than their publicly taught counter parts. The so called higher education system in America breeds radicals that hate self reliance, hate capitalism and grow to depend on the state to provide for them. This is no accident, its by design. And, its working. Sad state of affairs.

    • Scott
      November 23, 2011 at 4:56 am #

      That’s the difference between an indoctrination and an education. We’ll be home schooling our newest little one for a while anyways.

  20. Dave
    November 23, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    As pointed out above, the City of Pittsfield is only a small part of the overall problem in this country. We see it first hand in Pittsfield because it is in our face.

    The “State” that our country has become is a far cry from the ideals that our fathers founded this country on.

    You want to start pointing fingers, point them at yourself if you don’t vote. It is easy to bitch about the condition that the country has sunk into, yet, when there is an election, how many are at the pols?

    i believe that there should be major changes as many others would agree. We talk about it but seldom do our ideas get bounced up to our representatives and seldom do our representatives do anything about what we tell them.

    We can make fundamental changes to how things are run if we speak up, agree on how to fix the problems and insist that REAL change is made. So often we listen to the career politician tell us that if they get elected, they will bring change. What really does change mean to a politician?

    YES! We need change! What are we as individuals doing to insure that change will happen and to what end?

  21. Richard
    November 23, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    I believe that the teachers have a good thing going and that is why they don’t want a spot light put on them. I think it is time for an independent body to investigate them.

  22. Rivetor
    November 23, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    I’m in synch with richard, we should have an independent investigation ofthe schools perhaps an audit. The high schools are a disaster. Remember the fiasco at PHS on class night $9000 in prom money stolen, no arrests, no accountability.

  23. Eric Vincelette
    November 23, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Being on the Town of Lenox finance committee, I sat in on a recent meeting between the selectboard, school committee , town manager and department heads and The Lenox schools do the same thing. They separate their increase in health care costs, from their overall budget. So instead of them reading that they received roughly $150k more on total dollars from 1 year to the next , they read the numbers as, they “got cut $50k” and it was amazing to see how strongly the School Department held onto that position. If this was the private sector, what business would separate health care cost from the total cost of doing business? The answer is none…The bottom line is that in these days of tough economic times, with decreased revenues in towns and cities and state/federal aid being cut, municipal govts. are either going to have to have boards, councils and politicians willing to make tough decisions and push for the unions to come into line with the current economic environment and make the needed adjustment in terms of how much their employees pay for health care or be willing to raise taxes on an already pinched Joe and Mary Taxpayer or be willing to cut services. PERIOD, END OF STORY.
    And if history is any indicator, politicians won’t or can’t push the unions, can’t tell which, services won’t be cut, and taxes will go up..

    • Joe Pinhead
      November 23, 2011 at 9:28 am #

      Just asking, I understand the questions regarding the budget, how it’s tabulated and how it’s not. That’s just political hack rhetoric; was there a question of quality of service? How about the questions of “does the delivery of the services meet the needs of the consumers”? Or the spending on special education takes away at the other end of the spectrum to what degree? There are a million other questions that need to be answered beyond funding. It’s also a fair bet to say that if the other questions were answered in a manner the consumers agree with the funding part would be a non issue. But instead we are using our children as pawns in some sick spending charade.

    • danvalenti
      November 23, 2011 at 10:17 am #

      ERIC
      This is a GREAT, real-life, from the trenches story of The Scam at work. They will take an increase in money and spin it so that the education dollar is being cut. That’s classic, and each election cycle, we hear candidates mouthing the school department and teachers’ union feed them about how taxpayers are not providing enough funding for public education. It’s the biggest con job going now in town, city, state, and (possibly) national life.

      • dusty
        November 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

        “They will take an increase in money and spin it so that the education dollar is being cut.”

        Dan, let’s identify who “they” are. Specifically, in Pittsfield, who are “they?”

        I ask because if people in power, who are not doing right by the people, were publicly identified and pointed out, the next one might think twice about doing a half assed job on purpose. It is called accountability and someone needs to start calling these people on it by name.

        • danvalenti
          November 23, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

          “They” are the Educational Establishment, allowing for the exceptions who prove the rule. That means: The leaders of the city teachers’ union, the administration, bad teachers protected by the system, mediocre teachers who “play ball,” recalcitrant members of the school committee, and politicians beholden to the “education vote.” They names are there for anyone to look up. People have stopped paying attention, and the skunks went to work, in the name of “education,” the “schools,” and “the children.”

          • dusty
            November 23, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

            Everyone knows that much. But the fact that they can hide in plain view, nameless in a group, i.e. “school committee” seems to make them seem, individually, not responsible. Cuz they are only one person…”Oh what can I do by myself?”

            i think you can pick out any one school committee member and he or she is to blame for riding along and not just standing up and screaming that they have a huge problem. Much easier to just go along for the ride. None of them deserve to be on a committee with such huge responsibility. they pretend to care but in fact they lie.

          • danvalenti
            November 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

            Yes, DUSTY, school committee rides under the radar and they subscribe to group-think. Most anything done by committee, in a political environment to boot, is doomed to mediocrity. It also sends out hand-engraved invitation to corruption born of laziness and borne by the fear you mention: safer to “ride along” than to “stand up and scream” that there’s a “huge problem.” Your diagnosis is precise! Taxpayers have a slim hope in the election of Terry Kinnas. I can’t imagine Terry will go quietly into the good night. Sure, people can knock him for being long-winded, or “boring,” or any other word or phrase to marginalize him, but Terry’s not afraid to address the truth. He is one of the most prepared people I’ve ever met in public life. He comes to the battle with information and not just data but the INTERPRETATION of data (without which information can be used to obfuscate, the way the school department uses it, for example). As you apty put it, “They pretend to care but in fact they lie.” We need a school committee to begin “pulling nutties” and waking the School Department up from its phat, lucrative, taxpayer-funded slumber.

  24. Grumpy
    November 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Let us not forget that the parents who home school their children receive no monies from the state. The city or town where they live are given credit the same as if they were in the public school system. Where does this extra money go????