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STAY THIRSTY, MY FRIENDS: THE PITTSFIELD SCHOOL DEPARTMENT LAYS OUT ITS BUDGET … PLANET EXPOSES THE SHELL GAME … ‘THE SYSTEM’ ONCE AGAIN COUNTING ON WEAK POLITICIANS AND ‘STATUS QUO’ ADMiNISTRATORS TO NAIL TAXPAYERS

By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2013) — If you are lucky enough to have a job, do you routinely go to your boss every year, demand raises between 4 and 10%, expect to get it, and then threaten dire consequences if you don’t? Likely not.

If you work in the Dreaded Private Sector, this approach to your personal finances gets you a boot in the rump and out on the streets in two seconds flat. If you are the Pittsfield School Department, however, you get your raise. This approach has worked for the schools virtually every single year, at least since (ahem) “Education Reform” became state law in 1993, and probably for a few years prior. That’s at least 20 consecutive years of raises, by our estimation, even though performance by any number of measures has gone down — graduation rates, test scores, attendance, and most importantly what we hear from the colleges and businesses who take our graduates after they get out of high school.

A System that Rewards Failure

In Pittsfield, and to some extent in the country, public education — having been hijacked by teachers’ unions out for every taxpayer buck they can get and school administrators making huge salaries just as long as they keep from rocking the boat — has been a system that rewards failure. The worse your school performs, the more money you say you need. It’s the perfect gig. To make it work to perfection, The System relies on compliant politicians and public officials to do their bidding by giving this money grab  the official stamp of approval, “making it all nice and legal, like.”

The PSD passion play plays out every election cycle. The unions scare the politicians. The politicians scare the parents. The parents scare the school administrators. It’s what they call a zero-sum game, except the sum in Pittsfield’s case will cost taxpayers anywhere between $90 and $100 million dollars. Ah, like everything else, the cost of ineptitude isn’t what it used to be.

Presently, the city spends more than $90 million on its public schools. That is roughly four times as much as it spent prior to 1993, even though the city population has dropped by nearly 20,000 and there are half the number of students now as compared to then. To teach this student population that has dropped by 100% over the years, the taxpayers have been forced to hire twice as many teachers as then and three times as many administrators (again, estimates). Where we once had one superintendent, we now have four (the Super, the Deputy Super, the Associate Super, and the Assistant Super), each making on average well over $100,000 a year not counting benefits and not counting this year’s inevitable pay hikes.

Will Someone Out There Stand to End this Madness?

Like fools, once again we hope and pray that someone, somewhere, somehow steps up, speaks out, and ignites a spark that sets off the building discontent from bedraggled taxpayers, who year after year must shell out for the shakedown. The irony is that the vast majority of them have no children in the Pittsfield Public School system, yet pay they must.

We The People, the owners of government, are angry and ready to ignite, and in this condition, when the spark yet again doesn’t come to pass, the anger resolves itself into an even worse condition: apathy. Disgusted with slime-ball politics and an equally moist, slug-trailed school department, they stay away. They don’t attend meetings. They don’t ride their representatives. Worse, they don’t vote. Consequently, the budget savagery comes full circle, and the perfect fiscal storm being run in the name of public education perpetuates another, more expensive version of itself, until the next year, when the cycle repeats.

We detail the art of the crime:

(1) It begins with the school department falsely stating the numbers of its budget. When Asst. Supt. Kristen Behnke presented the proposed school department budget to the school committee, she presented the august figure of $57,472,984 (don’t you just love how she left the last $16 off at the end, to avoid kicking over the for lsat four digits on the right!). That figure represents a 5% increase over last year’s total. But you say, “Gee, PLANET, I thought you said it was more than $90 million?” True, but as the school department always does, it conveniently leaves out a.) the cost of health insurance, pension, and other benefits of school department employees, b.) the cost of running the school maintenance department, and c.) the cost of running the school bus system. Those are every bit school department expenses as teacher salaries, yet the total never makes it on the school spreadsheets. This figure (estimated at more than $40 million) gets buried on the city side accounts. Cute, eh?

2.) The school committee, if it does what it has done in the past, essentially rubber stamps the school department request.

3.) That figure then becomes official at the school committee budget hearing, which this year will be held on June 12 at 6 p.m. at city hall in council chambers. It’s a key meeting that the public will largely ignore and the school department will stack with plenty of teachers, parents, and, of course, The Children, who will be used as human shields against any unwise committee member who might actually, uh, question the numbers and say they need reduction.

3a.) This year, the mayor, as CEO of the city, as as an ex-officio member of the school committee, will “express concern” about the size of the budget increase for which interim Supt. Gordon Noseworthy is asking. Noseworthy, as interim super with a term set to expire on the last day of June, will have no interest in the mayor’s words. As of July 1, The Nose leaves town with a bundle of cash he made as interim, in which he did his job, that is, he did not rock the boat.

4.) But, watch, to show how “reasonable” the administration is, he and Behnke will propose a compromise. Thus, instead of getting the 5% first asked for, the school department “sacrifices” and “settles” for 2.5%. It then boo-hoos about how it took a 100% budget hit for the sake of taxpayers and, of course, The Children. What they mean is that the rate of increase they pretended to want was “reduced” to the increase they actually wanted in the first place.

5.) After the June 12 meeting, Bianchi, as mayor, will recommend an agreed-upon budget (agreed-upon by everyone except Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski, that is), to our Right Honorable Good Friends on the city council. Incidentally, the mayor can change that number. He could unilaterally take the negotiated proposed budget and slash 10% across the board. The message to the school department would be: “Trim the fat and decide between keeping jobs or reducing costs. If you can’t figure out how, I will on your behalf.” That’s how a mayor could become a hero of taxpayers everywhere and in the process actually force the school system to get smarter, leaner, and more productive. If Bianchi did that, we would personally commission and erect his statue for Park Square (all paid in Monopoly money).

6.) The council takes up the school budget. There will be some token opposition to the spending, but once again, our Right Honorable Good Friends will cave in to pressure from the teachers’ union. They will pass the budget, and it will become the taxpayers’ burden.

As Fat as It Is, It’s Not as Fat as It Gets

It’s funny how well-run companies in the Dreaded Private Sector have responded to the tough economy. They reduce cost, increase productivity, and insist on performance. The Pittsfield School Department, year after year, asks for more money, more employees, and doesn’t give a hoot about productivity (sure, it says it does, but in actuality it doesn’t).

Noseworthy spoke the usual inane bromides in discussing the budget: “We need a vision of excellence with a long-term approach to education.”

What does that babble mean? The school department “needs” “a vision of excellence?” It “needs” “a long-term approach?” I thought those were already in place? Read your own school propaganda, Mr. Super, and you’ll see lots of talk from previous years about “vision” and “excellence” and lots of other buzz words that mean crap and have an equal redolence. Your statement contradicts what your department contends.

Among the “highlights” The Nose wants to install in the PSD before he leaves:

* $453,000 toward a bus fleet upgrade.

* $100,000 for “a phase-technology plan,” whatever the heck that is.

* He wants to add the following staff positions (add, mind you, not cut):

* one teacher at Crosby

* two paraprofessionals at Egremont

* two technology teachers for middle school

* an English language teacher for non-English speakers

* three new high school teacher

* a reading “interventionist” (you gotta love that; anyone know what that means?)

* an additional “Float” nurse

* additional volleyball coaches (yes, what the PSD needs is more volleyball coaches! Brilliant!)

* A web manager

Lady Behnke Talks of ‘Surplus’ — Great, only it’s Millions Short of Honesty

Lady Behnke boasted that the school department expects to end FY13 with a surplus of $21,956! Well whoop-de-friggin’-do!! Bring out the dancing girls. Pop the champagne corks!! Call the roller of fat cigars!!

That paltry surplus means the schools budgeted this past FY with an astonishing accuracy rate of 0.00024%. Amazing … and also impossible. No one can budget that accurately with such large sums. What she’s not saying is that the department is hiding millions of dollars on its books, all legal of course, but moral? That’s another question. THE PLANET cannot detail the process here, but trust us, we believe from what we’ve been told that there are millions (our guesstimate: about $3 million) being hidden, legally, in the budget.

First time around with these numbers, our Right Honorable Good Friend, at large council Barry Clairmont, pursued an intriguing line of analysis with the initial school numbers. Clairmont, an account by trade, used his sophisticated expertise to analyze the budget. His conclusion? He found almost $1.5 million squirreled away in the books. Lady Behnke rose to that occasion a few months ago with a lot of doubletalk, essentially fending off the initiative. We wonder, though? Will there be more revelations to come? We have come to know Clairmont as the dogged type, one who won’t give up on a quest where he believes he’s in the right. It will prove to be interesting on June 12, council chambers, 6 p.m.

Stay tuned, and meanwhile, stay thirsty, my friends.

———————————————————————————-

“how could tasting touching hearing seeing / breathing any — lifted from the no / of all nothing — human merely being / doubt unimaginable You?”e.e. cummings, stanza 3, “I Thank You God for this Most Amazing”

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

67 Responses to “STAY THIRSTY, MY FRIENDS: THE PITTSFIELD SCHOOL DEPARTMENT LAYS OUT ITS BUDGET … PLANET EXPOSES THE SHELL GAME … ‘THE SYSTEM’ ONCE AGAIN COUNTING ON WEAK POLITICIANS AND ‘STATUS QUO’ ADMiNISTRATORS TO NAIL TAXPAYERS”

  1. Still wondering
    June 7, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    How can I get me a piece of this action???

    • danvalenti
      June 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      Become a school department administrator or an official of the teacher’s union.

  2. joetaxpayer
    June 7, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Dan let’s not forget the 1.5 million for renovations to Hibbard School. Yes the same Hibbard that was closed in 2009 because of its “unsavory state”. We should be closing one of our 8 elementary schools and move the Hibbard storage and Mercer egg heads into it.We have 2 elementary schools with less than 250 kids.

    • danvalenti
      June 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      JOE
      A million or two here and there … what does it matter to them? They see it as THEIR money, not yours.

      • joetaxpayer
        June 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

        Alan couldn’t carry Dans typewriter. Who reads the Eagle ?

        • danvalenti
          June 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

          Thanks, JOE. Actually, Herr Doktor tried to carry my typewriter once. He strained his groin.

  3. FPR
    June 7, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Good coverage of this once again Dan.

    My answer will be the same every time. Disband the entire school system and put the responsibility back to the parents to educate their own children.

    This would cut taxes by over 70% for every single taxpayer in the city of Pittsfield whether they have children or not.

    How easy it is to put little Johnny on the big yellow school bus in the morning and relieve yourself of all the responsibility of educating the ones you brought into this world. What a relief that everyone shares the expenses in true communistic fashion.
    Whew!

    When you tell people of Pittsfield how cheap the taxes are in other parts of the country (where people also have children in schools), the answer you get is “you must not have any services”. People in Pittsfield love tax increases. It makes them feel like they are getting something for their money. Pittsfield is a bargain. Even the powers that be always say.

    • debbie
      June 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

      School Committee/ IRS!……its all Bullshit!….I think ” We the People” should just cut our own taxes in half until we can clean out the corruption in this city. What can they do put a lean on your house? Penalize you with interest rates? So they won’t have our money in hand to put in their pockets. People our taxes pay for this BS! Let’s take control!!……

      • FPR
        June 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

        If Pittsfield were to vote out every single incumbent no matter who it is, the mayor, every single city council member, school committee and dog catcher, they would be no worse off.

        Keep the same people in and you can expect more of the same. Nothing will change. Tax hikes guaranteed.

        They gave Bianchi a chance and he obviously failed. Give someone else a chance.

        Hopefully Dan Valenti will run. Put Joe Nichols back on the city council.

        • debbie
          June 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

          When do we start making the signs for Dan? I’m available this weekend. Let’s go

  4. Gene
    June 7, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    And don’t forget the $1.5million to “study” what to do about Taconic HS, to refurbish or to tear down and build new. DV I wish you were in it for mayor. Graet reporting.

  5. tito
    June 7, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    ,,,,,par excellence team Valenti! The new catch phrase for all of this is ‘an investment for the future’,,,,,,carry on Planet,,,,

    • danvalenti
      June 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

      Thanks, T
      Yeah, “an investment for the future.” What a load.

  6. taxmano
    June 7, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    “Clairmont, an account (sic) by trade, used his sophisticated expertise to analyze the budget.”

    You’ re kidding, Dan, right? Dancing Barry (a moniker you coined, if I recall correctly), came off as a blustering, grand-standing fool, as usual.

    • danvalenti
      June 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

      TAXMAN
      No, I’m not kidding. I’m referring here to the school budget, which the council will get on Thursday night, June 13. His analyses, I’m speculating, have been geared toward that meeting. THE PLANET says there’s anywhere from $1.5 to $3 million being hidden on the School Department books. All we’re saying is if anyone has the professional tools to figure out how this “legal” scam works, it would be an accountant.

  7. tito
    June 7, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    It was very clear Kirsten (money in the) Behnke, took (Tuesday’s with Barry) Clairmont, to the cleaners that night.

    • danvalenti
      June 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      She did, T, and I’m wondering if perhaps the tables might be turned in this, the Money Round.

    • B. Clairmont
      June 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Tito,

      No excuses. But, please keep in mind, I gave them my questions a month in advance, and when I asked for their responses in advance, so I could review them In advance, they refused. I was set-up. It’s tough to make an analysis without their numbers in front of you.

      They don’t have my questions this time.

      Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

      • Dave
        June 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

        Barry, I am going on vacation next week. It will drive my wife crazy but I am going to DVR the budget hearing. How many hours do you think I need to set it for, or will it still be going on Friday when I return?

        • B. Clairmont
          June 8, 2013 at 7:37 am #

          LOL, maybe till Friday morning, but I hope not!

      • danvalenti
        June 7, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

        This says it all, our Right Honorable Good Friend: “I was set up.” Methinks it shan’t happen again, when you have another crack at “their numbers.” It shall provide worthwhile viewing.

      • levitan
        June 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

        Hey, that’s mine.

  8. Jonathan Melle
    June 7, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    In Pittsfield, Massachusetts:
    * Teen pregnancies double the statewide average
    * Welfare caseloads are higher than high school diplomas
    * Job loss is #1 in the commonwealth
    * PCBs pollute the land, water and air
    * Good Old Boys run the show
    * The Schools are overpriced and underperforming
    * Dan Valenti bitches about it every weekday on his blog
    - Jonathan Melle

    • Charles Trzcinka
      June 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      As well he should. Everybody in this unfortunate city should be bitching about the poor job done by government including the school system.

  9. The Kraken
    June 7, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    I had hoped when Bianchi was elected all this might change, if only a little. Man, was I wrong. He’s just another teacher’s union puppet.
    I heard someone on TV say a few weeks ago that it’s alot easier to keep raising taxes, then to go through a budget line by line and make cuts. That sure as heck rings true in this disaster of a city.
    Of course, seeing how we live in a society that constantly takes the easy way out, and eschews effort and responsibility whenever possible, this really should come as no surprise.
    Any entity, whether it’s the gov’t or private corporation, that has control over that much money, will become corrupt, every single time.

    • danvalenti
      June 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      KRAKEN
      That strategy of raising taxes and the saying you’re going to go through line items is hogwash. That’s the sort of thing a terrified politician says to “justify” caving in again to the teachers union and administration.

      • The Kraken
        June 8, 2013 at 7:24 am #

        Dan, typo on my part, I meant it’s easier to raise taxes THAN to go through the budget. One little letter, entirely different meaning. My bad.

    • Scott
      June 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      I too though Bianchi was the man for the job they talked him up as some budget genius who does a budget without making many friends but it was all a LIE! Vote this gob out!

  10. B. Clairmont
    June 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    Dan,

    Wednesday the 12th is the school committee’s meeting. The Council meeting is Thursday the 13th at 6:00pm.

    Barry

    • danvalenti
      June 7, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

      BARRY
      Thanks. We shall be most interested in hearing your comments on the 13th.

    • dusty
      June 8, 2013 at 2:25 am #

      Good luck Barry. There has to be millions in waste and unnecessary spending. I hope you find some and expose this school budget as the scheme it is. Let’s peel this onion and lay it out on the table for all to see. Then for once let’s hold some real people accountable.

      If you do you can probably win as a write in candidate for mayor. This is a gut issue with taxpayers who are sick of being ripped off.

      • danvalenti
        June 8, 2013 at 5:47 am #

        “This is a gut issue with taxpayers who are sick of being ripped off.”
        As well as it’s ever been stated, DUSTY.

  11. debbie
    June 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    What strikes my interest is Alf doing all his School Committee work while sitting in his Probation Office on our tax money. Is this considered double dipping our tax money? At know time should Alf be doing anything other than probation work from 8:30 am til 4:30 pm Monday – Friday. But his staff has witnessed his School Committee work being done all on State time. Must be slow in Southern Berkshire District Court? Plenty of time for School Committee work! After all court is held Monday and half of day Thursday.

  12. Joe Blow
    June 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Dan, is a line item budget available to the public?

  13. Dave
    June 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    On another budget note. I was watching the finance(I think) committee meeting and the issue was the pay for recent hires in the personnel(I think again, sorry but how exciting are these things) department. Someone was hired at one grade with a wink wink nod nod it would be increased by 30% when the job description was changed. To their credit the committee did not go along with this farce. But wait, as usual, it was too good to be true in Pittsfield politics.The councilors’(I kid you not) rationale was that we need a comprehensive review of all the salaries in city hall because the poor employees have not been given the raises that the counterparts on the school side have received.
    In the last 5 years I have lost my 401k employer match, my paid sick days, and available hours I am allowed to schedule for all my employees per week. I do not like this, but if the alternative is that no one gets laid off, I will happily make these sacrifices. In the back of my mind the laid off one might be me! I work for a great company who hopes to reinstate these losses if the economy turns around. That is the difference between the private and public sector. If the council, employees, and mayor of the city of Pittsfield think that now is the time for across the board raises for all then it is time for an all across the board change in Government officials. I believe the easiest solution is like minded people to run for school committee. It is the board that controls the majority of the budget, but sadly gets the least attention from the electorate. 1 Terry Kinnas is not enough, if we have 4 or 5 things will change.
    Terry Kinnas, if you are reading, give us some names of people who think like you who we can contact and pledge our support.

    • danvalenti
      June 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      DAVE
      It would be a great way to force change: Get a three, four, or five like-minded citizens interested in driving intelligent reform in the school department budget and the way it’s run to campaign as a slate for school committee. Would you consider running, Dave? Anyone else out there? Think about it. Give them a run for your money!

      • debbie
        June 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

        You have my vote…let’s go people! Its long over due.

  14. Giacometti
    June 7, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    If the PSD is asking $ 1.5 million to fix up Hibbard School what happens to the JRC Program at the old second street jail which
    took up the slack of Alternate School students after Hibbard was closed ? Will Hibbard School become the site of a new JRC ?
    Only a jail setting is successful in running the JRC as it is the kind of high security that is needed to get JRC students to learn.

    • joetaxpayer
      June 8, 2013 at 5:16 am #

      I heard might move adult learning center into the Building. The thing is 1,5 million will not even come close to get that building up to snuff I can see the old bait and switch with that #. Also what’s the rush, if a brand new Taconic is built, who says the entire old building has to be torn down.

  15. Blind Justice
    June 7, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    Give us the Strength. Give us the Wisdom, and GIVE US THE MORALS.

    GOD HELP US . PLEASE !!!

    • danvalenti
      June 8, 2013 at 5:47 am #

      A prayer we can all share, BJ.

  16. ShirleyKnutz
    June 8, 2013 at 5:24 am #

    The city needs to go back to the basics. They should start at a budget of $0 and then start adding only the items that are needed. They need to look at all that other agencies offer and not duplicate services. If they did their budget in this manner I am positive they would cut the city budget by 20% minimum.

    • danvalenti
      June 8, 2013 at 5:40 am #

      A new form of zero-based budgeting.

    • dusty
      June 8, 2013 at 8:29 am #

      I like that kind of thinking. But first you have to get the roadblocks out of the way. Alf is one of them but I think he gets his orders from higher up. If you could get an audit passed the mayor and absolutely confirms its independence, you could track where this money is spent. And that might just spell out why the budget is so high and why it keeps going up.

    • FPR
      June 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

      Start with a budget of zero and rebuild the entire school system from the ground up.

      Love it!

  17. FPR
    June 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Dan,

    I don’t think there will ever be any affective change in the statues-quo unless you or some just like you steps into the ring.

    I know it would be the battle of your life to survive the onslaught of attacks by the GOB and the Berkshire Eagle, but if you win the fight, the people of Pittsfield would only stand to gain immensely even if they don’t realize it.

    I do think though that you would try to work within the current structure of things to try and improve upon and save the taxpayers at least some money but unless you shake the system to its very core, there would be no progress. It is folly to try and save the current system of things.

    Disband the current school system. Start with a zero balance. Build a whole new school system from the ground up. You know when the forefathers of this country started it, there was absolutely no provisions to “educate” the children. They must have figured they people who had kids would figure it out.

    What you have now is a Frankenstein monster that is out of control. A cash cow for the elite whom the people elect every two years. 70% of property taxes going to the “indoctrination of the children”. Freakin insane.

    Make the elderly work off their tax burden…… tax em to the stone-age….. minimum wage — RU f’ing kidding me? What, take away their houses if they cannot pay? After you’ve wasted all their tax dollars. RU f’ing kidding me? Give their houses to pregnant teens? Free Methadone? No bread lines, only food stamps far beyond any bread lines that existed it 1929.

    Pittsfield is a bargain?

    QE 5 will work.

    • FPR
      June 9, 2013 at 4:17 am #

      ITK, you’ve found your scape-goat.
      Everyone thinks like me? Who knew?

    • danvalenti
      June 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      FPR
      A keen insight into the state of things with public education in Pittsfield. THE PLANET thanks you for your support, and we have taken your observations, and those of others, under advisement.

  18. B
    June 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    I was watching the school committee’s budget meeting dated May 22 the other night that was being televised on TV and Terry Kinnas was going through the different line items. Mr. Kinnas seems to be the only school committee member in my opinion who is concerned about the Pittsfield taxpayers’ money. If Mr. Kinnas plans on running for the school committee again I will vote for him, he will be the only member on the current school committee board that I will vote for the rest of them can go straight to you nowhere. So please people out there take out the papers,plan on running for the school committee you’ve got a great chance of becoming a new member I’ve spoken to so many people who are sick of the people on it now that they are willing to vote for anybody new so take out the papers run run run.

    • dusty
      June 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      And the icing on the cake is that Alf wants his little friends on his committee o be paid for their dysfunctional loyalty to the cause of sinking the already sunk ship deeper. You can’t make this stuff up!

      • danvalenti
        June 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

        That would be the perfect ending to this, wouldn’t it. For their enabling role in the fiscal screwing of taxpayers, the school committee gets paid with more taxpayer bucks!

    • danvalenti
      June 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      B
      This statement says it all: “Mr. Kinnas seems to be the only school committee member in my opinion who is concerned about the Pittsfield taxpayers’ money.” You speak the truth. Our hope is that with out coverage, and with an aggressive, intelligent councilor such as Barry Clairmont, we may be able to convince more school committee members to step forward for expose what’s going on in the schools.

  19. tito
    June 10, 2013 at 5:48 am #

    Barry, be weary of unexpected expenses and the fact that we invest a smaller amount per student than other cities in Massachusetts, we need to get that corrected. No, that’s not my idea, heard it on G M P this morning while driving. Kirsten (money in the) Behnke has your number Barry, hope you’re prepared for the mudslide Thursday?

    • B. Clairmont
      June 10, 2013 at 11:30 am #

      I’m prepared.

    • danvalenti
      June 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      Right-O, T. Lady Behnke’s job is to justify the fraudulence (the fiscal flatulence) of the current PSD finances. She’s got a key role: Wallpaper over the numbers, hide money (in the millions, by our estimates), blow smoke, and when people like Barry Clairmont get too close, start with the double talk and the non-sequiturs. Economics, being jargon rich, provides ample opportunity for a reasonably clever person with an adeptness for language to seem to say much without saying anything. Clairmont, in our estimation, will be ready.

  20. Charles Trzcinka
    June 10, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    Here in Monroe County, Indiana we spend $9,800 for each of the 10,800 students in the K-12 school system. That number includes transportation and debt service. Pittsfield Mass spends $16,700 per student by your calculation. Keep in mind this is the home of Indiana University where the parents are very, very demanding and recently voted for a $7.5 million tax increase per year to fund schools. We use this fact to recruit faculty to campus. Yet we spend far less than Pittsfield. We get better performance with 58% of what you spend. People like Alan Chartock who think they can determine what teachers are “worth” without any reference to performance are putting Pittsfield’s school system out of control.

    • danvalenti
      June 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      CHARLES
      Your experience in Indiana proves that the problem with public education in Massachusetts (and Pittsfield in particular) is not money.

  21. taxmano
    June 10, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Another wonderful, rational article by the highly esteemed Dr. Alan Chartock:

    http://www.berkshireeagle.com/opinion/ci_23416990/alan-chartock-heres-what-teachers-really-worth?source=most_emailed

    • Charles Trzcinka
      June 10, 2013 at 11:06 am #

      This is the article I was referring to. Chartock pays little attention to the performance of teachers not to mention the number of people who can do the job. There are far more people who can teach than who can get through medical school so its not surprising doctors are paid more. But outstanding teaching is hard, the guy in the office next to me is a much better teaching than I. As a result, he doesn’t have to do research, I do

      • danvalenti
        June 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

        Excellent insights here, CHUCK.

    • danvalenti
      June 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      TAXMAN
      Thanks. Herr Doktor is just a shill for the teachers unions and everyone who advocates for the Loon Left. No one takes him seriously.

  22. tito
    June 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    Looks like councilor Morandi was the key vote for the downtown hotties budget, way to go Kevin.

  23. FPR
    June 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Dan,

    The city of Philadelphia PA is having massive problems with school budgeting. One result is “Homeschooling Growing Seven Times Faster than Public School Enrollment”.

    I find this refreshing to see.

    Here is the article:

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/07/Report-Growth-in-Homeschooling-Outpacing-Public-Schools

    The video is quite informative and the comment section is very good on that page.

  24. levitan
    June 10, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    If you work in the Dreaded Private Sector, this approach to your personal finances gets you a boot in the rump and out on the streets in two seconds flat.

    Actually, it’s worse than that. You accept 1-2 % raise each year, but when you accumulate three weeks paid vacation, they fire you. It’s a never ending cycle in the private sector that assures happy stupid youngsters are always in high supply to replace the expensive seniors.

  25. Giacometti
    June 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    I was just wondering if Charles Trzcinka is the very same
    Chuck Trzcinka who played football in the late 60′s at St. Joseph’s High School in Pittsfield ? I remember him as a
    fearless lineman.who played alongside Jim Russo at St. Joe

    • danvalenti
      June 12, 2013 at 6:06 am #

      GIACO
      He is, indeed, the one and the same!

  26. Brian Z. Taylor
    June 20, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    Vocational and/or technical courses offered within a comprehensive school, usually a senior high school.