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Principals get bad budget news

By Paul Socolar on Dec 1, 2011 07:01 PM

Philadelphia's principals today got the grim news in an email that their operating budget for the current year is being cut again – anywhere from 1 to 3 percent.

The email, from Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery and Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch, also announced a significant reduction in school nursing services.

Principals were supplied with a list showing the amount they can save by eliminating various school positions effective January 1.

"I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes," said one principal reached by the Notebook, who asked not to be identified. "How do I run my school?"

Another principal described the new cuts as "devastating." Principals will find out the exact amount of the cut for their school on Friday.

"These are the types of very difficult challenges and/or changes we’ve got to make to close the gap we announced a couple of weeks ago," said Nunery.

Nunery said that the District is prepared to help principals make cuts without laying off additional personnel. But he conceded that layoffs might be required.

"These are hard cuts to make, there's no question," said District spokesperson Fernando Gallard. Gallard said the reductions in school operating budgets will save the District $10 million this year.

An additional $5.1 million in savings will come from the elimination of 18 vacant and 51 filled school nurse positions. The ratio of student per nurse will grow from 750:1 to 870:1. But Nunery said that "those kids who are more medically sensitive or have greater health needs should not be affected by this."

In addition, the practice of monitoring students who take desegregation buses will also be eliminated. Some students are still bused to schools outside their neighborhoods under a longstanding desegregation program, but the legal decree is now moot and the monitoring is no longer required. 

A plan to make further cuts to school budgets was first announced in an October financial report to the School Reform Commission. An announcement of additional cuts to English language learner services, psychologists, instrumental music, athletics, and educational technology, and bilingual counseling assistants is still anticipated. The letter describes the total remaining budget gap as "no less than $39 million."

At a typical school with an operating budget of $2 million, a cut of 1 to 3 percent could represent a reduction of anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000.

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Comments (111)

Submitted by J. Taylor (not verified) on December 1, 2011 7:38 pm

"Those kids who are more medically sensitive or have greater health needs should not be affected by this???"

Wouldn't it be a refreshing burst of honesty to hear from central administration that medically sensitive kids will suffer from reduced services? How is it possible that they--and less medically sensitive children--won't be hurt by this reduction? It wouldn't change the harshness of this reality, but it would reassure me that Nunery et al had some kind of clue if they simply apologized and expressed their horror at the circumstances they were imposing on these kids.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 7, 2011 2:01 pm

Parents should be outraged by the decision to cut 51 nurses. There are
many schools currently that have well over 1200 students with 1 nurse
and no assist. So where did these false ratios come from? And if thats the case, then the schools with over 870 student should be eentitled to a second nurse a couple days a week. It would also be an outrage to force children with
"medical needs" to attend a certain school.

Peanut Allergies/Food Allergies-If your child has a severe
allergy, you would obviosuly want a nurse to be a part of of the team
to help collaborate with the team about specific signs/symptoms and how
to administer an epi pen. If this is not addressed correctly, then its
likely that this student could die from anaphylactic shock.

Diabetic Students
Did you know that if a student with diabetes becomes
hypoglycemic...that only a nurse can give glucagon (injection that will
bring a students blood sugar up immediately). This is a life saving
intervention that can not be taught to a teacher/administration. If we
dont have a nurse in the building and a child is unconscious because of
his/her blood sugar, teachers/administration would need to wait until
EMS arrives to give student glucagon. A child can die if this
intervention is not implemented immediately.Studenst with a high blood
sugar can get just as sick as a student with a low sugar.
Interventions for both are completely different and would also need a
nurse to assess the situation. Most children would be in need of
insulin coverage (can only be given by a nurse.

Diastat
-used to treat students that have a diagnosis of epilepsy. This
medication is given rectally to the student if they have a seizure that
lasts over 5 minutes. A registered nurse is the only individual that
can that can adminsiter this medication in an emergency at school. If
this child does not receive the medication and continues to have a
seizure over 5 minutes, the childs life is in danger due to the lack of oxygen.

Asthma
-Anyone can give a student an
inhaler...but who is there to assess if the treatment worked. The
nurse will always listen to a childs lung sounds prior to giving the
medication and then re-asses and auscultate lung sounds to determine if
the treatment worked

Immunizations
-As a school nurse, I am consistently monitoring student immunizations and making sure student are up to date. If we dont have a nurse can put this together, we could have outbreaks of diseases that we have not encountered recently.

Submitted by rmship on December 1, 2011 7:45 pm

Thanks JT! I agree, honesty is easier to swallow. Even if it is bitter....

baba Bob Shipman

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on December 1, 2011 9:13 pm

My school has only a little over 400 kids, but some VERY 'medically sensitive' students--including some that require tube-feeding. Will the bean counters just see the numbers and take our nurse? We cannot share with another school--those students need to be fed EVERY DAY! The school district will lose millions in the special-ed and ELL lawsuits that will come from this budget cutting.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 1, 2011 11:00 pm

How gives the kids their daily seizure meds? Are they going to relocate al of the kids with multiple needs?

Yea, this is totally opening them up for multiple suits. Anyone can give the kids their tube feeds- I did it for 7 years. But not anyone can give meds or handle emergencies. This is crazy.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on December 2, 2011 7:47 am

The principals and administrators should rebel against having to give meds. They tell them to do this, but it is very iffy legally. This cutting of nurses and other positions will end badly for some kids. Didn't the rape by 4th graders at Bryant prove that we need MORE support staff, NOT less? Principals will be forced to cut the people who supervise the kids in common areas--that will not be good. Parents also need to protest the use of funds by the SDP. Open up the whole budget for central admin line-by-line and see what can go. I say eliminate the "instructional walk-through teams" that have no valuable purpose. Let each regional asst. super have one secretary and one instructional person and send the rest of the teams back into the schools as teachers--why do we still have layers of administrators when the classrooms do not have supplies? Anyone who does not work in a school with kids every day should be on the chopping block!

Submitted by Fed Up (not verified) on December 2, 2011 8:44 am

So after five semesters, I was laid off last summer ... brought back three-and-a-half months later to teach a subject I wasn't certified in ... in a classroom of out-of-control "emotionally needy" kids who'd already driven two other instructors away and who stole my handbag and cell phone on my very first day ...to work with a principal/Ackerbot who actually has a picture of Ackerman hanging on her office wall ! ... to be told this week that I will probably be let go again due to "downsizing" so I should "start looking around" for another job.

I'm looking around, all right. As far away from this goddamn school district and the teaching profession as I can possibly get. I'm heading to Texas after Christmas to work as an admin assistant for a multi-national petroleum company, and I wish nothing but a pox upon the good folks in Harrisburg AND at 440.

Count me as just another one of that sixty-some percent who quit within the first three years of teaching.

Merry Christmas to all - and to all a goodnight!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 9:59 am

I thought if you were a classroom teacher, no layoffs right now were allowed. What subject did you teach, and how did the principal "downsize" and let you go? Curious. I can understand your frustration and disappointment (understatements, I know).

Good luck to you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:40 pm

It might have something to do with her not being assigned normally? (If the above poster is placed out certification area, etc., the principal might have done some funny business to create her position in the first place)

Submitted by Retired Teach (not verified) on December 3, 2011 7:19 am

My thoughts precisely. There is actually a great deal of this going on in school districts around the country - and as Al Jolson once said, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!" As charter schools continue to siphon off the cream of the crop (such as it is) from public schools, unless you have the sterling reputation of a McCall or a Meredith or a CAPA or a Girls High - you are going to increasingly find yourself in charge of classrooms (like this poor fed up teacher did) of "emotionally needy" kids - which, as we all know, is shorthand for "violent, disrespectful, out-of-control thugs who'll rob you blind or slit your throat the moment your back is turned." I've seen it in Detroit. I've seen it in Chicago. I've seen it in Washington, D.C. and in Baltimore. And I suspect I'll see it soon in Philadelphia, too. It is next to impossible to recruit qualified teachers for special ed/emotional support classrooms, especially at the middle and secondary levels; and it is even more difficult to get them to stay (Hmmm. I wonder why?) Anyone who's still breathing is ultimately assigned to these rooms, whether they have the right certification or not. (Apparently, this teacher did not.) THE PROBLEM COMES, in this city, at least, with entities like Michael Basch (sp?) and the Education Law Center, whose antennae are always up in search of principals like this who'll shoehorn an early childhood ed or elementary ed instructor into a secondary emotional support class. it's a big no-no, and my guess is that this principal woke up to this realization and acted pretty damn fast to protect her own butt. My sympathies to Fed Up - she has been through a helluva lot - as have you all - and though it destroys me to realize that 3/5 of this nation's teaching force run screaming for the exits after only a few years (and it gets worse between years 5 and 7), I cannot say that I blame this young lady. Indeed, I offer an apology to all young teachers today for the dreadful situations that you must face on a daily basis. Believe me, teaching was NOT like this when I started many, many moons ago. Once upon a time, it really WAS a wonderful profession.
Happy Holidays to you all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 6:36 pm

When the whole charter joke implodes--and it will, no matter how hard the pols try to protect them--the tide will again turn towards the real schools.

Submitted by Pro Public Education (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:46 pm

Exactly! Why did the teachers' union just agree to an extension of the contract, if not to protect jobs and services to children??

Submitted by By the Book (not verified) on December 3, 2011 8:52 am

Remember: you are contractually obligated to give two months notice in writing before terminating your position. You ARE legally culpable for the ramifications of your action and it IS perfectly within the rights of the Philadelphia School District to bring suit against you in a court of law for breach of contract. You are advised to read and follow the approved procedures for teacher resignation as delineated in your union handbook, or to face the consequences for failing to do so.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 11:26 am

Hi, Estelle!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 10:38 am

I resigned after being recalled and returning for three weeks. I gave one week notice and worked an additional week. I mistakenly assumed that the SDP would immediately fill the position because a few hundred people where still laid off. I told the principal I would "volunteer" during the second week to assist with the transition. I have no idea if the position was ever filled.

Can the district really afford to bring suit against anyone? Doing so costs money which we apparently do not have.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 10:08 am

I resigned after being recalled and returning for three weeks. I gave one week notice and worked an additional week. I mistakenly assumed that the SDP would immediately fill the position because a few hundred people where still laid off. I told the principal I would "volunteer" during the second week to assist with the transition. I have no idea if the position was ever filled.

Can the district really afford to bring suit against anyone? Doing so costs money which we apparently do not have.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 6:22 pm

The threat of lawsuit is basically irrelevant. They can't force you to work. All they could do would be collect any damages they incurred for finding your replacement, which are minimal, from the District's perspective, and not really worth pursuing.

The students are the ones that have real damage, but I don't know of any legal grounds they have to getting compensated by abandoning teachers. So teachers' obligation there is mostly just moral, I guess.

In most states, the main legal deterrent from breaking a teaching contract is an essentially automatic revocation of your teaching certificate. I don't know if that's the law in PA or it it's enforced, but in many states, it's basically automatic, if the District reports it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 6:36 pm

I had to leave a position once because I was literally going blind in one eye. Took the last month of the year off by using up my sick days. It was due to the stress I was put under thanks to a thievin' principal who was deliberately driving me out, She was sabotaging my class because I had blown the whistle on her about some missing EC funds. I did not claim workman's comp, but in retrospect probably should have given the hard time I got in August when I tried to return. The PFT did nothing to help when it came to that.

Submitted by J.D. (not verified) on December 5, 2011 12:12 am

You make some good points, but there is actually no such thing as an automatic revocation of certification for leaving a teaching position wherein one's safety or health (mental or physical) is in jeopardy. Any teacher who can document persistently dangerous working conditions with inadequate administrative response has little to fear. I know. I made my living at this.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 5, 2011 1:32 am

Additionally, it's pretty clear that Philly doesn't actually keep track and report people who abandon their contract since if so, every "no-show" on the first day of school who didn't resign more than 60 days before the year should be reported to the PDE.

However, since the SDP is too overwhelmed even figuring out which jobs they have available, it's apparently far beyond their capacity to actually report contract breaches. (The District seems to treat teachers about like students, disciplinarily -- constant warnings, etc., for pretty much everything, but never actually following through, unless there is other motivation).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 10:55 am

The principals should have rebelled long ago. The budgets given to almost all of the schools were meager as it was. To be asked to cut more is beyond understanding and more than insulting. If they (the principals) don't finally push back after the bullying they took for the last 3 years, there is something wrong... and I would say that not even the principals "care about the children" or what happens to them. I think it's time for abject honesty. If the situation is really dire, then cuts must be asked for in the positions that have not been important to the functioning of SCHOOLS themselves. If they are still all just "playing politics" then shame on them for bringing the schools (which means children) into their mess. Lay off some of the big-wigs who helped to cause this disgrace.

Submitted by Pro Public Education (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:12 pm

Hear! Hear! You know who's going to make out with this (besides Arlene Ackerman!)?..... Educational Management Organizations who take SDP dollars for charter schools, but who still aren't subject to the same scrutiny as public schools, e.g. "counsel children out", require parental and student compliance for attendance, behavior, PSSA scores, etc. to remain in the school --- not to mention the newest Conservative scam of Vouchers (which PA voters have rejected several times). But greed rules. The US now worships those who make money by espousing "equality for students", while really lining the pockets of EMO managers. Consider this: what made the Founding Fathers' vision of democracy a revolutionary idea, was equality based on an INFORMED and EDUCATED CITIZENRY.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 6:12 pm

You're preaching to the choir. TOTAL B.S.--Charters and Vouchers--scams to make the rich, richer at the expense of the poor. What else is new??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 8:07 am

It's not real--it's another political gimmick like ending full day Kindergarten. ALL CRAP all the time. Ackermania 101 again.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 1, 2011 10:13 pm

This is so insulting to the kids of Philadelphia. Ackerman gets almost a million to leave and now $2000 a month to sit on her royal throne at home. The District is so far in debt because of her frivolous spending and poor management, or no management. She should be in jail for how she left this District. Who is really fighting for the kids or even cares. So where is the other 30 million going to come from if they are only getting only 10 million from the schools. Shameless. No less than 39 million. It is criminal that they don't even know the actual number they are short.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 1, 2011 11:27 pm

The amazing thing is that the district can find the money for pointless crap like Corrective Reading/Math or Do Nows, but not nurses. How about canceling Student Net which the district is forcing down students' throats in an effort to justify its original purchase? Whole class are being forced onto the Internet to log onto to Student Net to make it look like it's in high demand. Nobody is being given the choice to do it, but ordered. What lunkhead bought that farce?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 1, 2011 11:06 pm

You can bet it was a hookup of some sort. My problem, far and away, is CORBETT. We need to demand more money for our schools, too much talking and moaning, NOT enough DOING as in action and force and anger, real anger, making demands etc. Yes, Ackerman was a farce, bought and paid for by folks above Corbett. She did exactly what she did in San Francisco so NOBODY should have been surprised. She'll be working again next year doing the same thing wherever she is. Corbett is about destruction of the inner cities, bought and paid for by slithering types like the Koch Bros. We, in the inner city, need to band together and grow a pair. This has to stop by any means necessary.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 6:23 am

Wonder how many PA educators voted for Corbett and all of the other Republicans that took control of Harrisburg in 2010? Hmmm.... It was clear during their campaigns what they, ESPECIALLY Corbett, were going to do. Hopefully, he's a one-term governor (his approval rating is down), however, it's only been one year with him......imagine what the next three years will be like. Funny, it's another "Imagine 2014".....

Submitted by Pro Public Education (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:23 pm

Too true!!! However, Dems need to object, not join in the feeding frenzy for their own interests.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:06 pm

You're right, the dems should be ashamed too. I couldn't agree more and Obama himself may be the biggest disappointment. Now, he's sucking up to unions etc. What a punk!!

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on December 3, 2011 1:47 pm

Obama sucking up to unions? Are you out of your mind?
Obama, and pretty much all of them r's or d's, does not matter, suck up to the rich. And as long as we all suck up to them, sit on our butts, and wait for our turn to be kicked out of the job, the ship will continue to sink.
General Strike is the only answer. But with people like you who think that supporting unions is a bad thing, there is no way anything can ever get better.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 3:31 pm

You have me confused with someone else. NOBODY is more militant than I and agree that AT LEAST, a general strike is long overdue. I'm the one who routinely post--By any means necessary. However, I do think OBama is NOW in crunch time trying to pander to his base--the unions and poor etc. We should NOT be fooled--that was my point. I'm ready with my pitchfork and torch. As disappointing as Obama has been, imagine what Cain or Bachmann would do as President.

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on December 3, 2011 3:28 pm

I don't get it? Obama pandering to unions and poor? Which planet are you from? You really think that poor are our enemy? How rich are you? How far are you from going broke?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 4:12 pm

????? Are you trolling, not listening or playing? Obama IS now trying to pander to the unions--read the Internet. My point is that now that he HAS to, to be reelected, he's returning to his base for support. I'm not rich, I teach also in the schools and voted for a democrat every time for 40 years and will again, not because I am enamored of Obama but rather the alternative is unthinkable. I'm likely more disgusted with Obama than you, yourself. I am all for "Whatever is necessary" to regain our rights as people. Now, if you don't get this, I shan't answer your post again--with all due respect since I shall have concluded that thou are either trolling or playing. I likely was marching for civil rights causes before you were born.

Submitted by tom-104 on December 3, 2011 6:37 pm

"Anonymous", just a suggestion. You should choose an alias (such as "By Any Means Necessary" and register an account under that alias. "Anonymous" is used by many people. It is OK for one message, but not if you want an online identity. If you want to have an ongoing identity on the site you need an ID so regulars can follow your train of thought.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 6:30 pm

Thank You, Tom--104. I shall try to do that but my computer skills are less than good---MUCH less but I shall give it the old college try.

Submitted by tom-104 on December 3, 2011 10:08 pm

Just click on the Login/Register button at the top, far left and follow the directions. In the future click on it to login using the ID and password you gave yourself. Any message you post will be under your ID rather than "Anonymous".

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 9:19 am

Thanks, Tom 104.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 7:42 am

I totally agree. Elections count !!!. At least he didn't lie as Walker did. Bottom line is we, the people, need to regain our rights or the corporations will call all the shots again as they had before unionization. Corbett said he was going to destroy us and he has, big money is happy and isn't that what counts?? Also, anybody who really think the US is broke, is beyond silly. Wall Street is richer now than ever so whose broke??? It's all too horrible and we need to stop it or we're dead.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 7:46 am

The Principal with tears in his eyes needs to grow a pair. We need to demand our rights from carpetbaggers like Corbett or it will only get worse in the inner cities. We have met the enemy and it is we for being far too placid. This is our survival--time to get ugly.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 2:43 pm

I am no Corbett fan but why would you call him a carpetbagger when he has lived in PA all his life?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 4:28 pm

Bad choice of words, my bad. How about, racist, bought and paid for thug, is that better ??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:57 pm

Corbett is awful, but your criticism of him will be much better if they are substantive and specific rather than just general buzz words.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:03 pm

How about bigoted scum bag ?? Is that specific enough ?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:39 pm

That's still not specific. I'm not a fan of Corbett. I think he's an awful governor with policies that hurt basically everyone in the state, except for a select few.

That being said, it doesn't do any good to just call names.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:16 pm

Believe me, Skippy, I am MORE than ready to do the dirty work, Do you know what his policies actually are?? Sounds as if you don't. A full 47% of voters are happy with him now. In any case, how about, fascist, cold blooded numb nut ?? I'd add anal retentive nincompoop but that's reserved for someone else.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:02 pm

Um, if you are trying to build allies in the future, I'd recommend you avoid calling people names and insulting their intelligence when they actually agree with you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 6:29 pm

If you agree with me, I better rethink my position. Get some sleep, Sally.

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on December 3, 2011 1:09 pm

You've got one ally here.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 1:27 pm

I have a solution we have a assistant principal at our school, Randolph, who never gets to work on time. We start at 7:30 am she gets here around 7:45 am and signs in at 7am everyday. Absolute, nothing happens to those in "authority". Let's start with those who are stealing money from the district!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 5:11 pm

This is disgrace. Did the Principal ever handle this? Will the asst. principal be docked pay. Will there be an investigation into this matter. I think you should record the time the asst principal is coming in via video and send it to the news papers and news stations!! If this person is allowed to to do this every teacher in the district should be allowed to come in at least 15 minutes after scheduled arrival. Perhaps I will give a call to Dave Shatwieser on 29 who does investigatory news. Thats see if less the asst principal salary will help YOUR schools budget. So Sad!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 5:37 pm

I hope someone is doing an investigation. Why is it the higher ups are allow to do as they see fit and what ever they please, yet they maintain their position of "authority" with pay and benefits. Who is the asst. principal at Randolph?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 10:29 pm

okay, my people said i can't say anthing negative. The Assistant Prinicipal is Ms. Natasha Cox.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 10:58 pm

does she still have her job or will she be behind Estelle?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 16, 2011 12:27 am

always the adminstration that gets the benefits never the acutal workers. so tired of hearing of persons making that kind of money and still stealing from the system. people take a look and at your elected officials too.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 10:57 pm

do the homework on her

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 10:51 pm

Wait this is the same Assistant principal of Rhodes high school. what happened

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 10:24 pm

Sorry Rhodes HS for Girls on 29th street. Why is not there anymore?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 11:01 pm

i think, always talk with the principalll

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 11:09 pm

She was at Douglas Elementary. Maybe not the most friendly but okay i guess.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 20, 2011 8:46 am

I know Natasha Cox and know her to be very business like and fair. She follows the instruction of her boss and passes it on. No she won't come up to you and ask "how's the family and how's your dog or,did you get a new car"but if you go to her with a actual problem she will help you work it out. I've been handed the white envelop by her and she was wright because I didn't do what I was supposed to do so I can't be mad about that. As for her comings and goings I can't comment because I'm doing my job and not watching her.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 10:06 pm

okay this person may be wrong but what about the principal? what are they doing?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 11:47 pm

I can't speak for the asst principal but i can say the principal was the same principal at my son's school if not for him i think my son would have chosen the wrong road in life. He is a great mentor to young men. Mr. Daryl Overton is the principal. who cares about the asst. principal. just ask for the principal he will take care of parents and your kids.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 11:29 pm

daryl oveton of fitzsimons he is a good man and loves the kids. not his fault. look at the asstisstant primpicpal.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 15, 2011 5:59 pm

Does your district office know of this? I know it is Linda Cliatt-Wayman. Does she know

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 3:31 pm

This is not directly relevant, but I need to reach out to other teachers in the district. Today I was shoved by a student in my high school. I filed the appropriate paperwork, told the administration I did not intend to press charges, and left early. They were nice enough to cover my remaining classes.

The problem is that the most common response from the administration was "What did you do to provoke this?" This is a school where the union members have meet with the administration explicitly telling them that the teachers did not feel safe in their classrooms. The response was a handbook telling teachers they ought to have better classroom management.

I called my union representative when I got home, and was told that she could have a meeting with the administration if and only if I had completed every piece of paperwork perfectly and done everything possible to improve my classroom management.

I'm definitely quitting. There's not a chance I will stay in a situation like this. I'm lucky in that I have the ability to do that financially right now. My concern is for all the other teachers who are in this situation and cannot leave. I'm looking for any advice about what I should do or who I should talk to in order to force the administration to take safety seriously. This is not the first violent incident against school personnel, but I'd like to do everything in my power to make it the last.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 3:34 pm

The PFT should have offered to fill out the paper work and then gone to administration. If the union is this weak, then the administration will never do the right thing.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:20 pm

Sounds like the PFT. It's not necessary that they are "weak." It's what they choose to really fight.

Remember in 2009 when the District sent out those (totally legal, though basically meaningless) individual contracts, and the PFT through a public hissy fit over a piece of formal paperwork? That was the worst example in recent memory of the PFT using it's "power" to irritate district leadership without actually getting anything that benefits teachers or students. (I'm not an Ackerman fan, but why the union was opposing the District efforts to get paperwork in line by asking teachers to do something that's expected of teachers in the vast majority of districts, nationwide).

Or the posturing on the last Contract? Where the PFT tried to make it sound like the District was going to slash benefits and pay for everyone unless they stepped in to oppose them?

So when it's a big public political matter the PFT makes a bunch of noise and enforces the Contract when they need to to stay in line with the traditional union values and political thing (i.e. to protect seniority, benefits, compensation).

But try to get the PFT to help with either real professional development or substantive working conditions issues? Not a finger lifted.

Unfortunately, the building level's not necessarily any better. My rep would badger the principal all day about teacher dress code and counting the minutes on prep time during testing or Parent-Teacher conference days. Then when some teachers proposed some attempt at collaboration on a substantive education issue, like school climate or curriculum building, the rep changed the subject back to planning for the holiday party.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 7:51 pm

did you actually read that contract they mailed you to sign? a bunch of confusing legal gobbledygook that only a fool would sign without first obtaining legal counsel to parse the clauses. the pft was absolutely right to protest that letter and the roundabout way adminiistration tried to foist it on individuals without access to a legal review.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:10 pm

PRESS CHARGES AND FOLLOW THROUGH no matter how much the school wants you to keep quiet. The only way to deal with attacks is police involvement and following through 100%.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:25 pm

Philly has a big problem with administrators who don't know the difference between classroom management and school climate.

It's great when teachers have the classroom management skills to make their classroom a space where respect, etc. thrive, and teachers certainly play a role in establishing the climate of a school. BUT, it should not be the case that teacher must be exemplary classroom managers to avoid assault.

In a school with proper climate, even weak teachers don't get shoved. Their class might not learn much and be generally chaotic, but physical assault isn't a classroom management issue.

To classify these extreme misbehaviors as classroom management issues is really disrespectful to students, too. It implies that the students will engage in violent acts unless properly "managed."

Too much side conversation, cell phone use (to an extent), bad language, etc. can all be farily classified as classroom management issues (depending on the situation). Physical assault can't. Ever.

Until the School District of Philadelphia understands that Philly students should not have a different standard of conduct than students in other districts, it will be difficult to place the primary focus on the district on academics. (And it's more about tone and culture than punishment -- if you set the tone as a District, that violence is truly not tolerated, in a respectful and clear way -- you will have far fewer cases to punish.)

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on December 2, 2011 10:53 pm

You are right, school climate and classroom management are two different issues. They go together, but the administrators set the tone for school climate. If they cannot do that, they should not be principals. No one should ever have to be assaulted on the job!

Submitted by Andrew Saltz (not verified) on December 3, 2011 10:15 am

Agree

Submitted by Christy (not verified) on December 2, 2011 8:08 pm

Physical assault is against the law. What if students provoked us would that make it okay? Press charges and send your story to every news outlet in the city and beyond.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 3:50 pm

Yes, as I've said in the past, the only real way to stop assaults or even threats of assaults, is to go DIRECTLY to the Phila. Police. Ignore the Principal and his/her underlings, including school police, and call the real cops. Then, INSIST that they arrest the kid or kids or you will call their boss. The point is you have to stop it yourself COMPLETELY or it will only continue. Even the thug kids will think twice before going there if they KNOW they will be dealt with not through the school but through the courts. Not that all the kids are thugs, of course, but the ones who are will think real hard before going there again............at least with YOU which is all you can control.

Submitted by Andrew Saltz (not verified) on December 3, 2011 10:28 am

I'm a (new) building rep. There are a few things you should do, as mentioned by others.

Your building representative is wrong. You should call your regional rep and request a meeting (if that has not already been done). You can also contact some higher-ups at the PFT to see if they can help.

You should tell the school officer, not the principal, that you intend to press charges. (It's a bummer you said at the time you didn't want to, but I'm pretty sure you can still take action). Be sure to get/keep copies of all paperwork.

Your teachers may want to consider talking to parents. Parents are, sadly, much better received on these issues than teachers. If that doesn't work, document everything and go to the media (Kristen Graham at the Inquy isn't a bad place to start). If you have a dedicated group of parents and teachers who are upset about safety, you can make some waves.

If you are going to quit, be sure to do what a previous poster said (do it correctly). Burn all your sick/personal days as well.

While this has little to do with your situation: I've known teachers whose management strategy is to provoke incidents with students. The student is removed and they get to take time off. It's despicable (and it doesn't seem like you are of that ilk), but it happens.

Submitted by Seen it All (not verified) on December 3, 2011 11:27 am

Hello, Andrew:

I agree with much of what you say, but I think you're naieve if you're under the impression that a teacher in a dangerous/miserable classroom situation is going to give notice and put herself in harm's way for two more months NO MATTER WHAT the damned contract says. When a teacher is so pushed to the wall that she's ready to quit, the legalities of the contract count for jack. If the District attempts to sue, that teacher can simply go to court (and the media) and recount the long laundry list of atrocities she is forced to face from day-to-day, and the failure of administration (and the union) to act on these. I can't imagine the SDP (or the union) wanting to air its dirty linen in public in this manner. Trust me, it would be a welcome relief to both parties just to have that teacher disappear.

Submitted by Andrew Saltz (not verified) on December 3, 2011 12:03 pm

Seen it all,

You're right - the contract SHOULD "count for jack". And the teacher above could argue that and quit; I wouldn't blame that teacher for never coming back.

But I'm not a lawyer, and my layman's understanding says that the teacher will face consequences if they don't follow procedure. CYA and all.

Submitted by Anon and anon (not verified) on December 3, 2011 1:09 pm

I'm so sorry that this happened to you. No, I'm sorry that this violence and violation was perpetrated upon you. It didn't just "happen."

Your issue is related to the topic--which is budget cuts. With drastically fewer people to monitor halls and common areas, larger class sizes, and more stressed out, over-burdened staff, the thugs in every school are able to continue and even escalate their reigns of terror.

However, budgets are only part of the equation. Home life and neighborhood life are huge factors as well. How do you fix a culture? Most students have no idea what 'respect' really means--they think it means being able to exert your violent will on anyone that crosses your path.

No one who has been in a Philly school will wonder why you are leaving. Good luck.

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on December 3, 2011 2:17 pm

Talking about respect.
Here is an excerpt from the "Discipline policy" put together by the administration of the school, where the assaulted teacher works (I recognized the teacher from the description of the incident).

"The following is a list of behaviors that will enhance your relationships with students and help to promote a positive learning environment.
1. Respect all students at all times. You must earn their respect. It does not come with your position. Give respect even when the student is not acting in a respectful manner. " and so on...
It won't be bad, if they did not print out the paper, and handed it to the students. Since then I constantly hear in my classroom that I have to respect them, no matter what they do.
The school is a total mess from the beginning of this year. In addition to the lack of NTAs, the administration is not willing to hold students accountable for anything they do. A couple of days ago another teacher was punched in the face, and the administrators' response was the same: "What did you do to provoke him?"
Unfortunately teachers at our school seem to be willing to support each other, and stand up to the administration

Submitted by Fed Up Too (not verified) on December 3, 2011 3:28 pm

MY GOD! THIS IS HORRENDOUS!!! I'd have thrown that paper right in the principal's face with one well-chosen suggestion as to where he/she could shove it, and I'd have walked right out the front door. Living on skid row has GOT to be better than this demeaning b.s. I can't tell you how sorry I am for you and your colleagues. This must annihilate your self-respect on a daily basis. But it tragically confirms what I've always felt about working for this lousy school district. A million pardons for my vulgarity, but it's just like copulating with a porcupine. It's always a million pricks against one.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 5:37 pm

I agree about copulating with a porcupine. It ain't fun except for the viewers who pay to see it. Not that I would, of course. That's my story and I'm stickin to it.

The S.D. will NOT file suit against a teacher who quits for cause. They're corrupt but not stupid. They know the press will hammer them every chance it gets so bad PR is the ultimate enemy next to a civil suit for damages. I've known teachers who get "Injured" on the job and collect disability for as long as possible. In any case, I agree totally that you need to call the popo immediately and wait for them to arrive. Demand action. If that doesn't happen, call the TV folks, In short, you go all in 100% and NEVER back down until the kid is GONE or dealt with legally NOT through the school. At that kind of point, it's a war you MUST win or it will occur over and over and.....

Submitted by youngphillyteacher (not verified) on December 3, 2011 4:47 pm

I meant, teachers at our school do NOT stand up for each other.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 6:15 pm

Tell the administrators you intend to contact The Press, The Attorney General, The Department of Education, Sen. John Taylor, etc. about this assult and their lack of response if they do not do something immediately. If they dare to insinuate that it's your fault again tell them the same thing. It's time for the guilttripping incompetants to stop trying to silence teacher.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 3:56 pm

I have a suggestion-CUT the budget by reducing summer school hours and not making it mandatory for those who have not failed. 8-12 and only for those who need to make up work.

Submitted by Christy (not verified) on December 2, 2011 8:29 pm

Students who fail should have to pay for summer school.

Submitted by Timothy Boyle on December 2, 2011 5:54 pm

 I propose a Rally Against Austerity next SRC meeting, December 14th. We should get every union in town in front of 440. These cuts are not sustainable. Not until 32BJ, CASA, PFT, and school police are united against these cuts, along with our school communities at large, will anything change. We can not expect piecemeal donations like Ryan Howard's to be funding streams. We got hundreds of people out against Ackerman, it time to get thousands out against austerity. 

Submitted by Pro Public Education (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:05 pm

I like your plan. We need to publicly challenge the double-speak of politicians, both local and state, who do not find a way to actually support public education and not just posture about it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 10:00 pm

My students are studying school budget cuts this year as a social issue. Any suggestions on who my students should speak to or how I can go about leading them to make a difference without losing my job?

Submitted by Ms. Cheng (not verified) on December 4, 2011 6:37 am

I too like the idea. How about we also demand that the District regather their WSF Committee (predominantly principals) and spend the same number of months that was spent working on a WSF budget, to work on a better plan than to cut ELL, Psychologists, Nurses, Instrumental Music, Athletics, etc... outright? Let's be a little smarter/more effective than the "Occupy" movement.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 5:13 pm

I am an ESL teacher who was brought back from layoff one week ago. I have so many students in my class it is impossible for them to learn. They're too many different levels of students to design effective instruction for all. I assume I will be laid off again. Less than a month after I was called back. Wonder why they even called me back? Why doesn't anybody seem to know what they are doing? Wouldn't they know two weeks ago about this budget deficit and not recall laid-off teachers? But the worse thing is that these 27 students will now have no ESL instruction. Complete prejudice against a group of people without the language skills to realize what's happening and fight against it. How can the district discriminate against a group of students like this?

Submitted by SuperTeacher (not verified) on December 2, 2011 6:48 pm

I don't think teachers can be laid off at this point in the school year. I think cuts are operational in other areas. At least that is what my principal told me. My position is funded by Title I funds. You may want to check.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 6:15 pm

The cuts are from the operational budget so Title I, III, etc. positions aren't going to be cut. I assume cuts will come from EC and possibly "non required" teaching positions such as art and music. Nurses are being cut. It is a mess.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 7:34 pm

Actually look at the end of the article; it specifically mentions cuts to English language services. Check out this link on page 30: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/uploads/_B/ac/_Bac1UNXrcLwa_7pPan17A/11-10... $1.3 million dollars cut in ELL instruction.

Budget Adjustments to Close the Remaining Gap:
8 Reduce school budgets by an additional 1% - $10M in non-personnel bgts. unobligated as of early October $10.0
9 Reduce Prof Dev Bgt - extra pay to veteran teachers not needed to serve as new teacher coaches (few new teachers this yr) $1.3
10 Adjustments in Central Office Allocations to Schools:
11 - ELL Instruction $1.3
12 - Psychologists $0.6
13 - Instrumental Music $0.3
14 - Athletics $0.3
15 - Educational Technology $0.1
16 - Bilingual Counseling Assistants $0.1
17 Adjustments to Central Allocations to Schools - Total $2.6
18 Other Adjustments - Net $2.8
19 Additional Budget Adjustments to Close the Remaining Gap - Total $16.7
20 Adjustments with Positive Impact on the FY12 Budget Gap - Total $109.6

It really is unfair to bring back teachers for one month; but it is especially unfair to take away instruction from students who need it most. It is plain discrimination to a group of students and parents who may not realize what is going on, and/or do not have the language skills to protest. It is a shame there is not an advocate for this group of students.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 7:03 pm

Actually look at the end of the article; it specifically mentions cuts to English language services. Check out the PDF document titled, Page 30:

School District Philadelphia
Fiscal Year 2010-11
(July 2010 – June 2011)
Year-End Financial Report
Fiscal Year 2011-12
(July 2011 – June 2012)
Budget Update
October 26, 2011

It specifically mentions $1.3 million dollars cut in ELL instruction. Here’s what it says.
Budget Adjustments to Close the Remaining Gap:
8 Reduce school budgets by an additional 1% - $10M in non-personnel bgts. unobligated as of early October $10.0
9 Reduce Prof Dev Bgt - extra pay to veteran teachers not needed to serve as new teacher coaches (few new teachers this yr) $1.3
10 Adjustments in Central Office Allocations to Schools:
11 - ELL Instruction $1.3
12 - Psychologists $0.6
13 - Instrumental Music $0.3
14 - Athletics $0.3
15 - Educational Technology $0.1
16 - Bilingual Counseling Assistants $0.1
17 Adjustments to Central Allocations to Schools - Total $2.6
18 Other Adjustments - Net $2.8
19 Additional Budget Adjustments to Close the Remaining Gap - Total $16.7
20 Adjustments with Positive Impact on the FY12 Budget Gap - Total $109.6

It really is unfair to bring back teachers for one month; but it is especially unfair to take away instruction from students who need it most. It is plain discrimination to a group of students and parents who may not realize what is going on, and/or do not have the language skills to protest. It is a shame there is not an advocate for this group of students.

Submitted by Herewegoagain (not verified) on December 2, 2011 8:26 pm

I love how the district is passing the buck. Principals now have to make serious decisions after a lot of the money has been spent. Now when parents complain, they don't have to take the brunt. Classic. Children first- right? I am so tired of this nonsense. I used to be proud to teach in this district, now I am disgusted. It started the minute Ackerman was hired. We knew her track record in San Fran. It has been downhill since and I have a feeling it isn't getting any better anytime soon.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2011 10:25 pm

This is crazy. At this point, all union brothers and sisters must rally together. Together in numbers we can make changes that will benefit all. Stop pointing fingers and begin to ban together. United We Stand, United We FALL

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 6:33 pm

NO--United we won't fall. I totally agree with your premise--the workers must band together. Our collective survival is at stake. FIGHT !!

Submitted by Carol Jackson (not verified) on December 3, 2011 8:55 am

The budget should have been cut at 440 for Deputies and Deputy Chiefs who have multiple secretaries and multiple Special Assistants (SPAS). It is a travesty to watch them sit all day and play on IPhones or at the computers all day surfing the web. YES it does occur.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 5:07 pm

GET RID OF THE PROMISE ACADEMIES-----WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY! SAVE JOBS AND OFFER A QUALITY EDUCATION TO OUR STUDENTS (WITHOUT PUTTING A "BOW" ON THE SCHOOL, IN THE HOPES THAT THINGS WILL ONLY "LOOK" BETTER!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 6:15 pm

I couldn't agree more. The worrying about appearances both externally and internally have impeded, and still impedes effective work. Right on with your comment!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 6:13 pm

Sorry about the grammar: it should be "has impeded", not "have impeded".

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 7:48 pm

I agree -- and I work at one! It's all for show -- walls, lesson plans, CSAP forms, data rooms, portfolio files, endless walk through visits -- ALL for show. And the day is too long -- the kids cut the last periods in droves anyway. It's not worth the cost. We'd do better to take the money being spent on the extra time and hire more people (reduce the student/adult ratio.)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2011 6:22 pm

Besides being what should be a well known Ackerman word by now, "unconscionable" these proposed cuts border on criminality. I sat in on a Facilities Master Plan session run by well dressed and well versed facilitators, and found myself wondering why this session was being held when all the groups had only the familiar well worn suggestions as to what they considered a school needed: Art, Music (especially Instrumental Music), Athletics, School Nurses, Conflict resolution, etc... ELL too. Now it looks like the suggestions that were gathered are not only being ignored, but outright violated.

How about the months, money and time spent on implementing a WSF system? The conclusion was that large schools ended up with far more money than they needed to operate on and that small schools ended up with too little, so a correction had to be factored in leaving them...pretty much where they were to begin with - what a surprise! Why is this time and care not being taken to work out a solution that will minimize the pain and consequences of bad planning? Check out what the Mayor of Redondo Beach did: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/01/138796548/redondo-beach-unusual-leadership... But it seems that the SDP is a headless "monster".

Billy Beane's (Oakland Athletics) wisdom in not hiring a superstar that would leave the team with less than what it needed to operate must be remembered in looking for the next superintendent. And it should be remembered we are a team.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 2:18 pm

Why isn't a more comprehensive analysis being made into the gross amount of money being wasted on the Promise Academies? The extra hour per day is not being utilized effectively as students are leaving the building on a daily basis well before 4 p.m. How come more candid questions are not being asked (of the students and teachers) as to how well these Promise Academies are being received?
The exhorbitant amount of work being placed on teachers is doing everything but allowing them to teach effectively. The school year is not even half over and teachers are "burnt-out" "disillusioned" and very scared. What I find to be amusing is the fact that we have taken from our schools "the art" of using cursive handwriting. Yeah, didn't ya know, that's not really necessary. But TEACHING KNITTING as an ENRICHMENT CLASS IS? How about offering enrichment to those students that are failing in particular content area subjects---that they do direly need in order to graduate! What about giving extra support to those students that are not native speakers of English, and would greatly benefit from this extra enhancement in order to become proficient in reading, writing and speaking English.
Stop worrying about how "good it looks". When a school is already effective, there is no need for this type of worry........it speaks for itself. Perhaps then the AP's will stop clamoring and badgering the teachers to "do more" when they realize that this PA "school of thought" is a gross misappropriation of time that could be used for teachers to "hone their craft" in their content area subjects!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 2:21 pm

How right you are! I am a new ESOL teacher in a Promise Academy. I will probably be laid off again. My classes are huge. Yet, all sort of silly things are 'taught' in enrichment when these ESOL students coould benefit from extra instruction. Or maybe the money should be spent so that there are enough ESOL teachers so that classes do not need to be so large.

Submitted by Mayday (not verified) on December 4, 2011 5:32 pm

Redundant administrators need to be eliminated. For one example: there is an Executive Director for Counseling and Promotion Standards, a Director of Counseling and Promotion Standards, and a Deputy Chief of Counseling and Promotion Standards... ;-) Other than composing the occasional email demanding more pointless paper and proof of student log-ins to studentnet, it's clear as mud what they do all day. They certainly do not support counselors, nor set foot in a school to see what counselors really do. All three are making upwards of $150K a year. One person would suffice.

Submitted by Science Teacher (not verified) on December 4, 2011 6:01 pm

Perhaps they can use my (less-than-enormous) salary to defray the costs of paying these deadweight administrators. They're welcome to it. I'm giving notice this week and I'm quitting at Christmas. I've had more than my fill of this toxic school district - nothing in the world is worth the stress and the toll it's taking on my mental and physical health. I'm returning to parochial school teaching - half the salary, maybe, but at least I don't dread each weekday's sunrise. Best of luck to the unbelievably violent madhouse I'm escaping in locating a certified science teacher willing to work there. Then again, as I'm the third teacher this weekend posting a resignation notice on this site, I'm sure the SDP will be thrilled to pieces. Now they'll have enough money to hire another administrator.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2011 8:29 pm

Yes, all this numb nuts do is walk through schools, finding fault in all directions. Most, if not all of them, can;t find their way home in the dark and all of them wouldn't make it one day. I heard their salaries were so high and I couldn't believe it. The Peter Principle at work as they say.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 5, 2011 8:18 pm

Well, is it true that schools may not have but ( 1 ) PRINCIPAL and no other
principal? This would help the budget by having one principal.

Let's try it for 4 years. Ok?

Submitted by Sovereign (not verified) on December 6, 2011 9:52 am

The schools in the UK suffered from drastic budget cuts at the beginning of this year. What these 'stuffed suits' dont realise is that recreational equipment is always the first department to suffer. This leads to less exercise/raise in obesity. We should be looking after our children, they are our future after all!

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