Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Board on Mythomania's Staffing "Shell Game"

You know, with school spending budgets over $200 million these days in Downtown Edison and predominantly made up of salaries and benefits - it's important that we have collective bargaining agreements which are fair to all stakeholders and we have transparency in the reporting of staffing levels and changes thereto in the school budgets.

Recently, the collective bargaining agreements with the ETEA and the Principal & Supervisors unions were completed and, pending receipt of some documents, will share some thoughts with you on those contracts in a future post.

What's important to say now is that it's time for the Board of Mythomania to end this staffing "shell game" and be more transparent with their changes to staff, which according to their 2012-13 budget is over 1,900. What I'm talking about is this tad bit of chicanery still going on over there on Mythomania Lane:

Remember Super Dr. Richard "Build the Trust" O'Malley's pitch for increasing staff in the 2012-13 budget by 10 heads; 8 teachers, 1 guidance counselor and 1 assistant principal? According to what's reported in the 2012-13 school budget, that takes the staffing level from 1,926.0 to 1,936.0 and asked for your approval to do this by a "Yes vote on April 17 (which he got). Now, that's nice but what if you knew at the time that they already went over the current year's budget (2011-12) and added 19.5 Unbudgeted Heads to the payroll? Wouldn't that be important information for you to know and all the reasons why before you considered approving another increase of 10 heads in the 2012-13 school budget?

You bet!

Hence, the staffing "shell game" that's been going on for years over there on Mythomania Lane with their full knowledge. They purposely fail to disclose and, therefore hide, all the unbudgeted staff added to the payroll in these school budgets. Now, how are they able to add all these unbudgeted heads (and where oh where does all that money come from to do it) and we don't see it in any school budget they ask us to approve???

It's actually quite simple - you just need to know the NJDOE's Budgeting requirements. For comparison purposes with the 2012-13 school budget, the school district was required to update their 2011-12 school budget for the actual staffing as of February 1st. So, when you looked at the staffing numbers for 2012-13 and compared it with 2011-12 - you were really comparing it to something reflecting the actual for 2011-12 as of February 1st and Not the original 2011-12 school budget. Now, there's nothing wrong with this in and of itself since you were seeing how the proposed 2012-13 budget compared to something reflecting the latest actual staffing numbers - but it does leave a gaping hole in seeing the changes from the original 2011-12 school budget to February 1st - and this Board of Mythomania takes full advantage of it by Not Disclosing those Changes.

That's why when you looked at their 2012-13 budget, you only saw the staffing go from 1,926.0 to 1,936.0 for an increase of 10 heads - when the actual change from the 2011-12 budget of 1,906.5 was an increase of 29.5 heads, 19.5 being unbudgeted additions in 2011-12. They went from 1906.5 to 1,926.0 in that gaping hole from July 1, 2011 to February 1, 2012 - and never showed you that in the 2012-13 budget.

Here's the real changes and how they presented it in the 2012-13 budget:
And here's where you see the unbudgeted heads by position:

Now, what's the big deal, right? It's only 19.5 unbudgeted heads on a staffing level over 1,900, right? Well, it's only 19.5 unbudgeted heads this year - if you just go back to the 2005-06 budget with a staff level of 1,827.15 and add or subtract all the changes in staffing reported in their budget through 2011-12, you'd come out with a staffing level of 1,534.7 for a reduction in staffing of 292.45. But wait, 2011-12 actual staffing is 1,926 or 391.30 more than the 1,534.7, which reflects all the staffing changes reported in their budgets - difference being all unbudgeted staffing added to the payroll that were not disclosed to you and you never saw in any school budget they've asked you to vote on. That's an increase of some 21% in staffing from 2005-06 that was hidden from you and that's incredibly disconcerting, if not simply revolting.

Here's the breakdown by year of the unbudgeted heads:

And here's the reconciliation of the staffing level changes:
Finally, what's important to recognize is that there's nothing wrong with being fluid with the staffing requirements and needs - that's fine. What's wrong is the Board's on-going failure to to Disclose and therefore Hide what was done with the staffing from year to year in their school budget.

Time for this Board of Mythomania to put an end to this silly, deceptive and misleading game being played on the residents and taxpayers every year. It's actually quite offensive to be treated this way.

Anyhoo, is it too much to ask that we get real staffing numbers from the Board in these budgets so we can make an informed decision on any requests for additional staffing changes they wish to make - before we go into the voting booth?

Think Not!

PS - you can find the 2012-13 School Budget here and the staffing schedule on page 36. The 2011-12 School Budget is here and the staffing schedule on page 35.

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