I guess everyone in this forum has his own favorite hobby horse he likes to ride hard. Dom has heavy books; Paul has disruptive classrooms; and I have the Vast OVERFUNDING of schools. The main difference between me and the rest, I think, is that in all other cases we all mainly agree about the central problems but we differ about the solutions. For instance, we all agree that, with rare exceptions, math education in the public schools is mainly bad and we all agree that this is a serious problem, but we disagree about how to cure the problem.
School funding is a horse of a different color. It is broadly accepted that schools are underfunded. I have been arguing that this general consensus does not stand even cursory observation, to say nothing of close scrutiny.
I have argued that there are several ways to see that the problem in the schools is not, by any measure, underfunding. I have used measures such as
(a) international comparisons, (b) economic studies, (c) operating budgets of states and municipalities, (d) Labor Dept. statistics
Today, I offer as yet more evidence a remarkable item from the New York Times. Seems that NYC has been squandering $20-$40 million every year, for decades. Gentle friends, such a thing is not possible in a regime of scarcity. Such a thing is possible only when bureaucracies lack any perception of a need for fiscal control and supervision. They can lack this perception only because they are wallowing in an ocean of taxpayers' money.
If money really were tight, they would be watching their pennies. In reality, NYC has been squandering in this case (and who knows how many other such cases there may be) tens of millions of dollars, for years, and they don't even miss it. Even as we speak, their solution has not been to take care; rather, by means of the courts, they have been mugging the state for BBBillions more dollars (see Campaign For Fiscal Equity http://www.cfequity.org/)
Haim Je me souviens ----------------------------------
"They said, 'Gee, have you ever thought about this?' and we said, 'No, what a good idea.' "
October 6, 2006 City Schools Find Millions in the Bus Rides Not Taken By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein announced yesterday that the New York City school system has been spending $20 million a year or more to provide bus services for children who do not actually use them.
Officials in the chancellor?s office said the unnecessary transportation expenses were identified by Alvarez & Marsal, a private consulting firm that is being paid $17 million to examine the school system?s budget and financial operations.
To halt the waste, officials said, the city is requiring for the first time that the children who are eligible for bus service must register for it. In addition, bus companies would be paid only for children who actually ride buses. Children who receive free public transportation must also register to receive MetroCards. The deadline to register is today; the registration period began in the spring.
By taking these measures, the city would save about $20 million in busing costs and would redirect that money for use by schools, along with $10 million in cuts to school cleaning and maintenance budgets and another $10 million in savings on repairs to school buildings, city school officials said in a news release from the chancellor?s office.
But while the release trumpeted the reallocation of ?at least $40 million a year to schools,? top city education officials struggled yesterday to explain the math.
Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, who oversees the system?s finances, said she could not give an estimate of the number of students expected to decline bus services. The $20 million figure was a projection and actual savings could be higher or lower, Ms. Grimm said. The city has budgeted $1.06 billion for student transportation this fiscal year.
And Martin Oestreicher, the director of school support services, acknowledged that the proposed cut to school maintenance budgets of 3.5 percent, or about $10 million, roughly matched the money that custodians did not use in the last fiscal year.
But Mr. Oestreicher said the cuts were being made at all schools, with bigger buildings facing steeper cuts, regardless of last year?s spending. The school custodians? union said the cuts would result in more than 300 layoffs, but school officials said none would be necessary.
Officials said the $10 million in savings from school repairs would be achieved through new agreements with trade unions, including plumbers and electricians. The new deal would pay union workers 17 percent more but require them to work in the evenings after schools close. School officials said more work would get done, saving money.
?Redirecting resources to our schools allows educators to use funds to help their students succeed,? Chancellor Klein said in a statement. The chancellor?s assertion yesterday that he had identified $40 million in savings was the Education Department?s latest effort to fulfill Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg?s pledge in January to cut $200 million from the school bureaucracy and redirect it to classrooms.
In August, the chancellor?s office said it had identified $89 million in savings, mostly by cutting 328 administrative jobs. But while the mayor originally promised to cut $200 million from the bureaucracy, neither he nor Chancellor Klein had predicted cuts to school services like cleaning and maintenance.
Ms. Grimm was also at a loss to explain why city officials, during the first five years of the Bloomberg administration or in decades past, had failed to realize that millions of dollars were spent on buses for students who were not riding them.
She said the consulting firm of Alvarez & Marsal viewed the budget with fresh eyes.
?It?s one of the reasons why Joel wanted to bring these people in,? Ms. Grimm said. ?They said, ?Gee, have you ever thought about this?? and we said, ?No, what a good idea.? ?