Thursday night, hundreds of people showed up for the Board of Education's public hearing on several topics, including the budget. Teachers and staff wore red, parents and supporters wore blue. Many held signs outside asking the Board not to attempt to alter the negotiated contract with teachers, claiming it wasn't funded, which isn't true. It was truly a magnificent evening of community consensus the likes of which I haven't seen since, well since April's primary.
In the aftermath Friday morning, Dr. Foose was quoted in the press saying that they never intended not to keep the teachers' contracts intact. HUH? Nevermind what they have been saying for weeks, including O'Connor's Council testimony about furloughs, and the obvious intent of the contrived survey, but what about the "talking points" on the budget which were delivered to Central Office staff and HCPSS Curriculum staff that flat out state they will try to renegotiate the union contracts because even though the salaries are funded, the benefits are not. Saying the benefits aren't funded is completely false, by the way.
Stating that something isn't funded simply because your own outrageous over-estimation of what is needed was not believed, does not equate to being unfunded. I hope the union presses this as a legal issue. I can just imagine how this would go over to a Judge. "But your Honor, we don't need to keep our end of the bargain in the contract, because we say the expenses will be higher than they are, really they will, even though we have been shown to be wildly wrong for years, they will, and thus they are, and thus they aren't funded." Let's see how that flies. Maybe O'Connor can help them out with more sourcing of themselves for their statements. "We said so, and thus it is so."
Will the Board do the right thing regarding the reality of County Executive Kittleman funding their budget? Or will they use their ridiculous, inappropriate survey (on which you can only choose what they want to cut and not their selfish perks), to supposedly justify cutting areas that are fully funded to keep their slush funds going for their pet projects and CO benefits? We shall see what the majority of the Board, including the lame ducks, decide to do with their final decisions in this year of ignoring the public to their peril. We already know what Dr. Foose wants them to do, out the other side of her mouth on Friday.
For now, here are some highlights of a most engaging evening of testimony.
Marcelino Bedolla said he was wearing black to mourn the lack of trust the County has in this Board.
Robert Miller said he was tired of seeing unproven projects given such funding priority when it was like building a plane while flying it.
Danny Mackey said that the Board's implementation of appropriate online and social media rules should be followed by them first, stating the inappropriate falsehoods that O'Connor stated in her "fact-checking" posts which used their own documents as sources for their own statements, hysterical. He mentioned the distasteful characterization as "savings" regarding fighting Special Education families in court to lessen their services.
Barb Krupiarz kept that subject going, calling O'Connor to task for posting a letter (which was addressed to me, by the way, with my home address on it) on the HCPSS website (and Ann Delacy put it on Facebook), wherein blatant libelous falsehoods were expressed about Barb's lawsuit and sanctions.
FOP police union and Fire union representatives reached out asking the Board to keep their contract with the teachers, as is appropriate. The officer pointed out that his sixth-grade son brought up that he had to obey his student/HCPSS contract so how could the Board not have to keep their contracts! Beautiful.
Leslie Kornreich pointed out many issues with budget mischaracterizations, and outright lies about taking funds out of Special Education over the years, and called out central office bureaucracy as having more layers than a Smith Island cake.
Parents spoke out about the obvious propaganda that was the survey, which was promised to include all areas of expense but only included a very limited set of expenses, obviously only where leadership wants cuts.
Paul Lemle showed the crowd historical data on how the HCPSS over-estimates expenses to get more money than they need. Yes, the teacher's union President, called out the over-estimation of their health benefit costs, to be honest and point out where money is not really needed. We can see that surpluses are not used appropriately. Projections of false deficits get them more General Fund money, which they don't need to refund when the deficits don't materialize, FYI,
My favorite "highlight" of them all? Dr. Foose's comment that 1000 people took the survey and only 18 spoke last night. hmmm... So, 1000 people who TOOK a survey (not 1000 who even AGREED with her) is so very many? Maybe only 18 people spoke but 500 were there agreeing with them, and I didn't hear one testify in support, so 18:1, go ahead and extrapolate that to the County. After all, over 1500 signed our VERY SPECIFIC sourced petition to oust her. But they are all just a small group of people, pay no attention to them? Good thing they have to pay attention to that "little group" who spoke loudly at the polls.
It is heartening to see the consensus continue behind the County's budget decisions, the union needs, and the community's support all versus the HCPSS leadership's greed.