Friday, January 21, 2011

Insider Buying in CCSD Shares

There is a very important issue that is being lost around this town recently in the school budget debate. Locally, it is not ALL about the numbers. It is not about teacher bashing over their contract. Last year during the budget development, a local resident whom I met for the first time, who is an empty nester, who loves this town and would like to remain but is at the tipping point as taxes are pushing him out told me the line I use often, "There are no bad guys here, just three parties [staff, empty nesters and parents of school kids] with a problem that needs to be solved."

The issue I have with some of the comments floating around town are that they deviate from the facts and from the human element into ad hominem attacks that are not conducive to solving problems. The way to solve our problem is for the bargaining units and the district taxpayers (BoE as proxy) to sit down as partners and find a way to help both sides. I know that just as the teachers recognize that having a great contract with a bankrupt entity is worth very little, residents should recognize that having employees that are disgruntled and with low morale is less than optimal.

The Board and the CCT have taken the first steps by agreeing to sit down and talk. While to folks like me and many of you who come from a competitive business world may not think that is such a big deal, know that it is virtually without precedent for a teacher's union to reopen an existing contract.

Knowing what I know about the way the teachers do take ownership in this district and how much they do appreciate the Board and the taxpayers not attacking them in the first few years of this contract, I am quite confident that at the end of the day, and that day is coming real soon, they will agree to compromises that will both demonstrate that they are our partners and that will help the district maintain a fiscally responsible budget. I do not think they would have agreed to talk otherwise. I hope at the conclusion of the talks, if it does indeed come to fruition, that when it is announced, that the entire community from the PTA to the NCCRE to the seniors to both the apathetic and helicopter parents, to plain old folks like you and me, recognize and appreciate it for what it is; an acknowledgement that the partnership is still intact and that the teachers are reasonable people who are willing to do what they can to help out locally.

The big disconnect for me is that I have to separate the local issues that I can control or at least effect from the State ones where I have to jaw bone and vote to influence that. As you know from your research and from David Shaw, the pension plan is a state constitutional issue that we cannot negotiate locally. What we can negotiate locally is salary, raises, steps and healthcare contribution. I know that all the local issues we can address are on the table in the discussions. I also know that the hurdle we face or the benchmark by which we can measure an agreement is out of our control. It is Triborough. We will see if we have partners if we compare it to that.

But these last three paragraphs digress from my intent of this post and the very issue that is lost. The impetus for this post was a question to the administration about teachers being able to have their kids in the district without charge. What the large number of teachers choosing to have their children educated in this district says to me is the same message I get when analyzing a stock and finding out that the insiders, the top executives are buying shares themselves with their own money. It is the insiders, the people who know what we provide and what we provide vis a vis the alternatives that are opting to bring their kids to our schools. They have a choice and chose this as the better best alternative. That says a lot. That is an endorsement you cannot buy. It is about educating our community's children, and at that we are best bar none.

JSM

2 comments:

#5 said...

Note to Patty: Thank you for reading and commenting, but I do not publish anonymous comments. I will also say that I think your analysis is incorrect in that no one would choose to take a worse education just because it is available, free or otherwise. The point of the post is that the teachers recognize and believe proven with their actions that this is a better education here in the CCSD than it is in their home district.

JSM

#5 said...

Again, I will publish comments that are properly signed, and, quite frankly, I see no reason not to stand behind whatever comment anyone wishes to make by signing their name.

If you do not wish to make a public comment but wish to have a conversation with me about this post, any post or anything in general it is easier to send me an email at comments@newcastlealternative.com. Thanks again for reading.

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