Cleveland Hill Superintendent Jon MacSwan on school consolidation talks.mp3

WBEN Extras
Monday, April 16th

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

John I wanna get your reaction to the county executive's proposal he does something that he brought up. During his state of the county address and gave his full proposal on Monday. Merging the Cheektowaga school districts into one. What do what do you think about this. What Mike first audition this is not the first time that this had been brought up there and looked at. Torn apart. Locally or across state. It would concern me if it the first and the level and level of certainty that he demonstrated when promising taxpayer savings. The relief to meet demonstrated. A lack of a true understanding of the reorganization process. He has this idea that he wants he says that it would save its schools millions of dollars by cutting down on administrative costs. Our our yen supported the idea of him doing it. If there were going to be taxpayer savings savings in administrative costs across the board for the community I would absolutely be in favor of gas would. I expect complete little bored and problem any more involved. You know where he failed to look deeper into the reorganization process not only be administrative costs which. I would tend argue that his numbers are correct there. But T one point three million dollars here particularly didn't administrative savings costs 45 districts within Cheektowaga. He failed to note that you also have to equalize. Contracts across to labor unions in those five districts. Simply applying that. To be five districts here with in the Cheektowaga. We tell our business officials calculated in anticipation report coming out and that would be a nine point 75. Million dollar increase your one. Just play equalizing contracts across five districts in just the teachers association. Now he did say during his report that he presented to the media today that there would be some some short term cost that are are involved in it. But over the long term and the tax payers that schools could actually be saving more money because then. That extra money would then go to extra programs sold short term it could have hit but what about long term. What happens in the the typical story that happened with school organizations crossed state if you do qualify for. I can speak to the Cheektowaga approximately 125 million dollars to call reorganization incentive. That's relief front load the first five years you'd do receive. A large large on the additionally from the state that's used to number one equalize the contracts. A roster labor unions as I've articulated. The next thing is Russell look at the capital expenditures to improvement structures will bought scratches. Change buildings to meet the needs of the new district. And then what happens is that additional money starts going into taxpayer savings. Tax cuts and filling up reserves. What happens after you're five districts start to lose their reorganization and sent an aide at get 10% a year. Across the state when district city year and they're now where a larger. Entity larger school district. With equalized up contracts larger capital investment and infrastructure are still resting on the same text based that was there prior to the reorganization. What happens that as people's feet protection start to go up dramatically. And they automatically start screaming mismanagement. When you do see ghost expect your savings come initially. When you do reorganization. It is not it has nothing to do with an improvement in your efficiencies or your effectiveness. Would have to do with is you're just receiving a bunch of taxpayer dollars to state coming and that are gonna come to net. John you brought up saw a lot of things so far these you know about this proposal that the county executive has what do you think the public really needs to know about this idea of merging the school is you've gone through a lot but. Are there some other major things that people should know about those. They just need to know and they need to know what's been articulated to me that there has not banned it school reorganization or consolidations. Don't across the state. It is shall be true demonstrated taxpayer savings should be. And that this is something that if it is going to be looked at it have to be looked at. Through a wide lions and it can't be done with someone sit simply looking at it ministry of cost claiming he one point three million dollar savings. Without really taking. It's time to open up the book release seat what are what is the application of the reorganization process going to do. To be communities fox. This is a question that I posts in the county executive Jack kind of line that your idea as if by merging all of the school districts into one. Then in theory you would only have one superintendent so I mean for you personally of this idea where to go through. You know potentially you could be without a job when that the kind of a reason said not want to support the school consolidation. When I first came to Cleveland built seven years ago there was little before this first reorganization. Issue. Are first time I experienced reorganization. Issue being. Brought polite. Prior to my taking the position I did meet with the then you re one Boesky superintendent Donald will be people each aren't going to Cleveland you have to know that this is the issue that may come up and you could lead to district through reorganization. When I came to Cleveland he'll my intent ones. To lead the school district through reorganization I really felt as though that was something that. At that point because I'd listen to sound like that this can be something to be good for community good for schools system. And good for me personally it was forty year old superintendent of looking at an opportunity and I I took advantage. When I came in here and started doing research and looking at bringing in the prisoners educating my board my community to. You know what we have to look forward to the plot and irons on the school reorganization. The taxpayer savings with whichever one was looking for they were not there to be recognized and that was really the bottom line why. In 2014. When we were looking at moving forward that's all the Cheektowaga districts. Did vote their boats. Our board did vote to go forward with the reorganization consolidations study funded through state. Off at that point we apply for the grant for the study command and Weaver turned out at that point because they said that we did not show or did not demonstrate these efficiencies and effectiveness needed to receive. Okay and John last question I've got for you is the county executive today it was really stressing that a lot of the school districts. Need to make at least two years worth of enacted budgets readily available online curious how lot transparent the budget is for Cleveland L. I'd like to bleed to transparency can possibly be calm. I believe I our website at our web site dubbed camp rhino law last year's budget pitchers budget and the one here purples and I say that. I was shocked when I heard some of Islam. Concerns over transparency. I bet that it shocked because I would like this superb believe that the school budget development process and boating process is really one of the most transparent there aren't. The democratic side. I don't think he specifically called out your school as one of those ones that are being transpire I could be wrong in it but Aaron we wanted to. Okay with these other schools though do you think that they should really trying to make it more improved. It'll not knowing what they do in their efforts panel hearing the county executive editor I'm really not comfortable. Commenting on the other districts are doing at this time I. I was shocked to see any of that and I'm you know there may be oversight so mistakes stumble probably than anyone intentionally being anything last transparent but I. I can't speak to any veto. A few minutes after we concluded our conversation mixed one called back and this is what he said. So the trick is you are finished your last question about what I would do superintendent. They did reorganized or consultants school districts. I was talking about what got us to this point we export ever did happen. I think he talked to superintendent you don't really get in super tendency thinking you know longevity war. Job security so to speak. We averaged 34 years I think in the district superintendents I think the average crops status. I worked for bored at work for community if he chose to go another direction different superintendent. Or the reorganization and consolidation districts that that's my responsibility to carry that forward so it is hard to be clear that that relief. The superintendent input on what our thoughts are in this reorganization. Really comes third fourth or fifth to outline. Released the first community in the school board that they're the ones that largely. Make these decisions. OK so if you think that's the general consensus among most superintendent that hey you know formally under this or four years. If they want consolidate alternately that's what's best for the kids all around with a. I can't speak terrible other super posadas superintendent and if your superintendent large district reorganization consolidation is not something that is discussed. I think return and small district. But that is something that. You have heard. So I I would say mean. It just they think it's just. The understanding of the nature and superintendents. You work for aboard. All my job when we first visited this was to provide my board investment community with. Accurate detailed information about how would this impact us as we went through this in 2014. That is where. The tight turns significantly away from school reorganization and consolidation here. Is being a superintendent a full time job or you do something else. Old no I don't know it's it's full time okay. Yeah. Yeah I mean I average probably had a good week fifty hours we commit immediately at 730. By 430 usually two to three late nights and meeting this past Saturday at work to. You know so yeah it's. It's it's it's more than a full time job. Sure and if you don't mind me asking this you know if if for whatever reason those and if it actually does happen the schools consolidate I mean. If you're the superintendent a school obviously year you're somebody who you know is higher up in the community is it difficult for a superintendent a fine job of many. Now it's not okay well there Patrick there's not a lot of people looking for it and I'm looking for the superintendent the and I think if you were to ask. Boards of education what he candidate pool for superintendent. Superintendent Al there it is he which shale. There's not a lot of people getting into it. I think another important point to point out due to. One other thing I think that the county executive relief mixed when he was comparing different districts. One of the biggest things that tried costs in the district. Apple will try to administrative cost of when you do you have any smaller district. Obviously there's less kids to spread that across from but also numbered districts that are listed as quick and efficient in the comptroller's or media executives pork. Our district but also have been rather high percentage special needs students. Usually most those districts I think for probably between fourteen and 18% classification. Specialist at some of the other district that he was comparing them to words lowest 9%. And when 25% of your budget are those special needs students wore. Like for Cleveland shall REL population are English language learners population is gone up over 300%. In the past years. You know blows are all things that different districts may not asked to address where do you put in the. Dutch and just so you know I'm adding I don't know to what extent you heard the county executive's speech or watched it. He did split specifically mentioned that students who are special needs tend to drive up the cost of senators a lot of variables that go into it. Yeah there are getting darker side and get a chance to watch all of it right. Providence FaceBook like like halfway through it. An incredible thing I think that's just as when you do look BP try to districts we regularly refer to be. Cheektowaga and the different districts mentioned as small districts. Across the state or one time there were 111000 districts in New York State. There's now 675. On Cleveland build based on student enrollment actually falls to number 328. He also told C Erie county we will look at identified small districts. When we go to the state can talk about consolidating. Reorganizing small districts. All of us that he had mentioned in the Cheektowaga second snakes all the net 405055. Percentile where we're right in the middle. So mistake looks small districts and efficiencies and effectiveness of reorganization. We're not typically the first place are gonna look and be ready to throw money.