Thursday, April 26, 2012

School Tax election offers a lesson

There is a lesson to be learned from the school tax election last Saturday.
The $210,000,000 bond issue was approved – barely – by just over 300 votes out of more than 9,000 cast.
The proposal for employee pay increases was denied, as was the funding for new technology.
This is a shame, as the technology funding was the proposal that most immediately affects our school kids. So far as the employee raises, had it only affected teachers, aides, custodial staff, cafeteria staff and clerical staff I believe it would have passed. In my opinion, what killed it was the idea of giving several people who make over $100,000 per year a hefty raise. In tough economic times, people who are struggling on half that amount or less were not just not willing to do it.
As for the bond issue, it was a grudging yes after a hard discussion. As a sidenote, I thought the celebrations by School Board members and upper-echelon employees were somewhat disgusting. They were acting like giddy teenagers when they needed to show the voters that they take them seriously.
A lot of people are also questioning why the board rolled back the current millage when they could have used the full millage to meet some of the needs that they now claim are urgent.
Bossier Parish voters have a hard time saying ‘no’ to anything for our schools. With two renewals coming up next year, this really should be a wake-up call to the board and the administration.
Professor Jeff Sadow addresses these questions in ‘Normally compliant voters send Bossier schools message’.
The state has mandated end of course testing for core classes, sort of a graduation exit exam. Again, this is mandated testing that must take place within a certain time frame.
These tests are all computer based.
Also, the new Common Core curriculum is now upon us and that is also a computer based testing mandate. Unfunded, of course - the state isn't interested in buying computer labs for public schools.
Seniors in Bossier Parish are required to complete a Senior Project prior to graduation; they must present this project to a panel of judges from the community. The presentations are more often than not on a Powerpoint presentation which guessed it - technology.
It is difficult to make a Powerpoint presentation on an older laptop that constantly has to be rebooted during the presentation.
I have talked to a couple of teachers, and they are more upset about lack of funding for technology than they are about being denied raises. Although some people seem unaware, our teachers really do put the interests of their students – our children – first.
This is from a Bossier Parish teacher:
I went into my classroom this morning and put a new box of Kleenex on the desk for the kids to use. I put it next to the large bottle of hand sanitizer that I bought at the same time.
Then I opened a package of  notebook paper and put in the tray for the kids without paper to use. I bought that, too. I also opened a new package of pens and one of pencils to put in the cup for those kids who get to school with nothing to write with.
The pencil sharpener to sharpen those pencils? I bought it.
When I wrote today's assignments on the board I used dry erase markers that I bought at WalMart.
When the kids left today, because so many were sneezing and sniffling from allergies, I wiped the desks down with Anti-Bacterial Wipes that I bought at Super One.
How many dollars have I given away out of my own pocket to kids that are thirsty after school or don't have lunch money?
In the evening I grade papers and make lesson plans.
As the election results came in Saturday night, KTBS posted an update on their Facebook feed. The comments there were nasty. Not all of them, but there were plenty that were just uninformed, false, and hateful. One person suggested that teachers "eat less" and another said that most of the teachers he sees are driving fancy and expensive cars. Speaking just for myself, for the past few years I drove a twenty year old car that was second hand when I got it; it had no heat, no radio, bad tires, cracked seats and an overheating problem. I don't see a lot of luxury vehicles in the parking lot, to be honest.
The Lesson
So what is the lesson that is to be learned?
It’s not only for the School Board, but for all elected officials as well.
City officials who are up for re-election next year, and those who will present themselves for office should also take notice.
The people are tired of the status quo and are beginning to demand accountability and will not accept mismanagement of the resources that they willingly have given to public bodies in the past.
This tax election is just the beginning.


  1. Do teachers need a pay raise? Absolutely! The problem with the elections, however, is that tahe powers that be like to tie other issues into the proposition and people are tired of being used at the polls. Louisiana, especially Orleans & Caddo Parish, has a poor history of elementary,secondary and high school achievements and it's because of poorly educated and motivated teachers. It's nothing new. But why reward the marginally performing teachers with the same as a outstanding one? Try to really dedicate an issue to the voters next time.

  2. Pay raises for teachers should be connected to performance, the fire let go of the teachers who fail to perform. Without that, Bossier schools will continue to tread water.

  3. The technology proposal submitted to the public was for infrastucture not computers and ipads for students. It was new servers, wireless connections, service and support, and training.

  4. As a former teacher, I think good teachers deserve a raise. Bad ones need to be fired. If a school system would promote based on merit rather than politics, maybe we would have good principles who would fire bad teachers. Several principal positions are going to be available shortly. Let's see how many are political promotions. Also get rid of folks who are not needed. A lot of money is wasted paying them.

  5. I for one am glad that the people of Bossier Parish have not forgotten the tax dollars wasted/loss by the current admistration. I feel for the teache that has to buy all the items for her class but the lost $3million in the last few years could have purchased alot of supplies. They need to cut back on the number of admisistrator's at the main office. Did they really need to hire a Marketing Person recently, probably at $75,000 to $100,000. This is where your money is going. Remember, if this had passed, your raise would would have been partly gone with the increase in property tax as well as Mr. Edminson getting ready to raise you home value and now I am sure that the millage that has been rolled back will be rolled forward. They always seem to have a rabbit in the hat.

  6. Katman,

    I'm a former School Resource Officer and I'm married to a teacher. During my tenure as an SRO I witnessed students who didn't give a hoot one way or another if they got a grade or not. Their only purpose in going to school was one or more of the following: socialization, lunch, deal drugs, or they are just too young to drop out.

    No matter how hard the administration tried to get rid of the dead weight the laws prevented them from doing so. Now, the teachers are going to have their performance measured on how they are going to stimulate kids who don't care about their grades or have parents at home that probably care even less. To parents like these school is only a place to get the kids out of their lives for 7 or 8 hours a day.

    I agree be teachers need to be removed, but what concerns me is under the system that's coming down the pike good teachers are going to be removed too.

  7. Steve,

    I agree with everything you say but some principals are worthless. I agree that some try to get rid of dead weight, but some will not attempt to.

  8. Steve, all due respect, but were you making $60,000 to$70,000 as a School Resource Officer for the last three years before you retired?

  9. And, I might add that Bossier Police are a true Godsend , but, I also ask if you were making $70 to $80 an hour while working security at Middle School football games on a Tuesday evening from 4:30 to 9:30, while wearing a BCPD uniform and driving a BCPD police car on the taxpayers nickle?

    Please take no offense.

    1. I sure wish I as an officer with BCPD could make $70 to $80 per hour at football games! I wouldn't miss a game and wouldn't have to hustle part time jobs anywhere else! I don't know where you got your information but you are badly misinformed! !

  10. Who is making $70 to $80 an hour? I promise you no officer makes that an hour on an extra job. Extra jobs only pay $25 an hour. Most football games are worked by our reserve officer who make nothing. Most of your security is provided free of charge. Get your fact straight.

  11. 6:34 - What are you smoking? No offense.

  12. I am a teacher. I voted No, yes, yes. I have taught for 25 years, have a Masters and make 54,000 per year. Five percent isn't a big raise, but any raise is a good one. I use technology every day--it is required. The vote wouldn't have given us new ipads and new computers. We would have been able to use several wireless devices at the same time at speeds faster than dial-up. :) My no vote--the only thing that passed--was simply because it is not necessary (the raise either, but it sure would have been nice). There is empty space all over this parish that could be utilized. However, it would take someone with guts to make the district line changes and stop all the transfers. The technology was necessary. I'm anxious to see how all the EOC testing, Common Core, and whatever else is coming down the line will be handled with such substandard technology services.

    The good teachers didn't start teaching for the money. We started teaching because we love kids. Many of us feel our teaching job is our calling. The teacher who emailed Jim about what she provides for her students is one of the good ones. She (or maybe he) sees a need and tries to the best of her ability to meet the need. There are many of us. Don't paint the high dollar central office personnel and the bad teachers with the same brush as us!

    In closing, I teach because I love it.

  13. Thanks for the comment and thanks for the job you do. Teaching is a very thankless profession and I personally believe that we should give teachers our complete support.

  14. I am an 18 year old student at Haughton High School. I voted yes to the bond because I've seen that our schools are now teeming with students. The number of students attending Haughton area schools has grown exponentially. Every time I drive around Haughton I see a new suburb, a new neighborhood, or a cleared out piece of land waiting for houses. Our school age population is growing and we have a need for more schools.

    I voted no to the second and third proposition because I felt like the new taxes would put an unnecessary burden on our local businesses. The Bossier Chamber of Commerce and many businesses came out against this proposition for this very reason. The last thing I want is a business having to lay off or fire people because they cannot afford the new tax rates.

    This doesn't even mention the fact that D.C. Machen and his cronies in Benton have rolled back the actual millage, in an attempt to appear conservative. The School board is rife with mismanagement and I feel like the money would have never seen the hands of teachers or technology.

  15. The problem with paying teachers based on pupil performance is that performance has more to do with the socio-economic environment of the student. Do students perform worse at Bossier Elem compared to WT Lewis because of the quality of teachers? While performance pay for teachers sounds like a good idea there is no way to objectively compare teachers who teach in different environments.

  16. This $210,000,000 that they are now prepared to spend does not take into account that the state is about to start paying for private school for thousands of students. It is par for the course of government planners that they are spending millions of tax dollars to build classrooms for students who will be going to school elsewhere.

  17. What if all the hood rats leave Shreveport and want to attend Bossier schools? I see Bossier schools turning into a BPCC situation. Go to BPCC in the afternoon sometime and see all the free tuition hood rat students hanging out in the break rooms. The chancellor loves them because the state gives them money for these people. So they get to come to BPCC and hang out all day and maybe they attend class, maybe they don't. Good Luck Bossier teachers. Shreveport kids are on the way.

  18. Jim at 9;34, no offense taken. I am smoking the hot air of bitterness against community leadership. I agree and my lungs hurt.

    As corrupt as it is, there is no changing it. I HATE IT, yet I have accepted the fact the hypocrisy will never end. It has been and always will be the American way. Corruption at the top.

    I voted yes for all three props. Taxes are a way of life. Do I like EFFing like it, NO. We all work hard to make beanos.

    Here is a link to the Shreveport Times Data Center from 2008. If one is so inclined to look through the pages there are some really absurd salaries. Realizing the fact the salaries have been well earned and deserved. The fact is the hard working individuals have been extremely shorted due to the ones at the top of the lot.

    School Resource Officers are usually Sergeants taking the last three years in a cushy yet well deserved position. Hats off, indeed.

    Same as BCFD. Link.

    Please take note the salaries are from 2008 and both agencies have been getting raises yearly due to state law.

    The possible One Million dollar debt to a slight number of BCFD fiasco that Bossier City taxpayers are now going to cough up appears to have been rigged to shut up the ones at the top.

    Don't these Teachers and other public servants such as Non- Safety personnel that work nights holidays and weekends for this city and Parish deserve a raise. Pay the worker, man.


    I would not mind paying a little more tax for the hard working damn fine folks I have just described.

    My point being is to please loose the bitterness and lets support the backbone of our community.

    Anon7:15 I have heard other wise from very reputable citizens in our community, I may be wrong about the football games yet I have heard otherwise concerning private function pay. I under stand moonlighting yet bottom line it is the tax payers nickle for that uniform. I totally disagree with your statement about the reserve officers only working games I have personally seen active officers. I apologize if I am wrong and thank you for correction.


    The link I forgot to post. BCPD salaries.

  20. "So far as the employee raises, had it only affected teachers, aides, custodial staff, cafeteria staff and clerical staff I believe it would have passed." All of the employees mentioned in this statement are essential to the school system. But I am always amazed at the fact that school bus drivers are NEVER mentioned!! How do you think the majority of those kids get to school ? The roads are dangerous, there are many distractions while driving and the bus drivers have about 50 distractions sitting right behind them every morning and afternoon. Yes, teachers must teach, aids must aid, custodial staff must maintain the school, cafeteria staff must feed the students, and clerical staff must maintain the office, but if bus drivers don't deliver the students to school safely, none of those people have a job !!!

  21. I didn't intentionally leave out bus drivers, I apologize.

  22. People should consider that a school day begins and ends with bus drivers. They are no more important or less important than any other group of "support" staff.

  23. Well...I voted "NO, YES, YES." I thought the first proposition was was too hastily put together, and believe that if new facilities are required, that it's a pretty big deal...and should have been more thoroughly examined, and discussed.

    I was truly surprised that it went exactly the opposite way I thought it should.


    My vote is the kiss of death. Hell, I'm thinking of voting for Obama in November, just to make sure he loses.

  24. as a current teacher, let me give a hearty amen to steve and also call out the stunning naivete of this statement by anon 12:26

    "Louisiana, especially Orleans & Caddo Parish, has a poor history of elementary,secondary and high school achievements and it's because of poorly educated and motivated teachers."

    simply put, the bad schools are filled with bad students. swap the staffs of caddo magnet (the best school in north la) and woodlawn (one of the worst) and i guarantee you NOTHING will change with either school's performance.

    i see this every day. my own school still groups students by their academic and discipline record. that means i end up with some classes full of inquisitive and well behaved kids. no shock: they always do very well on state tests. other classes are full of kids who miss every other day and when they do show up, have no materials and spend class time either sleeping or bothering other students. these kids have a much higher rate of failure. i'm the same teacher teaching the same subject. the difference is the students.

    there's this ridiculous myth driving much of our discussions of school reform. it's the false idea that our schools are filled with thousands of children eager to learn and succeed, but many of our teachers are too lazy or ignorant to help them. i believed this bulls**t when i left the law to become a teacher. i immediately found out the reality in 'failing' schools is thousands of earnest teachers want to share their knowledge and help their students but have an audience that either doesn't care or else is actively hostile.

    that's the facts. my students do not fail because of me. they fail because they won't take notes. they will not complete assignments. they refuse to finish something as simple as a study guide, never mind use it to study for the test. they miss every other day of school. they never make up the work. they fight and get suspended. their parents never show up for conferences.

    do not misunderstand me. i love my job. i look forward to work every day. i just wish i had some support, or at least acknowledgment of the difficulties, rather than being held accountable for someone else's bad decisions.

  25. Excellent Wheeler, thank you.

  26. Finally Wheeler you said something I agree 100% . Politicians are scared to say what you said because they are scared of losing votes. We have become a society that likes to blame others. I substitute taught for one year when I was deciding whether or not I want to teach full time. I saw exactly what you talked about. Problem is you can't put the bad kids in with the good kids because they disrupt their learning environment. Politicians just need to realize we are going to have good parents with good students and bad parents with bad students. Trying to overhaul the whole system is a waste of time and money and will no better results.

  27. You are all right, Bossier Parish sent a message......which is most just don't give a rip all 58,000 that stayed at home and chose not to wonder we are all in such a mess! God have mercy on our country, when will we wake up and take advantage of our countries liberties that many have perished for....maybe when it's no longer our right! IF everyone on this site would invest their time in making a difference in ONE child who is failing not only in school but in life what a different place Bossier Parish would be. It's easy to set back and throw daggers at people who try to make a difference, ie. teachers, principals but what have each of you done to truly make a difference?

  28. Maybe instead of the politicians holding the teachers accountable, the teachers need to hold the politicians accountable. Grade them when Louisiana shows up as number 49 on everyone's list. Young people leave here because there are no jobs, but we still fund TOPS so we can educate our kids and send them to Texas. the state is broke. No kidding. But it's not the teachers fault or the fault of some state worker who works for the highway department.

  29. What wheeler says is of course the truth, and it was the same way back in the middle of the last century when I was in school. Back then it was clearly understood that there would be juvenile delinquents and drop-outs and failures. Public school was geared toward teaching the students who were able and willing to learn. When Bush came up with the "no child left behind", I knew that would be the destruction of the public school system. The voucher program that was just passed will not do any good, and will just be a big fleecing of the taxpayers. Just look at all the phoney private colleges which are raking in the millions of tax dollars for making a pretense of educating students who would promptly flunk out of a real university, if they could even get into one in the first place. Right now there are lots of con-artists coming up with plans to start private playskools to take those vouchers which Jindal's bunch is about to hand out.

  30. Because of when it was held, this election was designed for the successful passing of a tax increase. And yet even with the low turnout, the two new taxes were voted down and the renewal barely passed. The message is clear from Bossier voters . . . until public agencies demonstrate that they will be good stewards with our tax dollars, stop asking the taxpayers for more money.

    I feel for the teachers and other employees who were looking forward to a well-deserved raise. I am a hazardous duty worker who hasn't had a raise in five-plus years, and our yearly step increases were suspended four years ago. So I surely understand. But most public employees are suffering due to the poor economy and tight budgets, not just school employees.

  31. Wheeler your correct in what you say, but who in bossier paeish decides where those kids that dont give a rip goes to school?
    If you kick those bad kids who dont want to learn out of school doesnt that mean your school system gets less money because your head count goes down, and if your move them out to another school or lump them in one school according to geography your run the risk of a failing school and then looking bad.
    Again I ask who makes that decision, you can sit back and say you cant do anything because of the consent decree and hide behind that all your want so as to hide your warts.
    That is not the good teachers fault, but an administrator who chooses to not deal with the problem because of a bloated ego.

  32. I have an idea. How bout military schools. The young marines program seems to be a good program. How bout we incorporate school classes within the program. Oh wait that won't work becausevas soon as you get tough on the kids, there will be parents who complain and sue because your being too tough on their little babies. Wake up. Parents are the problem. Ignorance breeds ignorance. You can't even paddle kids anymore. It's in school suspension now. Parents filing lawsuits changed that.

  33. The only replies I'm going to make about the comment concerning officers making $70 to $80 an hour for security at school events are: I wish I received that much when I was doing them, and the approximately $80 a night the officer receives is a whole lot less than the millions the school board would be liable for if they didn't have officers these events. As for taxpayer paid cars and uniforms, what good would it do to have security without wearing uniforms or providing them with the necessary equipment to perform those duties? Like I said, the cost of prevention outweighs the potential costs for liability, which would really cost the taxpayers.

    As for the people who believe they know what teachers do or don't do I have a question. Have you taken the time to go see for yourselves what actually goes on at your local school? When I was a SRO I think I saw maybe one parent who asked for permission to observe the classes their child attended and to what happens during the school day. (All you need to do is get permission from the school administration and visit. It's that simple.) The rest of the parents who would come were there to pick up their children who were sick or had been suspended or arrested. Most of the parents who wanted to talk about why their child was suspended or arrested was there to argue why their child was being "singled out." Not always, but often enough.

    About getting dead weight students out of school, that has already been mentioned, and it's called No Child Left Behind. This law doesn't make it impossible to get a kid kicked out of school, let alone a class room, but it sure makes it incredibly difficult. Also, there are too many state and federal laws interfering with local schools. I understand why there would be some state laws, but why all the federal laws? How can a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. know and control what is needed in Bossier Parish or any other local school system?

    As for the "Sacred Cows" in the education system go ask a teacher or administrator about Special Education and especially Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If they'll talk let them and you'll learn this basically gives the inmates complete control of the asylum. I'm not talking about the ones who are truly needing these services, I'm talking about the thugs who get themselves classified as Special Ed or 504. And don't forget to ask about exceptionalities. Once this is explained to you and after your head stops spinning you'll really get pissed.

    If more people knew what was going on in the education system they would be appalled and demand not only pay raises for teachers they would also demand giving them hazard duty. pay.

  34. "Finally Wheeler you said something I agree 100%"

    haha. that's funny.

    seriously, even though around here i am what passes for a flaming liberal, this is an issue that when properly understood has solutions people of all political beliefs can support.

    in short, make education freely available to all (yeah from the libs) but hold the ones who are supposed to be learning accountable (yeah from the cons). you get equality and personal responsibility.

    practically this means we stop treating all people as if they were the same. some kids are not cut out for college. many have no desire to go. this isn't discriminatory or insulting; it's reality. so let's start creating some other types of training and tracking kids into areas that are more appropriate for their abilities and desires.

    doing so, i think, would greatly reduce the motivational and discipline problems we have now. but for those who do cause trouble, it needs to be very clear that while everyone has the opportunity for a free education, that opportunity can be lost.

    i don't think these ideas would offend anyone. unfortunately, they would be expensive and take a long time to implement. the long term benefit, though, would be worth it.

  35. wheeler, i could not agree more.


    but i do disagree on a couple of points. i really don't think it would be all that expensive, nor would it take all that long to implement.

    but i'm not a teacher, and not trying to work within the i'm probably wrong.

    but i really believe that a major overhaul wouldn't take so long. it's done in corporate america all the time. new ceo just comes in and starts kicking ass and taking names...proclaims how it's gonna be, and it gets that way. QUICK!!!

    probably "pie in the sky," but i think the public (i mean the ones that pay for everything) are ready for something like that.

    honestly, i do.

  36. Anon 5:54pm Yes, this system is way outta control. It's a no-win situation for teachers.

    The large amount of SPED and 504 kids make teaching a paperwork nightmare. When your health plans, IEPs, and 504s take up more room than your lesson plans... its sad. Some kids are encouraged by their parents to act up so they can get a "crazy check." SPED teachers spend most of their time on paperwork so the school can CYA.

    When it comes to discipline,teachers are pretty much told not to write kids up and keep them in class. Many schools have a form that goes through 3-7 steps before a student can be written up. Most teachers don't bother to write kids up because it takes away precious classroom time.

    Parents would also be shocked to see what a referral looks like these days. It is very detailed. Is the student on drugs? Bad home? Avoiding students? Avoiding work? Avoiding authority? Teachers are supposed to "guess" what led to the behavior. All these steps to get a child out of class for maybe a day. Crazy!

    Good kids have to put up with these bullies, discipline problems, and crazies. It is not fair to the kids that can behave and want to learn. They are the biggest losers imho.

    Yes, hazard pay for all of the folks on the "front lines" of education.

    Plus,get these supervisors on "site" and in the trenches with the teachers and kids.

    Central Office?.... not sure what to do with it.

  37. First off to the anonymous that a bcpd officer get $70 or $80 an hour for a part time a former nfls officer myself I can assure you that is completely not true. Officers work MANY part time jobs because they get paid little to do what they do. Just fyi, it took me 7 years to finally clear a pay check o er $1000. I was doing a thankless and dangerous job and it took 7 years for that. Do me a favor and give the real officers a break, bash the administration all you want cause they make the decisions that the real officers are forced to live with.

    The school system (didnt say teachers etc.) has basically become just like the department though, the upper end want the lower end to do a weeks worth of work for a days pay. It's called "economics 101" ... All.employees are looked at as expenses and when an expense gets to high it is dropped. I don't believe that the whole should get the same thing in any situation due to lazy worth people that ride the system but I do feel if your good at what you do then you deserve what you deserve

  38. Exceptionalities are essentially this, a "special needs" student, even the ones who aren't really special ed but have managed to be classified as special ed because of their inability to act in a civilized manner, have lists of behaviors which they are allowed to get away with because these behaviors are part of who they are.
    The Special Ed Department personnel hold IEP meeting for each student to determine what the excetionalities are and list them. So, if a student exhibits one of these behaviors during an act of uncivilized behavior he/she basically can't get punished for it.
    Now, if a SPED student displays a behavior not on the list the SPED Department personnel will hold another IEP meeting for that student (IEP I believe mean Individual Excetionaility Plan.) During this meetin they talk about the newly displayed behavior and determine if it's a new exceptionality or not. If they determine it is they add it to the list of uncivilized acts the SPED student can get away with.


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