1 - Do you support the referendum for a ½ penny sales surtax to fund the capital budget? Why or why not?
Denise Coyle - At this time, it is difficult to support this referendum as this is a double-edged sword. We cannot afford to ignore the underlying issues. Issue one is to “trust” that BPS will perform in a fiscally responsible manner. Issue two is, “Haven’t we been taxed enough?” BPS need to change the message and develop a new structure that is more transparent and accountable to the taxpayers by providing them with the benefits of passing this sales tax rather than highlighting the punishments if not passed. I propose that an independent critical needs committee evaluate the needs of every school, along with an independent oversight board to ensure that these needs are being met and that the money is being spent on priorities, capital repair and maintenance rather than on capital additions and wants. It is then that you will have a YES vote. Students, teachers and schools must be our priority.
Dale Davis - No I do not support the Half-Cent sales, surtax. Why not?
First: Duration. The ballot language will be required very soon. I heard Superintendent Dr. Binggeli while at a forum quote six to ten years of surtax. That is not defined. Wildly guessing from $210 to $350 million, shows no planning.
Secondly: Accountability. With deferred projects totaling and estimated $105-134 million, why are they asking for two, three times what is needed to rectify past capital projects? I could support a three year half-cent tax only if we had a blue ribbon citizens advisory committee, and publicly accounted line item spending of each dollar given by Brevard County taxpayers.
Thirdly: Lack of vision. There was no plan, there is no plan. We are back to budget levels prior to the 2004-2007 bubble. We do not have a revenue problem, we continue to have a spending and planning problem.Dean Paterakis - Absolutely not! I do not like our taxes spent frivolously. Our schools continue to misspend millions of our tax-dollars. Why would I, or anyone, want to give the board members more money to waste? How can our schools justify principals and administrators having salaries over $107,000 and then give several of them over $500,000 each just because they had worked for the school board? How can the board justify giving a no-bid contract for $8 million when they supposedly don’t have money. Why isn’t anyone prosecuted when there is an investigation done and found that the facilities department misspent over $3 million in no-bid contracts to friends and family? Why do we continue to employ the CFO that put us in this mess to begin with? No, I am not supporting a ½ cent sales tax until the senior staff is held accountable for these actions.
Andy Ziegler – No response
2 - The latest budget cut list for FY 2014-15 has 25 items and saves almost $18 million dollars. Would you change any priorities on that list?
Coyle - BPS needs a list of cuts that addresses past errors without compromising our future. Developing concrete strategies with these budget cuts that benefit our students, teachers, and schools is necessary. Rather than placing 10 Campus Monitor Positions on the list to save $247,000, an alternative is to eliminate the excess in allocated Assistant Principals/Deans positions as BPS is overstaffed. This creates a larger savings, thus narrowing this list.
“Increase Class Sizes” should be removed. Class size is a constitutional amendment to be respected and followed. Increasing class size burdens the teacher and is a disservice to students. Nothing should impede student success and their ability to learn; therefore budget cuts should be made at the district level first. Going back to the drawing table to see where/ how to make this happen is a good starting point as the mission of BPS is to "serve every student with excellence.”
Davis - Absolutely. Once again the top heavy Administration wants too many cuts to school related budgetary items that would affect our kids, teachers, and school staff. Honestly, our State legislature should reinstate the PECO dollars, and give us back one of the quarter mills taken from the capital budget.
Our State Constitution requires and mandates we have class size limits. It also states in Article IX Section 1a. that it is a paramount duty of the State to provide a high education, a free education, and one that is safe, secure, and efficient.
By law the STATE must provide for maintenance and operations of established schooling within its boundary's. Priorities I would change would even out the required cuts at roll back levels, to include the top heavy Administration operations budget, and minimize cuts to school administrations, staffs, and programs for the kids.
Paterakis - Yes, I would. This list is more of a manipulation list, than a priority list. “Give us more money, or else!” Our school leaders’ cuts cause children and families to suffer but have not made any sacrifices themselves. I have been a proponent of cutting the fat at the top. I have been to the community forums and have asked Dr. Binggeli tough questions. I specifically asked him to provide the names, positions, and salaries of the cuts he made at the top publicly at these forums in February. It is now the end of April and he has yet to produce evidence of any cuts at the top. Senior staff members continue to give themselves raises to the tune of 15%+ increasing individual salaries by $15,000 while teachers pay scales are frozen this greatly concerns me.Ziegler – No response
3 - The current budget cut list for FY 2015-16 contains school closures, outsourcing custodial services and pay-to-play for sports. If this had to be implanted, do you agree with those priorities? Do you believe that a list of potential specific school closures should be made public as part of budget negotiations?
Coyle - Often, the most cost-effective solution is internal management reform rather than outsourcing. My concerns - Will this cause a reduction in pay for some of our citizens? Will it put community members out of work? How will this affect our economy?
Sports are just as important as the arts and music programs. School-based sports programs can bring out noticeable positive reactions and behaviors in teens with unlimited benefits. Many of our students depend on sports for scholarships. We will save $400,000, but how much could we save if district staff drove their own cars, or board members paid for their own benefits?
No school should be closed unless there is substantial data to support it, and yes; any school set for closure should be made public. Those who it will affect (students, teachers, staff, parents, community) have a right to know, prepare, and make decisions that will affect their future.Davis - I have addressed minimizing cuts to the capital budget, schools, staff, including custodial. As for pay to play, I say, no way! If elected, I will not vote to keep cutting programs intended for the excellence of kids being, and staying in school, so the District Administration can keep padding the Operations budget.
No, I do not agree. One, that three votes on that dais decide what gets implanted". Two, I have addressed the priority's in my campaign, kids first, then our teachers, then taxpayers and parents.
We are compelled to educate our children, with the best schools, Principals, Teachers, and staff. The efficiency thereof has top priority, then we can talk District Administration and Operations.
Lastly, if elected, my school closure list is right here ".............." for everyone to see. No school closures, period.
Paterakis - Again, let’s not be fooled. The schools must not be hurting for money if they continue to misspend our money. If they can vote to spend $8 million on an unnecessary NO-BID program then obviously they have extra money. When senior staff continue to collect six-digit salaries and get another $ ½ million on top of that then it is hard to convince me that school closures, outsourcing of custodial services, and pay-to-play is needed. If you want to be misled then listen to the school leaders who continue to misinform the public. I never agreed with these priorities. We need to hold those accountable for the misspending of our tax-dollars. Until they fire and prosecute these overpaid-incompetent administrators I will not trust them with any more money. Citizens shouldn’t be manipulated by these so-called school leaders who use our children’s schools as ransom for their own agenda.
Ziegler – No response
4 - What is your opinion of the new Florida Standards?Coyle - Students need to develop critical thinking skills so that they can apply, analyze and evaluate. Critical thinking is significant in the learning process whereby the learner builds on a basic idea and eventually develops problem-solving skills. This will serve them well, not only in their academic career but in their chosen career field and in life. It is unfortunate that current Florida State Standards will not help students achieve this goal. Standards should be developmentally appropriate for each grade level. Those standards should also be developed based on research and implemented so that students can be active learners in the classroom and become productive members of society. Implementation of these standards should also include proper teacher evaluations, responsible school funding and school calendar requirements so that these goals can be met.
Davis - I have a very low opinion of Common Core lite. The Florida Standards through A.I.R.* is little more than a shrunken pea under a new shell.Common Core is the Obamacare of Education. (IMHO)
One: Since the elimination of PARCC, the State DOE has forgotten to replace the testing. As of yet, we have no test. We've had to "lease" testing from another State to fill the void.
Two: I am against teachers PGP's and benchmark protocols. Our teachers should be able to teach. This is their profession, they love what they do, and we've had the top teachers in the Nation right here. I trust they know how to do their jobs. We don't need to teach robots. Let kids excel. Don't hold one back, because another is having difficulties. Allow the teachers the time to help each student help themselves, not promote a cookie cutter education.
Paterakis - What a waste of millions of taxpayers’ dollars. This is just a marketing technique, only a repackaging of old standards that will do very little to improve education. It gives the perception that politicians are improving education, but they are really harming it. Now it will be harder for teachers to focus on the child’s unique gifts and will create a hostile learning environment. If we truly want to improve education then we need to put the very best teachers in the classroom and allow them to teach and exploit the gifts that each child has. Instead trying to make children’s education common, it should focus on making children extraordinary. It saddens me to see what the profession of teaching has become. I just hope I can get on the school board to help stop the insanity and help the teaching profession get back to being respected and effective.
Ziegler – No response