Op-Ed: Former BCPS teacher analyzes “People for Our People” mantra and budget priorities
Posted by Daniel Sands on 8th April 2019
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By: Daniel Sands

Interim Superintendent Verletta White decided to maintain her “People for Our People” budget, a mantra she uses to describe support staff for school employees.

But one must ask the question: Does Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) really need all of its “People for Our People?”

White wants to keep her top-heavy staff, for instance, exclaiming that her central office is not bloated because she only has 40 executives for such a big school system.

But if she tells the truth and includes her nine chiefs, three community superintendents, one assistant superintendent, two senior executive directors, 23 executive directors, and 30 directors, the number swells to 68.

All of that without including the infamous shredders in the BCPS law office.

These employees earn a minimum of $145,000 each a year. Any potential cost savings here?

Other “People for Our People” requests are quite puzzling. For example, White affirmed her support for 50.5 new special education teachers in her budget proposal. But according to the BCPS job vacancy website, the school district already has 34 special education teacher vacancies. Many of these jobs have been advertised for the entire school year.

Given this reality, would BCPS then potentially have 84.5 special educator vacancies? And does anyone know what happened to the money budgeted for the original 34 vacant positions?

This begs the question: why are these positions unfilled? Does human resources have a staffing plan for recruiting and retaining employees for these positions (above and beyond the hastily thrown together job fairs)?

This is how money and positions are hidden at BCPS.  And it is these types of questionable actions (or inaction) that call in to question the school district’s ethics.

Of course, all of this is compounded by the demand for transparency by less than transparent politicians.

Further, in lieu of approving more positions, someone at Greenwood should be comparing resumes to the job descriptions for recruits administrators hire. As a teacher, I saw employees being placed in positions for which they were unqualified.  This necessitated hiring more “People for our People” in order to help various employees carry out the jobs they were hired to do.

Only after this, once verifying that BCPS is using its current workforce in an efficient and effective manner, should the administration determine if the district needs more “People for Our People.”

County Executive Johnny O:  Look at some of these “People for our People” when trimming the budget. Cut all position increases out of the BCPS budget, as well as salary increases for current staff.  Cut 10 of the 68 executive positions, and start looking at the costs BCPS bears for leased spaces for central office staff and schools.

Don’t let the pearls fool you.

 

Daniel Sands is a former Baltimore County Public Schools teacher.