Bob Norman, editor of the most-excellent Daily Pulp blog at the Broward-Palm Beach New Times writes about some recent public school teacher layoffs in his school district:
One of the teachers, Mrs. Bramhall, was one of my daughter’s favourites. She taught art, which my daughter loved. Don’t know who’s going to teach first-graders art next year, probably no one. Other layoffs included the school’s family and guidance counselors. And she was one of 396 teachers laid off countywide.
Why did the School Board do it? Let’s say each teacher cost the board $80,000 a year. With 396 teachers laid off, that comes to about $32 million.
Sounds like a lot of money, until you look at the board’s $3 Billion construction department budget. And finding waste there is so easy, it’s not even funny. You have at least a million wasted in this Ron Book special deal, for instance. I hear another million was recently squandered on the highest bid for a high school’s athletic facility. And then there’s one of the Big Kahunas, the bus depot project, known as the SW Area Bus Parking Facility. After selling the School Board the land for the bus depot, which was supposedly desperately needed 10 years ago, Ron Bergeron also landed the contract to develop the project. His company, Bergeron Land Development, won the contract with a $4 million bid. The firm was supposed to get the work done in 150 days and have it completed by September 8, 2005.
Now, it’s possible that Norman is wrong and that the billions the school board spends on construction boondoggles is absolutely necessary and that there’s no way to shave $32 million out of the city budget. Possible. But if you ask us, laying off teachers is a GREAT way to get press for your struggling country.
Think about it, for the cost of a little class room crowding, you get all kinds of attention, possibly even a trip from the President, and then the next time there’s money doled out, you’re known as the school board that had to lay off poor Mrs. Bramhall, the beloved 1st grade art teacher (even her name is perfect; we’re guessing they didn’t layoff the grouchy librarian Ms. Whip). If on the other hand, they’d shaved off money from the Big Kahunas bus depot project, there’d be no attention at all, and no money forthcoming.