Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jousting with the Moon-Beem

Once or twice in the past we’ve posted on a self-absorbed opinion writer in one of our local free newspapers.  We’ve generally referred to him as Mr. Moon-Beem, or at times Eddie.


Those who pick up such free media probably know who we’re referring to.

We frequently comment on his offerings on the associated web site for two primary reasons. 

First, we take issue with his assertions, his rationale, and his obvious deep animosity towards those who think differently than he.  He practices what in writings by others is called cultural marxism, and one of its associated principles, “liberating tolerance,” which has been described as “the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements” on the Right, and the aggressively partisan promotion of speech, groups, and progressive movements on the Left.”

Second, we amuse ourselves by tweaking him and watching him float like a rock and sting like a marshmallow when he attempts to dance around the issues raised.  Not to mention that on numerous occasions he has vowed never ever to respond to anything we post in the future.  But he just can’t make himself stop.  So it’s great fun to snipe at him over and over.

He has absolutely no respect for us, even when we present facts on the public record to challenge his position and his conclusions.  In fact he typically makes some snide comment about us being a “know-it-all” who knows nothing, while deftly skirting the issue at hand

In his most recent offering, he lectures readers on Brunswick School Budgets, claiming to be an expert on the history, though he’s only lived in Brunswick “for several years.”  He moved here from Yarmouth, in his mind the finest town in America (until it lost hime), even though we are no match for it.  We’re convinced it was because the Downeaster passed close by his back yard there, and the increase in daily trips would be too hard on his domestic tranquility.

At any rate, we decided to make a lengthy comment on that most recent article, knowing it wouldn’t be credibly replied to by the author, but because we want to make sure that those who see the article on the internet have illuminating data provided by the school department itself to counter the author’s slanted offering.

Here it is in case you can’t bring yourself to chase after the article; if nothing else, it will refresh you on a number of facts and figures relating to our School Department as its gone through a major transition in the last 10 years.

(Dear Mr. Moon-Beem is implied)

I know we've been over this before, and now others are pointing it out as well, but you seem unable to absorb it because it doesn't align with your alternative grasp of reality. We know you are a pioneer of the post-modern, but some of us still hold out for objective truth in matters like budgets and school administration. You've often suggested I have no idea what I'm talking about, but never offer substantiation for that view; just gnashing of teeth and furious hand waving.

So. Here are the facts as I have them in archived data provided by the school department.

1) The federal subsidy for military dependents peaked in FY 08 at $1,446,926. That was the year enrollment began to decline from it's previous levels in the 3,300 plus range. Still, if we had 660 military dependents in our schools, which was the usual published number, that would work out to the Navy paying just under $2,200 per student to our school system. Actual expenditures per student that year were $9,898 per student, not including state contributions to employee pension plans of $3,022,000, raising per student spending to $10,842. So in actuality, the Navy students were an overwhelming fiscal drag on the system, and their moving away was in essence a windfall for the budget, since the feds paid less than 25% of the actual cost.

2) Similarly, tuition paid by other districts peaked at $1,414,409 in the same year. If that paid for 200 students, the payments per child were slightly less than $7,100, or roughly $2,800 less than per student expenditures, and $3,800 less than "all in" per student figures. So once again, Durham students were in fact loss leaders, since they did not come with sufficient funding to cover their total costs.

3) As to the 100 employees laid off (I believe the advertised figure was 102), I inquired of the school Super to get the details of which positions were eliminated.

Here's the response I got:

"I don’t believe we are required to complete research on your behalf. We
thought it was a good idea to compile it and we are doing that when we
have time. You’ll have it when we are finished. Thanks, Paul."

Wouldn't you just know it; the compilation effort apparently fell through one of the numerous cracks in the system. The data was never provided.

But department data shows this: in FY 09, with 3,101 students, the Department reported they had 212 classroom teachers and a total head count of 510. That works out to 14.6 students per teacher. Two years later, with 2,564 students, they reported 211 classroom teachers and a total head count of 478. According to data published for the upcoming year, 240.4 classroom teacher are in the plan, for a student body in the 2,350 range. Which amounts to less than 10 students per teacher.

So one could easily speculate why that list of 102 positions that were "cut" never made it onto the table, so to speak.

Keep in mind that not that long ago we had four elementary schools, creating obvious inefficiencies in staffing, and especially classroom teachers. Now that each individual grade is only taught in one school, one might think classroom teacher staffing efficiency would be maximized, wouldn't one?

4) Oh...one more thing; the referendum to raise state support to 55% was sold with a promise that property taxes would decline 15% statewide; I think I still have the sign out in the garage. No-one anywhere saw their property tax bill decline, nor would they see it if state aid doubled. The schools would simply increase spending to consume whatever new money was provided. It's in their nature, and the nature of all bureaucrats and elected employees.

Kudos to Chew, who has posted some straight talk just below.

So the question is, oh wise one, just how much more funding would be enough in your mind, and how much should it increase year by year?

We'll be standing by patiently for your learned and more informed reply to the information provided above.

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