Principal Thoughts for May, 2014

It is hard to believe but we are closing in on the end of another school year.  I’d like to alert you to a couple of important announcements prior to sharing my monthly message.

To assist parents whose children ride the bus please take advantage of our  @PUEbusUPDATES twitter feed.  We will be posting bus departure times and any delays or transportation information of importance.

Muffins with Moms is next Friday, May 9th. Please RSVP by May 7th on the PTA website.

As mentioned earlier in the year, our classroom teachers and office staff need your help with arranging appointments and picking up at or before 3:15 each day.  It is a given, with the nice weather, that students will be going to another activity after school and that there will be periodic medical or dental appointments.  However, it becomes a major instructional distraction each time a student is called down to the office at the end of day, simply to beat the carpool line to attend an after school activity. Between 3:15 and the end of the day staff is still instructing, summarizing the day, and making sure students are clear on homework assignments.  As a result, your child needs to be picked up at or before 3:15 when there are appointments.  After 3:15 our office staff WILL NOT be interrupting end of the day classroom instruction for end of the day pickups.  Our staff tries to maximize the instructional day and cannot do this if there are end of the day interruptions.  Thank you for supporting our school’s primary purpose to prepare our students for the next level of learning.

Speaking of learning, Wake County Superintendent, Dr. Jim Merrill submitted his proposed school system budget to support learning to the Board of Education last Tuesday night.  It was unanimously approved.  Please take time to review the budget and how it provides clear information on how the proposed resources will be used to improve student instruction.  It also makes a strong statement as to how salaries are necessary to attract and retain quality personnel.  For more specific information and details as to why the approval of this budget is important please review the uploaded presentation to greatschoolsinwake.org.  You may also want to read the Letter of Support from the Wake County PTA Council-Link support letter.

Consider the following snippets from the presentation:

Did you know that

  • 85% schools met or exceeded expected growth on common core standards, 2012-13
  • SAT results up 7 points over prior year
  • SAT results surpass state & national averages by 93 points and 74 points respectively
  • 81% graduation rate highest point since 2005-06
  • ACT results exceeded state average

And of the Wake County Teachers that

  • 1,850 (16%) are National Board Certified (Pleasant Union has 10, one of the highest percentages in the school system)
  • 84% are Highly Qualified (All of the Pleasant Union staff is highly qualified)
  • 47% hold Masters Degree (Many of our staff have a Masters Degree and/or are National Board Certified)
  • 91.6% (rated based on estimates of student growth) met or exceeded student growth standards (Pleasant Union was one of the schools meeting this standard)

However, since the 2008-09 school year

  • Wake County has had a 10.9 percent increase in number of students but have received a negative 6% in county funding appropriation.  We have actually gone down in county and state funding.  North Carolina is now 48th in the nation in per pupil funding and in state teacher salaries.
  • As the 2013-14 school year, we are the 16th largest district in the United States (152,684 students).  We recently passed the Charlotte Mecklenburg in student population.  Unfortunately, the Wake County Schools lag behind other urban districts in per pupil expenditure (PPE).  Consider the data below.  149,127 (152,684 students now) times the $485 (the amount different from the state average) equals $72,326,595.

Per Pupil Expenditure Comparison in the State

School System

Avg. Daily Membership

Rank out of 115 Districts

State PPE

Rank

Federal PPE

Rank

Local PPE

Rank

Total PPE

Rank

WCPSS

149,127

1

$5,007

108

456

110

$2,085

28

$7,548

104

Charlotte-Mecklinburg

140,161

2

$4,924

113

$561

98

$2,188

22

$7,673

95

Guilford

71,885

3

$5,203

97

$715

97

$2,827

70

$8745

42

Forsythe

52,761

4

$5,327

90

$650

90

$2,256

80

$8,233

67

Cumberland

51,189

5

$5,051

107

$933

35

$1,704

58

$7687

94

State Average    

$5,395

 

$690

 

$1,949

 

$8,033

 
Difference from WCPSS    

$388

 

$324

 

$136

 

$485

 

Need I say more as to how our students and schools would benefit if they were funded at the state average. Further, this is significantly behind other similar sized districts in the nation.

Per Pupil Expenditure Comparison of WCPSS versus other similar size school systems

School System

2010 Enrollment

PPE

Rockville, MD

141,722

$15,582

Upper Marlboro, MD

127, 039

$14,020

Fairfax, VA

171,956

$12,554

Lawrenceville, GA

159,296

$9,278

Dallas, TX

157,111

$9,073

Why consider a 3.5% increase for WCPSS school staff?  Consider the following.

  • 2008-09 Salary Beginning Teacher –$ 34,462
  • 2013-14 Salary 5 year Teacher – $35,189
  • 2013-14 Salary 5 year Teacher w CPI (Consumer Price Index) adjustment – $32,432
  • Loss of $2,030 in effective wages
  • Does a 3.5% locally funded increase get the teacher back to 2008-09 levels?

3.5% increase = $1,232

Why should we invest in our personnel?

  • Is a strong school system essential for our county’s health & economic vibrancy?
  • Do successful businesses continue to re-invest resources back into their organization over time to maintain competiveness & grow?
  • What happens when businesses stop re-investing into their organization over time?
  • Is the vast majority of the WCPSS county appropriation request to reinvest in its work-force, with the remainder targeted to literacy, pre-k expansion, and other core business functions?

Why should Pleasant Union be concerned about the lack of reinvestment into the school system?  Look at the data comparison over time

           
 

2009-2010

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

2013-2014

Wake County SchoolResignations/Retirements

251

301

393

433

612

Pleasant Union has had one of the lowest turnover rates in the WCPSS system but that will not remain given the current financial conditions.  Staggering information considering that there have been 612 resignations/retirements and it is only the end of April. This is a 46% increase since last year.

  • 81% increase – retired w/reduced benefits
  • 180% increase – dissatisfied with teaching
  • 50% increase – career change
  • 131% increase – moved to employment outside of education
  • 270% increase – to teach in another state

So why do I bring this to your attention? 

If our school and system want to support our students, and future community leaders a better than average education resources they deserve better than average resources (human and physical) and to be able to attract and retain the very best instructional leaders.  The best industries and businesses offer the most competitive wages and support resources.

The Wake County Commissioners will be considering whether to fun the proposed WCPSS budget in the upcoming weeks.  They need to hear from you as to how you feel about the proposed budget.  We do not have to make excuses for wanting the very best for our children.  THEY ARE the future.

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