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Another year, another mill levy in Florence

By Richard Paris, Florence

Well, sure as the sun rises in the east, March comes and there is another “Mill Levy” in Florence! The school board uses this (levy) as the norm under the current state of overspending and under achievement with both the current administration and school board having no accountability.

The facts are simple and sad! What is this money going to be used for? Here are the simple facts:

A: The Superintendent in a non contract year last year, had his contract opened to receive a 3% increase so now as of 2012 will be receiving over $110,000 per year not including his 100% medical insurance which covers his entire family. By the way, he’s the only employee in the district to get that package. That’s another $15,000 per year plus his other perks, his salary is probably around $130,000!

B: Guess what the Mill levy amount is? You got it, $130,000 and friends, that isn’t one time, that’s forever!

C: The school population has shrunk from nearly 983+ students to now around 800 or under 800 by now. For each student lost the district loses about $5,500 in State funds – $1,006,500! Wow!

D: We have “four″ administrators instead of the two that “OPI” mandates. OPI accreditation 10.55.706 article (1) sub article (3) state schools enrollment between 551-1050 students are required to have two full-time administrators/principals! Having four has cost this community and children over $2,000,000 in 10 years due to administrative waste!

Think about this. The budget of this school is over $7,000,000 for 800 students. That’s $8,750 per student! There are out of district students which we receive $5,500 per year from State matching “ANB” funds, so we the taxpayers are on the hook for over $3,000 per student.

Darby last year hired a Superintendent/Principal for $75,000! We should only have a super/principal and another principal. That would save us over $200,000.00 per year including other staffing loss.

Sadly, there are many more facts, but seemingly many people in Florence may not believe how mismanaged this school is! We have the best teacher to student ratio in our high school for most of the state, with poor results! The basic HS graduate in Florence averages between $5,000-$7,500 per student in scholarship funds when other HS are double or triple that. In Missoula, one high school’s students receive an average over 20X the average Florence student!

When a team fails, it’s time to fire the head coach and in this case, we need less admin and a school board that can lead, not “blindly trust.”

The mill levy in Florence is strictly to pay for raises given by our school board to the entire staff. When was your last raise in these rough economic times? Don’t throw your hard earned money to a failed system! Vote no, I will be!

 

2 Responses to Another year, another mill levy in Florence
  1. Kevin O'Brien
    May 4, 2012 | 1:10 am

    Mrs. Knei, Rick is right on target with the truth about his statements. True that we have enough licensed staff to require a Full Time super, but due to the ever declining enrollment that theory no longer holds water. Another claim by McGee that points out his inability to manage. Were OVERSTAFFED! Salary this year for McGee was increased by 3% is now at $110,000.00. This you claim is a lie? Read the Missoulian, of figure out how to add up the benefit package that now exceeds $20,000 over the true base pay. Another figure you use shows $6,811/student cost at FCHS. If this were true then why is our budget over $7,000,000.00?? FCHS is below 800 kids in total enrollment. These figures call for a minimum of $$8,750/ student. If this is wrong then where is the extra $2,000/student going to?? This Mill Levy isn’t about kids. We need management!

  2. Kristin Page Nei
    May 2, 2012 | 5:00 am

    Dear Readers,

    Please do not be misled by the information provided by Mr. Paris.

    A)OPI Montana School Accreditation 10.55.704 (C) states: A full time superintendent shall be employed for any district with 30 or more FTE licensed staff or 551 or more students. Florence exceeds these number and is required to have one full time Superintendent. 10.55.705(c) School districts shall employ appropriately endorsed school principal: 1 full time principal for school with 18029 licensed staff or 250-550 students. In 2011-2012 the numbers are as follows: elementary School 22 licensed staff, 247 students; MS 18 licensed staff, 210 students; HS 23.5 staff, 252 students. Florence will be cutting back on admin FTE this next year.

    B) The District Superintendent makes $91,000 not the amount that Mr. Paris reported. Many school districts include the family of the superintendent’s health benefits. Mr. Paris could have found this out by a simple call to the school.

    C) Yes, enrollment has declined. What was not included above is that this was over a long period of time. It has declined from 971 in 2000 to 809 this year. There are many factors that play into this decline. Without doing a proper assessment one should not imply why the decline. Whether we have 900 or 800 we still have the same buildings to maintain.

    Mr. Paris forgets to mention that the Trustees have proposed to cut approximately $130,000 from the budget for the next fiscal year.

    D) Florence taxpayers get a great bang for their buck per pupil. Florence Carlton School District’s budget per pupil is $6,811 the lowest of all Ravalli County schools. FCSD’s tax levy per pupil is the second lowest in the county at $2,285 not $3,000 that Mr.Paris used in her letter.

    E) When a team succeeds you support them. We have a strong Board and Superintendent. They have achieved great progress including leveraging a small amount of general funds to secure outside funds to improve the safety of our school sidewalks and parking lot. We have great staff which has been publicly recognized for their achievements and is seen in the increases in our testing scores.

    Voters beware it appears a small group of individuals are manipulating numbers to advance a personal vendetta against our superintendent and members of the school board. When this happens our children lose.

    Please do not be misled by this information. Please show the children of Florence that you support them and they are worth your investment. Vote Yes on the Florence-Carlton Mill Levy on May 8th.

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