Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Miami-Dade School Board voted to extend superintendent Carvalho’s contract and negotiate compensation

Miami-Dade School Board voted to extend superintendent Carvalho’s contract and negotiate compensation

The Miami-Dade County School Board members voted to give board Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman the authority to negotiate a five-year extension (2020) for Carvalho, as well as performance incentives and a new compensation based on the superintendent’s “fair market value.”
Superintendent Carvalho has stated he has no intention of negotiating a budget-ruining contract, and said he’s waived roughly $200,000 worth of benefits and perks afforded in his current deal.
Superintendent Carvalho negotiated in 2008 a $275,000 salary, as well as a $900 monthly stipend and other benefits.
The majority of the individuals who spoke, a Teach For America representative being one, endorsed the renegotiation of his contract based on Miami-Dade County Public School systems 2012-2013 successes, such as the district winning the prestigious Broad Prize and it receiving voters’ support to issue $1.2 billion in bonds to fund school construction.
Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman proposed an extension and raise for Carvalho equal in percentage to wage increases recently given to teachers, principals and administrators. A committee of board members agreed to change the proposal to negotiate a salary at “fair market value” for public employees after board member Carlos Curbelo argued Carvalho was underpaid in comparison to other Miami-Dade executives of public agencies. School board member Marta Pérez stated that Miami-Dade County teacher's average salary is around $35,000 and the average Florida teacher's salary is around $47,000, placing Miami-Dade County teacher's salaries under fair market value. However, the average public administrator in Miami-Dade County salary is around $63,000 as opposed to the average Florida public administrator salary is around $55,000. This caused her to be alarmed because she does not want the school board agreeing to this raise to be seen as fiscally irresponsible.
The negotiated salary increase will have to come back to the board for final approval.
The feats we accomplished this year are amazing and I believe the success was due to the hard work and effort of the men and women who teach our students on a daily basis and to the students who work hard and accomplish the goals their teachers set for them.  Educational success is a communal effort, not an individual effort. I believe the majority of individuals would agree Superintendent Carvalho has done a good job as a superintendent and deserves to be retained and rewarded for his hard work, which is not in question.  The question is how much of a reward?  We, to this moment, don't have a number amount; we have a phrase "fair market value".  The vagueness of negotiating a contract based on “fair market value” has raised concerns as to what this number will look like? School board member Marta Pérez stated, "The truth is we are one of the poorest districts in the country,” and those realities are echoed in negotiations for the pay of teachers and was felt in the step increase given to teachers.
What Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman proposed seems a fair raise for Superintendent Carvalho. However, board member Carlos Curbelo argued Carvalho was underpaid in comparison to other Miami-Dade executives of public agencies and other speakers mentioned his accomplishments speak for why he deserves this raise; School Board member Perez refuted his argument.  The question still remains, what about teachers? We were just as instrumental in Miami-Dade County's success this year; don't we deserve "fair market value"?
Will we be met with resistance from the board when we come to the board to negotiate? Will being the poorest district in the nation have more meaning when the ones who were in the trenches are asking for "fair market value"? Will the same accolades be mentioned? These are questions that I believe will inevitably come up when determining anyone's value.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Governor’s Recommended 2013-2014 Budget May Not Cut it


Governor’s Recommended 2013-2014 Budget May Not Cut It

Governor Rick Scott is proposing a $1.2 billion increase in funding for K-12 public schools. There is no extra tax constraint attached to the governor's new budget. The budget accounts for 22,000 new students and is broken in to two categories: teachers' salaries and technology.  Governor Scott appropriates 480 million dollars to provide classroom teachers with a salary increase of $2,500, including benefits covering FICA and Florida Retirement Service. Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) will receive 57 million dollars to provide the teachers raises and the FRS associated with the Social Security and FICA.  This is subject to collective bargaining. The second category, technology, Governor Scott appropriates 100 million dollars to acquire devices and improve broadband to improve the digital infrastructure.
Governor Scott specifically allocates 122 million dollars to M-DCPS; 109 million dollars to the Florida Educator Finance Program (FEFP) and 13 million dollars through the technology grant. The money comes with instructions and expenditure requirements. The Governor appropriates 17 million dollars for school recognition funds and M-DCPS will receive approximately 7 million dollars; of that money will go to schools that maintain a letter grade of an "A" or increases increase to a “B” or higher, in form of performance bonus. Also, in the teacher salaries category M-DCPS would receive 2 million dollars for supply gift certificates. The supply gift certificates will replace the Teacher Led Program, which was given to teachers as a part of their checks, will now be given in the form of a gift certificate. In addition, in the teacher salaries category is teacher pension; M-DCPS will receive 23 million dollars to mitigate the employer’s increase of FRS contribution. This leaves the M-DCPS with 6 million dollars to address insurance concerns and other benefits for other classes of employees other than teachers.
Superintendent Carvalho stated he welcomes this "bold turn around that the governor has had in regards to education funding" and expresses his concern regarding the Governor's budget and whether it will cause financial problems in the future or come with "tightly wrapped strings" that will not help with teachers health care cost, security and maintenance of facilities, etc.  Superintendent Carvalho points out that Miami-Dade County has a larger year-to-year increase in regards to health care than anywhere else in the country. Superintendent Carvalho stated salary and health care go hand in hand and they play off each other.
School Board Member Raquel Regalado, asked what has happened to Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds that usually assist in the maintenance of the schools so that MDCPS does not have to revert to 222 bond funds to maintain the schools when there is already a fund that does this (PECO)? The response from the board was that PECO Funds are limited due to the expansion of charter schools. In addition, the 222 bond funds cannot be utilized to maintain schools but rather upgrade schools.  My interpretation of this is that 222 Funds cannot be used to change a light bulb in the school but it can be used to replace the entire light fixture. PECO funds are supposed to be utilized for maintenance. The superintendent stated he wants more details as to how the money can be used and is requesting more flexibility in regards to spending of the governors designated funds and he attends to go to Tallahassee to advocate for more flexibility in the usage of the governors recommended budget. 
Governor Rick Scott's decision to increase funding for K-12 public schools by $1.2 billion is in sharp contrast to his previous decisions in regards to education funding.  In 2011, Governor Scott cut the K-12 budget by $1.75 billion, which cut per-student spending by $703. Governor Scott also, in the very same year, revamped the state's pension system by requiring all public employees enrolled in the state retirement system to contribute 3% to their retirement and took a clear stance against public schools and in favor of charter schools. Furthermore, prior to Rick Scott’s term as governor, public schools received as much as $500 million in PECO funds, but by 2012 only about $55 million was available to public schools, because lawmakers (Governor Scott having a guiding role) decided to give a majority of it to charter schools. Governor Rick Scott's current approval rating hangs in the low thirties and has never reached above the mid forties in his three years as governor, therefore, it is hard to not see Governor Scott's new desire to "invest" in "public" education as a political stance to boost his approval rating in preparation for his 2014 campaign efforts.
Posse Foundation, INC. . . . Not a Bad Idea

Posse is a college access and youth leadership development programs. Founded in 1989, because of one student who said, “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me.” That simple idea of sending a group of students to college together to act as a support system for one another was the founding concept behind Posse. Posse identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse extends to these students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams—Posses—of 10 students. Posse partner colleges and universities award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships.

The Posse Foundation has three goals: To expand the pool from which top colleges and universities can recruit outstanding young leaders from diverse backgrounds, help these institutions build more interactive campus environments so that they can be more welcoming for people from all backgrounds, ensure that Posse Scholars persist in their academic studies and graduate so they can take on leadership positions in the workforce.
Superintendent Carvalho advocated for the program to come to Miami, and he read the names of the students who are recipients of the Posse Scholarship.
The concept of having a Posse as support system is a simple yet innovative concept I see working because too often students get lost in the newness and fast pace of college life and find themselves alone in the process but this program will help alleviate that problem. There needs to be something written about cultural diversity and how this may assist in this.

In a brief consensus vote the board voted on teachers’ raises, which were previously negotiated. Also, the district’s release of $14 million in federal Race To The Top performance pay, which this year will be distributed in lesser amounts - $7,000 max, compared to $25,000 last year - and to more teachers. Which teachers will receive payouts for their work last school year, and the value of those payments, remains under negotiation.
Principals, assistant principals, secretaries and district officials, including the cabinet of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, will receive 2.25 percent pay increases, slightly less than the 2.77 average increase for teachers. Raises will be retroactive to the Dec. 21, according to the district.
This vote was relatively quick and unanimous, Carvalho will not get a pay raise, however, Carlos Curbelo board member said last week during committee meetings, “You’re (Superintendent Carvalho) not included, but that’s probably something we should think about." It is my expectation that a raise for the superintendent may be in the future.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

D-22 Authorize the Superintendent to Implement the Principal Differentiated Compensation Model (PDCM)

The Miami-Dade County Public Schools School Board Members unanimously supported The Principal Differentiated Compensation Model (PDCM) in order to be in compliance with Florida Sate Statute F.S. 1012.22, which states each district school board shall adopt a salary schedule with differentiated pay for school-based administrators and also to be able to attract and retain high performing principals in the hardest to staff schools. The PDCM must vary based on the several factors that include but are not limited to, membership, economically disadvantaged status, reading levels, school configuration, exceptional student education, and persistently low achieving schools.  A committee of principals and district personnel convened to review the differentiated compensation criteria and to develop a compensation model for principals that would meet the PDCM requirements and be cost neutral to M-DCPS. The PDCM is not a salary increase to principals but rather a supplement.  The committee met over the course of a year and a half to come up with the M-DCPS PDCM that met the Florida State Statute requirements.

The compensation model will allow for:
1.      All principals to receive a standard PDCM base salary
2.      Supplements to he assigned to each school site based on the following factors, as applicable:
a)      Full Time Equivalent (FTE)
b)      Percent of Economically Disadvantaged Students Receiving Free and Reduced Lunch
c)      Percent of Students Reading at Levels 1 and 2
d)     School configuration
e)      Percent of Students Participating in Exceptional Students Education Programs
f)       Persistently low achieving schools as identified by the District and/or State
3.      Supplement amounts designated for each school will be recalculated every two years with the exception of the persistently low achieving schools supplement, which will be adjusted annually.
4.      Schools with FTE of 200 or less are ineligible for a supplemental adjustment.
The model will be reviewed annually.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spoke on this item and stated he supported it and felt it was a move in the right direction.  Superintendent Carvalho made it clear this is not a tool to evaluate administrators and also stated the PDCM is in line with teacher incentive pay and would provide 1 million dollars in incentives to current principals.  Superintendent Carvalho stated he was not opposed to adding assistant principals and non-school site administrators into the PDCM in the future.

I am not clear if the PDCM is a tool to reward principals who work in the lowest performing schools for their due diligence or if the principals who work in low performing schools will be less likely to receive supplements from PDCM. That is a point in need of clarification. I found it interesting Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and several other school board members made it clear this is not used as a tool to evaluate administrators but more so as a reward.  Nevertheless, as is the case with teacher incentive pay when you do not receive money it is the assumption that you were not successful and therefore have been evaluated negatively and is in itself a form of evaluation.  A concern I have with administrators' supplements being tied to student performance and FTE is the effect it may have on the dynamics in the school in regards to more testing pressures and IPEGS evaluations based on principals success or failure in regards to PDCM.  PDCM is new and seems equitable that administrators receive incentives for the role they play as stakeholders in students education, however, I hope there is not a backlash on teachers from this new incentive dangling in front of administrators.

A-1 Release of High School Grades

Superintendent Alberto spoke on what he considered to be one of the hallmarks of our success this year, the release of the high school grades. Back in July of 2012, the points were given for all schools, but the final high school grades were not seen until six months later, the end of December. Superintendent Carvalho called it an example of student performance, teacher effectiveness and inspired leadership in our school district.  The outcomes were unprecedented and results.  Superintendent Carvalho listed the highlights:

1.      One-hundred percent of all high schools were a "C", "B" or an "A"
2.      Eighty-eight percent (49 high schools) of high schools were rated either "A" or "B" (outperforming the state).

Superintendent Carvalho turned it over to Gisela Feild, Administrative Director of Assessment, Research & Data Analysis who stated that this was the result of M-DCPS necessary compliance with Senate Bill1908 requiring that schools look past the FCAT and at other indicators including college readiness scores, advanced placement and International Baccalaureate (IB) enrollment as well as graduation rate that have impacted school grades for the last three years. In addition, the standards were raised with new cut scores and more rigorous FCAT and high school college readiness component focusing only on M-DCPS on time graduates and Federal Graduation Rate which only looks at students who receive a standard diploma, despite all those changes having one hundred percent of M-DCPS high schools being "C", "B" or "A" schools and sixty-three percent of the high schools being "A" schools. In addition, the at risk schools, which are the Educational Transformation Schools, showed great improvement in that three of the schools, Miami Norland, Miami Jackson and Miami Southridge are "A" schools.

The data regarding high school FCAT scores are tremendous and does show the work and dedication of all parties who are involved.  Ms. Feilds mentions new requirements have been very taxing on schools especially at the high school level.  However, it seems the new requirements, such as college readiness scores, advanced placement and International Baccalaureate (IB) enrollment as well as graduation rate have been very beneficial to high schools in regards to their school grades. It seems all of the new requirements have given schools new opportunities for success in regards to the "other fifty percent” of the FCAT grade. 

Tony Bennett was appointed Commissioner of Education and this brings changes within the Florida Department of Education. In his new capacity, Bennett has done away with the "One Grade Only Drop Limit" and this means a schools grade can drop from an "A" to an "F".  Also, beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, a score of 3.5 or higher will be required on FCAT Writing Assessment to be considered proficient.  At the high school level alone 86 percent of 10th grade students scored a 3.0 on the 2012 FCAT Writing assessment.  In addition the adequate progress requirement for the lowest 25% is back in effect this school year.  This policy can possibly lower a school’s grade by one letter. It appears our high schools are doing a good job of meeting the requirements for the "other indicators" nevertheless it appears the state of Florida is raising the standards on student performance on the FCAT.  However, as Superintendent Carvalho stated our district has done some "unprecedented and historic" feats in 2012 and hopefully 2012 is a good indicator of what our FCAT successes will be in 2013.


Superintendent Carvalho spoke on M-DCPS winning Race to the Top Funds. The use of the funds will focus on IPREP Math using hybrid blended Learning Environments in which every middle school will be impacted.  M-DCPS had the highest number of points, which means it had the best proposal in the country.

Superintendent Carvalho turned the more detail explanation of IPREP Math over to Ms. Milagros Fornell, Office of Innovation & Accountability. She mentioned focus of the grant was an innovative instructional program personalized student-learning environments.  The district award is approximately thirty-two million dollars, with thirty million dollars going to the project and two million for supplements.  The grant will last for four years and will begin next year and is based after the high school level IPREP program. This is a choice program for teachers and students and will serve as an introduction into common core.  Each middle school will receive an IPREP Math Lab; the lab will have three teachers and the teachers will receive additional planning during the day.

School Bard Member Raquel A. Regalado asked about "the student choice" portion because it was mentioned that IPREP Math is modeled after IPREP which is selective program for children who have above a 2.0.  Therefore, Regalado asked "is this program for students that are already excelling in mathematics or is this open to all interested students?"  Fornell responded this is open to all students regardless of GPA or math skills because the purpose is to bring all middle school students up to 8th grade Algebra I level.

It appears, as a district, we consistently win the "Race to the Top", however, my concern is what do we do when we get there? IPREP Math for middle schools is another opportunity to reach students in a crucial area.  Too often students say math is their least favorite subject and hopefully this program will reinvigorate students passion for mathematics and that passion will carry on to high school and college.  A great deal of money (approximately 32 million dollars) is being spent to ignite the spark in students regarding math using IPREP Math labs as the venue. IPREP Math labs will have three teachers, nice cozy couches, MAC computers and multiple interests building center that are supposed to draw out the inner math wiz in any student.  However, what happens when the students go to high school and their math classes are not as warm and cozy, but instead math class is just four walls, a teacher, a book and a possibly a Smart Board? Do we loose our math wizzes in 9th grade? I hope there is some longevity to this program spanning past four years.  As I mentioned previously, as a district we are great sprinters and we can win the "race to the top", but what happens when we get to the end of this four year grant? Where is the sustainability of this program? Maybe we should be less concerned with the race and more concerned with the journey.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013



Dr. Marta Pérez took the opportunity to reiterate her dissent at the last school board meeting for the Miami-Dade school district administrators having more earning potential under a revamped salary schedule.  Perez stated she did not appreciate the late notice of the changes to administrative pay ranges and felt pressure to not over vocalize her decent last week in front of the cameras.  However, she was fearful of the community backlash because of the recent passing of the bond referendum and stated "public criticism of government is that as soon as we get the money salaries are revised and that is what the appearance of this is."  Perez called the decision to approve D-21 with the last minute modifications a "self sabotaging mistake".

School Board Member, Raquel A. Regalado suggested that school board members should consider flagging any increase that is above the percentage amount that teachers received.

Last week, the School Board unanimously increased the maximum salaries possible for managers by 10 percent to 30 percent, or between $6,191 and $34,755, depending on the pay grade. The board also approved several new positions and promoted some individual administrators. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the new pay schedule is a needed adjustment, "giving the flexibility to retain and recruit top talent in the district, which has garnered national accolades, most recently the Broad Prize in education." Carvalho mentioned no administrators would see immediate raises under the revised pay plan, except for those employees who had specific promotions and moved up a pay grade. The new schedule impacts 1,300 employees considered managerial exempt, professional, etc. . .

The higher salary schedule was not well received with some teachers, who recently ratified a new contract that gave a 2.7 percent raise on average to instructors and a 2.25 percent raise to school staff like security guards and clerical workers.

United Teachers of Dade President Karen Aronowitz called it “unconscionable” to raise the pay grades that much. “It seems to me if 2.25 percent is all you can offer to the least-paid employees, that ought to be what you offer to the best-paid,” Aronowitz said. “In truth, it says that we pretend to value you." In the new contract, some mid-career teachers will see a pay raise of less than 1 percent, or about $300 more a year. While top-paid administrators who work outside of schools can now earn up to $174,000; the previous limit was $145,462. Non-school managers on the lowest pay grade can now earn up to $68,000, nearly $6,200 more than before.
Enid Weisman, assistant superintendent of human resources, was promoted to chief human capital officer, at a higher pay grade sent out a response to the negative reactions to the impromptu pay cap increases clarifying the pay caps impact.  In addition, Daniel Tosado, Chief of Staff also sent a clarifying response after the administrative pay cap increase was further publicized in a Miami Herald article. He stated, "Transparency is a hallmark of Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ administrative practices" and he also emphasized, "No current employee is at the maximum of the salary range, nor is any employee scheduled to advance on the salary schedule as a result of the new scale."
The word that sticks out at every school board meeting, especially the meetings focusing on the bond referendum has been transparency.  The bond referendum pasted, in part, on the promise of transparency. Therefore, there was no surprise at the public out cry from teachers and citizens alike who felt transparency was lacking in the last school board meeting when School Board member Perez and others seemed to be blindsided by the superintendent's changes in D-21 and yet it passed with some perfunctory statements of disapproval of the timeliness of them receiving the information.  We are living in a competitive society and individuals need to be encouraged to join Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) or staying in their current positions when there are competitive offers being posed to them, which is understandable.  However, I do not see the same vehement out cry to broaden the pay cap in regards to the second most important factor of the success or failure of M-DCPS next to students, which are the teachers. Frequently teachers leave M-DCPS to go to other professions that pay more or other school districts that offer a better salary package.   The need for teachers in M-DCPS is so critical that we are filling schools with Teach for America cohorts who are enticed to sign a three year contract to teach in the worse performing schools with the offer of up to $11,100 in education awards, loan forbearance and paid interest for two years. It seems the need to entice (through higher potential pay) our best and most prepared teachers to come work for M-DCPS or to remain in their current positions is just as vital.


Superintendent Roberto Carvalho shared that The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) released the 2011-2012 Federal Graduation Rates.  Graduation Rates was a step the FLDOE implemented to comply with The Elementary and Secondary Act Waiver. This allows states to compare themselves to other states and the data used for school accountability.  Superintendent Carvalho expressed his pride in M-DCPS performance, having a higher graduation rate than the state of Florida, we have met surrounding counties rates, which have less poverty and less diversity, which mean less English Language Learners, and accredits it to the teachers and support personnel in the school district. 

The rates only include students who received a standard diploma within a four-year time frame. M-DCPS scored 76% compared to the state of Florida's 74.5% and the rate of improvement is 4.7% as compared to the state that improved 3.9. There was 28,000 students in this cohort and over 17,000 of the students graduated. In addition, M-DCPS exceeded the rate in regards to all of its ethnic groups, Black students in M-DCPS out performed the state at a rate of 68.3% compared to 63.7%, Hispanic students had a 76.9% as compared to the state of Florida's 72% and white students in M-DCPS had a rate of 85.1% compared to Florida's 79.4%. 

Superintendent Carvalho attributes to following up with the students that drop out and bringing them back, tracking students, bringing kids out of the adult education program and back into "day" school.  In addition, focusing on student achievement and making graduating rates a focus and a priority ensure the students graduate on time. Focusing financial resources towards graduation rate and offering an 8-period day to "the most fragile schools" so they can get credit recovery during the day, as well as offering online credit recovery and restructuring the counselor process through offering Graduation Coaches as a resource to students who are in danger of not graduating, and offering Saturday School and Summer School course offerings.

It is delightful to hear M-DCPS is doing so well in regards to graduation rate.  It is very clear a great deal of money is focused towards the effort of making sure all students are receiving a quality education and graduating on time.  However, it would be remiss to not mention the “fiscal cliff” that could substantially impede progress. If actions are not taken to spare education, The National Education Association predicts services will be cut or eliminated for more than 9 million students, including 1.8 million living in poverty and receiving Title 1 services. 69,000 students in our neediest schools will suffer with cuts to School Improvement Grants. Nearly 80,000 education jobs will be lost at the early childhood, elementary, secondary and postsecondary levels.  We should advocate for education funding to be put at the forefront in the legislative discussions in regards to the "fiscal cut" or we may loose our strong footing in regards to graduation rate if we cannot fund the programs that are currently working.

Friday, November 30, 2012


Miami-Dade County Public Schools School Board Members and The United Teachers of Dade (UTD) Union President Karen Aronowitz signed into existence the ratification of the three-year teachers contract, which gives teachers a step increase, offers teachers about $30 million in raises in the first year and non-instructional bargaining unit members of the UTD an approximate 2.25% raise. 
Three-fourths of the money delineated to teachers will go to the 8,500 most experienced, highest-paid teachers, who will see raises between $1,250 and nearly $11,000. About 16 percent would go to the nearly 3,800 lowest-paid, newer teachers and lift their salaries to $40,000. The remainder, for some 8,000 teachers in the middle: about $300 a year.
There have been varying opinions on this agreement regarding the effectiveness of the ratification in assisting in rising health-care costs for employees with dependents and the limited dividend for employees “in the middle”.
UTD Union President Karen Aronowitz, stated the proposed contract preserves an option for employer-paid health care for employees. “Everyone moves forward, money in the pocket,” she said. With a “no” vote, she said, “An entire year can go without anybody receiving anything in their pockets.”
Health insurance costs are the second-biggest expense for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. South Florida has some of the most expensive health care costs in the nation. This year, those health care costs for the whole district are slated to total $386 million; the district will pay about $321 million of that, said John Schuster, spokesman for the district. The district’s chief of staff, Daniel Tosado, emailed teachers, stating, they wouldn’t move to a higher bracket for health care contributions based on any salary increase in the tentative contract. Alleviating a concern for teachers who could have potentially paid hundreds more for their family’s health insurance due to the raise.
At the school board meeting Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spoke to the item. He thanked UTD Union President Karen Aronowitz, the teachers who he mentioned waited “not so patiently for a very much deserved step increase” and Enid Weisman, Jim Hodge and George Garcia from Human Resources, Recruiting, Performance Management and Labor Relations who negotiated the contract. 
The Superintendent also mentioned that no soon as we sign off on this (ratification of the contract) we will be going back to the table again to continue the discussion which will seek to restore the financial appropriateness of our teachers after 5-6 years of economic devastation due to recessionary conditions, seeking accelerated compensation for early and mid-career teachers and assist and negotiate for more equitable steps for teachers and have conversation as to how we look at the release of teachers not just at the base of seniority.
The Superintendent stated the legacy contract (UTD current contract) is not perfect and acknowledge that it took three years to see a step increase. The superintendent also acknowledged there were objections to the contract due to fairness. He mentioned fairness was not up for discussion because that was what was in the books (contract). He pointed out it honored the contract and we have an opportunity to fix every element and bring equity at every step.
The contract ratification is considered by some as a bitter sweet victory for a number of reasons, one being that healthcare cost have increased for individuals with dependents as well as deductible cost have increased. Secondly, teachers in the mid-range of the salary schedule received a minor increase in comparison with their peers who are at the beginning and top of the salary schedule. Nevertheless, the fact United Teachers of Dade and Miami-Dade County Public Schools came to an agreement is movement in the right direction, teachers who have been frozen at the same step have moved after three years frozen and there is discussion of further step increases and negotiation of teachers pay schedule in the works for the near future.
Despite the contract being a three-year contract, the verbiage in the contract states, negotiations can be held ANY time factors change that affect the agreement.   In addition, the United Teachers of Dade successfully negotiated the employee only option to remain at no cost to the employee as well as guaranteeing teachers will not move to a higher bracket for health care contributions based on any salary increase in the tentative contract.   Furthermore, teachers are directly impacted by the passage of SB-736, which completely eliminated any type of job security for new teachers, even those rated Effective, or Highly Effective. The new language negotiated in Article XIII of the contract prevents principals from terminating new teachers who have received an Effective or Highly Effective rating without just cause. There is a great of work to do to bring the profession of teachers fiscally back to a state that is respected; however, small steps in the right direction are steps in the right direction nonetheless.


Voters approved the $1.2 billion bond referendum for Miami-Dade schools according to preliminary election results.
The measure aims to fix problems at aging Miami-Dade schools, suffering from delayed maintenance and few capital dollars, and also improve technology across the district. The money, borrowed from bond investors, would be repaid with property taxes over 30 years.
Its approval is a major win for Superintendent Alberto Carvalho who proposed the measure to the School Board in August and took a lead role in advocating for the bond in a fast-paced campaign.
At the school board meeting several speakers expressed concerns regarding the equitableness of companies being selected to fix the problems being faced in the aging school buildings. The speakers voiced concerns ranging from what constitutes a small business, to the prior concerns expressed by the NAACP regarding Miami Dade County Public Schools not using minority businesses in the past.  In addition, concerns with the repealing of the Business Development and Assistance Program, which promotes the development and growth of Minority/Women Business Enterprises, and ensure there is a maximum opportunity to do business with the School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida. 
The current members of the M/WBE expressed concern minorities will be left out of the bond referendum process once the program is repealed and replaced with something else.  Members of the board expressed the necessity to create an in-house program that differs to the federal government’s program. This program would have a lower threshold allowing for smaller businesses to qualify for jobs they would not previously be eligible for under the federal governments program.
Superintendent Carvalho mentioned it is necessary to repeal M/WBE because it is considered illegal and may cause problems in the future because it gives the appearance that there is priority to members who are in this preexisting organization. 
The bond referendum is something that demonstrates what good can happen when the school district and the taxpayers work together to do good for the students as well as boost the economy by utilizing local small businesses. The previous bond referendum was a disaster that led to questioning the fiscal decisions of the school board and the decisions and “back door” deals that were possibly made during that bond and therefore it is even more impressive that we were able to successfully get the constituents of Miami-Dade County to invest in an education bond again, the maneuver on the school boards part to remove themselves from any signs of impropriety before it happens seems to be the right call.
A-1 2012 Broad Prize in Urban Education

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho gave a few remarks on Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) winning the Broad Prize in Urban Education.  The Broad Prize is one of the nation’s top education prizes and was won by the Miami-Dade County Public Schools for its dramatic gains in achievements by Black and Hispanic students and for raising academic standards across the board.
The Broad Prize for Urban Education brings national prestige to the district and more than a half-million dollars in scholarships to Miami-Dade students graduating in 2013 who demonstrate need and academic improvement.
The district, which has been a five-time finalist for the prize, won this time with a unanimous vote by the 11-member jury.
Alberto Carvalho accepted the award given in the month of October in New York. He and several School Board members attended the ceremony at the Museum of Modern Art, where the announcement was made.
This prize opens up scholarship opportunities for 35 M-DCPS students who meet the requirements to win a $20, 000 scholarship.  The requirements are that the students graduate in 2013 from M-DCPS, have a weighted G.P.A. of a 2.7, enroll full time in a college, university or community technical school in the fall of 2013 for the entire upcoming year and show academic improvement from 9th grade to 12th grade, display financial need, be a U.S. Citizen and complete a Broad Prize Scholarship application by March 1, 2013. Winners will be announced in May 2013.
This is a great recognition of the hard work of the teachers, students and all other stakeholders of M-DCPS. This award shows teachers are teaching and students are learning.  In addition, the scholarship opportunity will make a difference in the future of several students who will find it easier to go to college thanks to the combined efforts of so many. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

General Obligation Bond Program


Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spoke to this item, "The funds will be used to enhance the safety of our school, improve access to technology, provide a dignified teaching and learning environment for school-site employees, students, and deliver an economic boost to our local economy by creating jobs and business opportunities in construction and related industries.”


Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spoke to the issue of equity by stating, “Where students are concerned we believe that one's zip code must not be an obstacle to accessing high quality, academically rigorous educational programs. The school district has provided new and improved education and created new learning opportunities. Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) has created, franchised, or expanded over 55 magnet and choice programs to schools in every corner of M-DCPS. Necessary technology upgrades and improvements to the physical plant of all schools will support the kind of learning environment that can literally propel our students into a successful future.

As one of the larger enterprises in the county, M-DCPS recognize that we have a responsibility to ensure equity in our procurement and contracting practices, thus providing opportunities for all vendors to compete for our business.  M-DCPS is committed to developing and strengthening local, small, and minority and women-owned businesses, as they are an integral component of the economic stability and long term prosperity of the community we serve. As such M-DCPS has implemented policies and initiatives designed to promote greater participation in procurement of goods and services in support of Miami- Dade's overall economic growth.”

Some of the initiatives to be implemented based on the concerns expressed by the community are:
·        Local Vendor preference policy
·        School-site procurement policy
·        Expand recruitment efforts aimed at identifying and retaining small, local minority owned firms
·        Promote greater diversity and equity in areas of construction and general procurement
·        Eliminate the bonding for certain projects under $200,000
·        Partner with community-based organizations to empower small and minority owned businesses
·        Expand outreach methods to communicate business opportunities
·        Report on progress regarding local, small and minority business participating in an open and transparent manner
·        Assist with job placement for local residents in construction apprenticeship programs and strengthen relationships with small and minority business community through internships, mentorships, educational opportunities and training programs.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated, “outside vendors will be at a disadvantage because the purpose of this process is to build the local economy."


Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spoke to the issue of efficiency by stating, “Over the last four years M-DCPS has transformed tis business practices, cut administrative expenditures in half, reduced administrative positions by 52 percent, delivered a balanced budget each year, reduced taxes the Board controls, steadily increased reserves, and realigned resources in support of a single strategic goal of improving student achievement.”

Superintendent Carvalho promises to bring “the same commitment to efficiency and excellence to the Bond program. A detailed listing of projects has been developed and is available at bondsforschools.dadeschools.net, which included improvements for every school in the District.  Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated,  "The roll out of the projects will not take ten years or even five years but will begin being delivered within the first year, however, will not exceed 6-7 years to complete. These projects will be delivered on time and on budget, and accountability will apply to every contract issued in the Bond.”


Superintendent Alberto Carvalho spoke to the issue of transparency by stating, “The Board and the administration have taken steps in the last four years to restore transparency to our school system, through stakeholders engaging in decision-making processes of almost every function of the district.

To maintain transparency in the Bond a 21st Century Schools' Bond Advisory Committee was created. It consists of citizens representing each Board Member district, the PTA/PSA, other governmental entities, business organizations, and community organizations to provide transparency.  The panel will monitor, review, make recommendations, and inform the public on the planning, progress and implementation of the Bond program, and no appointee will have an invested interest in any contracts with M-DCPS or any financial interest in any of the projects to be funded through the bond referendum. "

School Board Member, Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, addressed a question to the school board attorney, " The 21st Century Schools' Bond Advisory Committee we talked about and heard about ,what recourse do they have if the plans and projects they are reviewing [go against] the Superintendents guiding principles in A2?"

The School Board attorney, Mr. Walter Harvey, stated, "The 21st Century Schools' Bond Advisory Committee can bring any concerns to the school board and the school board will can act accordingly."

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also added, "This bond advisor committee sole purpose is to maintain transparency. The responsibility of the committee is to report simultaneously to school board and the superintendent under the witness of other entities (third party) like the inspector general."

School Board Member, Dr. Marta Pérez voiced some concerns, "[I am]particularly interested in the efficiency end, the superintendent mentioned 'the laser like focus' in characterizing his administration in the past four years, but this is a long bond (30 years) there should be something put in place to guarantee time lines." In addition, you mentioned a detailed list of projects however, it is not detailed enough at this point, and it is a very general understanding of what each school will be receiving.  My biggest concern is the oversight committee. I don't see where it states the oversight committee will look at fiscal restraints . . . looking at expenditures with a microscope to not waste taxpayers money. I would like to recommend to the superintendent the committee look at the previous bond and look at the criticism and determine how they are going to avoid this, step by step. Also, select committee members who are skeptics on the committee who are hard nose and looking and questioning. I will vote for it, but with those caveats."

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated, "You have my assurance the group will be diverse and were appointed by entities outside of the school district. Also, you have my assurance the committee has fiscal responsibility. They will review and monitor the performance of the program, the second is periodic advisement of the superintendent and the board and to your comment, and I think the skeptics are there. Last but not least it is there responsibly to make sure the annual activities are providing in writing to the community bypassing the board. They are responsible for edits to the agreements. Even though this is a thirty year bond, the total scope of the bond will be carried out in 6-7 years. It can be done and it will be done."

School Board Member, Dr. Marta Pérez stated, "The devil is in the details Mr. Superintendent, so when you state 'review and monitor performance' and then you said 'this means', I want the 'this means' portion you said in writing. The written report I don't know how we can guarantee these are good reports. Put together the logistics that will make it of substance."

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated, "Just like the devil is in the details, God is in the big picture. This item provides a big picture solution for our community. The best predicator of future success is previous performance . . . which shows we have the intellectual capacity to deliver on this bond as recommended.  The portion you mentioned you want in writing is in writing it was sent in a separate memo to the board. You have our full commitment."

School Board Member, Mr. Carlos L. Curbelo, had a question for the school board attorney, "Does item A2 authorize the establishment of the bond advisory committee?"

The School Board attorney, Mr. Walter Harvey, stated, "The item does reference the establishment of the committee."

School Board Member, Mr. Carlos L. Curbelo, "What I would like to recommend postponing the establishment of the committee until we know the outcome of the election and then establishing the committee according to the Boards rule making procedure, not leaving it in the hands of the administration. If the people vote for this referendum they are saying they are depositing a great deal of trust in us, 1.2 billion dollars’ worth. So we better own this entire process. I would like to offer an amendment to item postponing the establishment of the committee and having the board authorize the committee and not just have it established through a memorandum. Mr. Attorney is that something we can consider doing?"

The School Board attorney, Mr. Walter Harvey, stated, "It is possible, but it is up to the board to decide."

Vice-Chair, Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman, spoke, "Mr. Attorney a clarification and then a question, advisory committees are a function of the school board, are they not?"

The School Board attorney, Mr. Walter Harvey, stated, "There are three ways that a committee can be created however, no."

Vice-Chair, Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman, spoke, "I like to ask that prior to the committee establishment the school board discuss the components of that committee. We are the ones that are going to be held responsible.  We need to make it a committee that goes through the board so we can discuss the components."

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated, "[I] feel it key to constitute this advisory before election so the committee can meet once to see the needs list and budget, but I propose the board be established and then I will bring through the process of rulemaking which will take two to three months a formal way to make the committee in a way that complies with board rules. In addition, the board makes one voting member appointee and an alternate in case that person is absent."

Unanimously Approved

Having worked in a 30-year-old school building with leaks, outdated technology, and aging equipment and now in the state of the art facility that it currently resides in, I must say it is night and day.  The opportunities afforded to students through the technological updates alone are amazing, as well as the change in the attitude and the positive perception of the students, the faculty and the community is inspiring. Therefore, I agree with the superintendent, the school board and the United Teachers of Dade's opinion on this topic. The United Teachers of Dade stated their reasoning for supporting the bond, is because "teachers deserve to work in schools that are safe, have sufficiently modern technology, and are inviting to students, and unfortunately, the State of Florida is currently not sufficiently funding the capital needs of M-DCPS in order to build and maintain our schools." I believe everyone performs better when they feel they are appreciated and valued and this will be a huge statement of how much the tax payers in Miami Dade County care about investing in our future.

Credit Union + High School= Success
School Board Member, Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, recognized, Booker T. Washington High School for its successful National Academy Foundation Finance Program. The Dade County Federal Credit Union opened its doors at Booker T. Washington High School Tuesday and put the students in charge. Students enrolled in the National Academy Foundation Finance program will be experiencing and applying what they have learned in their classes and during their summer internship in a real business at the school.
Senior and junior class students in the Academy of Finance, under the management and mentorship of the Dade County Federal Credit Union (DCFCU), will operate a credit union branch that provides services to students and staff.  This program is designed to provide critical life-skills training in financial literacy develop career awareness, work readiness skills and positively influence student academic achievement.
The branch is staffed by students and designed to serve the financial needs of the school's staff and student body. M-DCPS supports this project as a strategy for aligning the curriculum to the seven industries targeted for growth under the One Community One Goal initiative.
I feel Booker T. Washington High School's National Academy Foundation Finance Program is a stellar example of the positive collaborations between industry and the schools.  It is essential for students to not learn in isolation, but to see what knowledge in application looks and feels like. Booker T. Washington and all the other excellent schools are incorporating programs that allow students to apply the knowledge that they have gained, are doing the students and the community a service. Now the students are invested in the education they are receiving and the community sees firsthand the fruit of their investment.