This regional public affairs program includes Citizens League breakfast address by St. Paul Board of Education chairman Eleanor Weber, answering questions about tax increase ballot referendum and other issues, followed by superintendent George Young, discussing instructional television and daycare.
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Voters in St. Paul are being asked to approve of 3 mil increase in their property taxes to assist the city school system. The property tax hike is one result of the financial problems the school system faced earlier this year when it was unable to sell some short term bonds to finance operating expenses part of the solution to that problem required the Saint Paul school system to stop paying for current operations by borrowing against future tax receipts and state support payments to begin getting back into the black the district had to make significant budget cuts and ask the voters to approve a tax increase on the November 2nd general election ballot.The chairman of the school board and the superintendent of schools address that ballot referendum and other questions at a recent Citizens League breakfast in st. Paul this morning. We prevent their remarks first School board chairman Eleanor Weber response to some Citizens League questions about the tax increase and then superintendent. Dr. George Jung comments on instructional television and daycare programs in the Saint Paul School System calendar Weber has served on the school board for two years. She was elected chairman the summer. Dr. Young has been superintendent of schools since 1970. Now here is your Weber. It's a pleasure indeed to be here to talk to you about education is public school system in the city of Saint Paul and to answer specifically the questions, which the Citizens League sent to us. I will try to be concise and confined my remarks to Quest the questions sent so that you and turn can askAdditional questions if you wish the first question asked us is why is the same Paul Board of Education requesting voter approval of a three Mill property tax increase in the November election. This is the only means we have to help ourselves. If we believe that a crisis exists within the Saint Paul school system with regard to financing education, the board does believe it has identified a gap for the 7778 school year of three of five to six million dollars and that unless we want an exact repeat if you will of what we have just been through was the Budget Inn for the present school year of cutting everything drastically. We had better use all means available to us to find additional Revenue. We had a report fromBlue Ribbon committee which we appointed last bring others this citizens education advisory committee studied our financial situation and made many recommendations. One of the recommendations that made was that we go to the voters with a referendum give the citizens of the city a chance to hear the facts participate in the discussion and then decide whether or not they were willing to support an increase in property taxes. As I say, this is the only route open to us short of cutting the budget to help ourselves. So we are taking it how would the additional Revenue be used the increase we are asking for 3 meals with raised 2.49 million dollars. This is based on the present assessed valuations in the city, which might be a bit different by the time the levy was actually spread on the tax rolls.The board has had considerable discussion how the money would be used. It's a rather difficult question to answer because there are so many unknowns how wait we have established for this year board priorities in terms of educational program and these board priorities have been basic skills mandated programs such as desegregation special education programs are the things that we are required to do legally, but heading the top of the list has been basic skills. I do believe it's safe to say that these priorities would be discussed the board would decide whether or not there were priority what the priorities were going to be for the coming year.Other than that, I am not prepared to make any statement because the board has not made any decision among itself. I do want to make one thing clear. We are not talking about improving an educational program in that is in terms of adding things. We are talkin about the effort that we believe is necessary to maintain the program that we have at the present time and that we believe that the cuts this year have been major cuts which will hurt the program and will make it harder for the students to receive the things that they need in terms of good education. So we are talking about maintaining the present program so that we will not be forced into making additional cutbacks in the quality of the education available in the public school system. Would this be a one-time or permanent tax levy We have to abide by the state law which governs this matter which gives us the permission to do it says that the Levi would be permanent unless on Petition of the voters. There was another referendum putting the question of repeal to the voters voters voted to repeal then it would be repealed. However, the legislature could wipe out our ability to do it. There is also a legal question whether or not there is another statute which would limp and this would be the one setting up the Hue Farr's system in the state whether this statute gives us the authority to ask for this increase only for the coming school year 1977-78 or whether we can have it longer than that. This is something we will have to get an opinion. The second question what factors have contributed to the increasing cost of running the Saint Paul school system. The basic problems are the increase salaries for example for the school year 1974-75 Two from the school year 1970 475-275-7060 was an increase of 8.78% in salaries for teachers for the the difference from 1975-76 to 7677. What's 7.5% increase and similar increase the candy song for all of our other employee group as you know, we are under the requirement to bargain with all of our employees who are organized Collective late into bargaining units according to state law won ordinarily does not bargain in good faith and bargain on the basis of no increases. So we we have bargained and we have granted increases in salaries that are comprable to increases be Granted by other districts other school districts and by other governmental units such as the city, for example, when we settled our contract with the teachers, we would just under the Metropolitan average settlement. Are other costs have risen to others in our budget has been a 77% increase in the cost of heating fuel the 21% increase for domestic gas electricity 17% Water and Sewer 28% Are we have an estimate saying that the increased cost of energy by 1985 will lead to a budget of six million dollars just for energy purposes supplies of growing up. We are supporting the desegregation program. This is costing us money. The need to generate reports to a multitude of agencies is also costing us money all this adds to our operating cost. What priorities has the board used to guide its decisions about cut? I stated some of the priorities the basic skills, the mandated programs such as desegregation Title 9 special education. The safety of the children has been a factor in our thinking we try to maintain class size as low as possible, especially in kindergarten through 3rd grade level these then have guided are cuts and what kind of cuts have we made? I'd like to read off some of them for example in secondary education. We have reduced the number of teaching positions 116. We have reduced counselors by two principles by one Librarians by one and and clerical staff by 5. We've reduced the athletic budget from $731,000 to 577. We've cut the expenditures for Learning Centers by 34% We reduce the number of elementary teachers by 84. And make corresponding Cuts in Secretary clerical itinerant teachers one principle Labs 31 budget we have not cut is the special education. But budget is that mention special education is a mandated program and we are supposed to be meeting the individual needs or unapproved scribe basis for every child eligible for special Educational Services as defined by the state of Minnesota. We've cut the instructional Media budget by 22% the educational TV budget by 54% Health Services by 10% program and staff development by 7.6% this then gives you some idea of the cuts that have been made wave wiped out some field trips completely. The next question what factors have contributed to reduced revenues available to the Saint Paul School District? The guy I think there are really two things one is the declining enrollment. We are declining enrollment District. We had predicted a 2000 people lost four this year. We predicted to thousand people lost for the following year when we lose mm pupils. We lose a minimum of $960 per pupil. This is the amount we are permitted to spend per pupil by the state of Minnesota. So if you multiply the 960 by 2000 this comes out to 1.92 million. 1.92 million dollars, then we are coping as they stay with inflation just as everybody else inflation is a Keurig. I'm not sure what it's been so far this year if I recall correctly. It's been running some place between 5 7% a year, we have to do the increased paperwork this then gives you some idea of what has been reducing the revenues what additional Cuts will have to be made if the referendum is not approved. If we this referendum will raise no more than 2.5 million dollars. The that's only half the way cuz remember I said there was there was a gap. Of the five to six million dollars if the referendum is approved. We would still be left with a two and a half million dollar Gap. As I said before, this is really part of a total plan and the the total plan involves identifying putting together a legislative program presenting it to the legislature. We believe that we need to help ourselves. And this is what we are trying to do here. If if we do not pass this we will be short the whole amount of money. I do not believe that the legislature it would be willing to raise the basic Foundation a $220 per pupil, which is what would be required to raise the five to six million dollars. We would be sure the legislature might possibly maybe not I don't know be willing to help us halfway and raise the basic Foundation eight $60. Pickleball, I don't know. What cuts would be made the 80% of our budget is salaries. So I would assume that if we had to reduce our budget by a large sum of money much of the reduction would occur in staff. For example, every time we increase our pupil teacher ratio by one pupil, we estimate that we can save a million dollars in staff and teacher salaries. So if we had to save salaries save money, I'm sure one area we would cut would be in teaching staff and all other staff categories to If the referendum fails I have said that we will be going to the legislature but really not for additional taxing Authority but rather for additional state aid in some other form just what I don't know these that are my remarks and I'd like to turn the remainder of the time over to talk to him. As I said earlier, they next two questions do lead away from the discussion up to this point. First one to ask what trends can be observed the use of Television by the Saint Paul School District. I think just a few moments to recite my own credentials as they relate to the use of television in schools some years ago when I was in Illinois during the early 1960s was very much involved the use of instructional television. Take it orally with a program which was known as the Midwest program an Airborne television instructions called empathy in those days. I was represented to the state of Illinois on the board of directors Forum Patty also served as a consultant for a couple years to Illinois Bell Telephone Company in regard to the use of television in schools. I like I say that they the very great promise which many of us on the use of instructional television in schools has not been realized. It was very great promise seeing in the use of radio and schools when the radio first was invented than that has not been realized. Her great promise in the use of films in schools when films were introduced this instructional media and that promise has not been realized as well. It may be that those great promises for the use of these exciting creative ways to present information to students hasn't been been realized at least not fully realize. Because of the the inability of boards of education and and school faculties, first of all to be able to afford the rather large amount of of expenditure required in order to make certain the schools are fully an appropriately equipped to handle such media and then 2nd and Langley enough very complicated problem of scheduling such materials for you. So no part of students and often the television schedule just doesn't the job very well with the schedules have already been established in the schools. Is Saint Paul the use of television in the public schools that started several years ago? Are schools compared to other large city schools or relatively well equipped with television sets and over the past few years. We've been increasing the number of video tape recorders and players that are in the schools. Whoever is mrs. Webber has recounted to you and her portion of the of the discussion. We have cut that part of the budget to buy a 57% for this school year and the supervisor of that portion of our instructional program. That position has been removed. So that you can see so far as instructional television is concerned for this coming here. There will be a significant decrease in the amount that we will be able to do. First half of this time. We are using videotape. We do receive programs from channel to those programs are on tape. The instructional materials have been developed that are available and teachers will continue to use those programs that students will continue to view them. Second part of that question deals with the metropolitan area and are the school districts in the metropolitan area working together? On broadcast Oregon broadcast television an answer to that question is no we are not Channel 2 has attempted to bring about some sort of an understanding or correlation among several school districts, but with very little success Saint Paul and to some extent Minneapolis, but I think mainly think Paul has in the past Finance the programs that are on channel 2 for instructional purposes that is for you since school schools and many other school districts have used those programs. I think the word that is used by the channel to people is they have pirated those programs do not pay your fees for their use most of them do not but there's been no organized effort to bring us all together to do any planning but there is a chance for that as well. I think many of you here are aware of the growing interest over the past two years in some sort of Metropolitan area planning for public education legislation has been passed. We are now very much involved in setting up with the units in the metropolitan area and I see as a distinct possibility. They're planning for and prepped implementation of plans for the use of these various kinds of electronic media and in our schools including television. Last part of that question is could they do that and the answer is yes, they could real question is will they and we have yet to see? Then the last question in this series has to do with after school and preschool child care the role that we are playing in St. Paul in that and whether or not we see that the other maybe some continued growth. The the interest in such programs and programs before and after and during the school day dealing with the very young children children below the age of kindergarten and down to very young children the interest in that has been growing and they the research that deals with a very young child is is compelling that is the research that deals with the the opportunity for learning during those very early years and is wealthy learning growth potential during those early years and what the effect that is a research has to do with the kinds of a fact that the training or instruction may have during those early years. We are told and I believe it. That they are the greatest potential for growth and learning does occur from birth through the 4th of 50-year and somewhere during that. Of time of the the potential for continued growth and learning is is established in the young child. And it does seem too many Educators many other people including legislatures that many of the problems that many of our children face by the time they get to school could be solved or at least a deviated if some assistance were given to the child before the child ever gets to school at the Garden age the growth of the changes in the way. We we want to do things in this country that includes the equal opportunities for all of us regardless of sex for employment. And changing views in regard to the roles of males and females in families and else where there is a greater concern about and need for and desire for child care programs. We have had some such programs in Saint Paul schools or Early Childhood Program at Dayton's Bluff. The focus. There is not only on the child, but as well as equally on on parents. We have had a program for young children financed through federal funds call the tops program tots. I'm sorry. I can't remember what the t o t s stands for but that program has been dropped because of federal funding has been has been dropped. I believe however that we can look forward to expansion in that area. There have been bills percentage of the state is very much concerned if the money's be made available for such programs and there are many of us who feel that the illogical a place a logical Institution for such programs is of the public schools. I believe that and therefore my own concept of childcare young child care goes beyond simply taking care of the physical needs of the children and security for them during the day, but as well as educational needs That expansion and growth will only occur however with the with the governmental fun day at the state and federal level. No chance that the we see of funding at the local level for such programs as important as I believe they they really are George Jung superintendent of schools in St. Paul and Eleanor Weber the School board chairman District estimates that if voters approve the three Mill property tax increase taxes on a $30,000 Home in St. Paul Will Rise by about $30 per year. That figure does not include possible to adjustments from the circuit breaker tax relief program. So depending on a homeowner's income. The increase could be less. Superintendent young was asked after his former box to comment about the results of previous millage increase request in Saint Paul quite a way of putting the time when the school district was a department in city government and I'm trying to remember now all we had that sheet made out for us. 1964 was the last one for millage increased in the past. However, when I first came to Saint Paul 1970 that Budget year beginning in July of 1970. The millage was increased by about 22 Mills. In those days when the Saint Paul board adopted a budget that required additional Levy. The the board did that and then waited to see if there would be a a reverse or negative referendum. That's all there was no such referendum. Therefore. They 22 bills was with spread. Following that with new legislation, of course, that's no longer possible for st. Paul or any other school district. Would you have to go to referendum? Mrs. Webber told me 1964 was the last time and that time if they're having bond issue since that time as you know, I think 1968 was the bond issue which passed and then a few years ago. We lost one bond issue and came back again shortly after and then won the second time around during the debate on adoption of the budget the board was criticized by some for not cutting more top administrators from the staff, especially from the so-called superintendency a group which advises young and other officials at the Citizens League breakfast young was asked if transferring some administrators to top paying teaching jobs wouldn't result in the layoff of less experienced less. Well paid teachers the administrators whose positions have been eliminated from the administrative chart. For those few who go back to other jobs and there are few because many of the people decided to take early retirement and have done. So for those few that go back to position to receive salaries of those positions. They do not carry their administrator salaries along with them and as well, there are no people who are bumped as a result of the administrative moves or rather. They move of Administrators from possession, which of been abolished the board the antenna to cut the administrative overhead by an additional $160,000. The recommendation which I made the board actually produced a cut of about 170 a little over $170,000 three of those 11 people move back to other positions just 3 out of 11 move by the additional amount of cut will cover the expense of keeping three teachers on the staff. There were these people are going to bump any one and then during the school year through attrition or they're bound to be at least three people leave and then those positions would not be filled. No one gets fired or bump or anything of that sort and a salary to go back to the salary of the position to which the people go and at another time. I think I'd be very pleased to talk about what the so-called superintendents he is and what it is not. Super Tennessee, by the way receives. No salary that relates to being with a serpent, Tennessee and many of the salaries of other so-called middle management. People are much higher than several of the people actually set with the superintendent school board superintendent. Dr. George Jung and also her during the broadcast play chairman of the Saint Paul School Board calendar Weber the three Mill property tax increase request appears on Saint Paul City ballots on November 2nd.