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Brainstorming Ideas Sent

March 24, 2010

It’s official! All the ideas that were generated this month by parents and citizens have been collated and send to the groups who can best evaluate and possibly implement them. Thank you to everyone who participated. If you have more ideas to help the school

  • with its budget
  • with winning School Choice
  • with reaching out to our community

you can still share them publicly or contact us a  to share them privately.

The main groups to which your ideas were sent were:

  • Town/Board of Selectmen
  • School Administration (Superintendent)
  • School Committee
  • School Principals

We have asked for their feedback on the ideas and once we receive that, their responses will be posted on the Results page.

You can see the full list of ideas here.

The other main group to which ideas are going is ourselves, the Volunteers!

Here is a list of just the volunteer ideas.

We will communicate the results of our volunteer efforts on our Results page as well.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob Fisher permalink
    March 29, 2010 1:55 pm

    Hi,
    I’m a long time citizen of Dennis, started 1’st grade in Ezra Baker and finished at DY. I feel for the town budgets and question some of the practices of the DY Regional School district which I feel has a lot of room for expense reduction of unneeded “fat”.

    First in today’s CCtimes where the article appeared on your efforts, there is a picture of the shcool’s sailing program, a really necessary sport for a few elite people.

    I used to commute to Boston for work and returned around 6pm each night. In the fall, I observed the school band practicing on the track field with all the lights on. First it seems to me that evenings should be free for students to study, not for extra curricular activities. And second, why practice at night when the lights are necessary; its an unnecessary electrical expense, schedule it in the afternoon.

    I live in West Dennis and go by the Ezra Baker school frequently, both when the busses are arriving and departing. What I observe is that there are nine busses which arrive and depart with very few students in each, generally less than 50% and perhaps less than 25%. When I attended that school, there were 5 busses used for transportation. If all schools in the system are similar, then eliminating 2 or 3 per school should produce VERY substantial savings, probably enough to fund the Yarmouth shortfall. In addition one of the busses makes its first stop at Tower Road, right across from the school. What happened to walkers? My kids had to walk to school in Billlerica and the high school was about a half mile away.

    In addition, while I have never precisely counted the cars in the parking lots of Ezra Baker, I have on several times counted more than 40 or 50 cars in the lower lot. As there must be fewer than 20 classrooms in the school, I seriously wonder what all the additional employees, as identified by the 40+ cars, are doing. It seems to me that 18 teachers and a dozen more administrative types should be sufficient to run the school. That leaves 10-25 cars unaccounted for. 10 people times $50,000 salary is a potential savings of $500,000 in one school. Multiply that by 5 schools and we have saved $2,000,000 dollars.

    Finally, I voted for the school budget at the combined meeting a few years ago as I very strongly believe in quality education for our childred. However, looking at the apparent waste of monies that I can observe, I question whether I would vote positively again unless the school committee makes more efficient use of its budget monies. I also believe that when a budget cut is necessary, the governing body, either the town or the school committee will make cuts where it is most “painful” to punish the electorate, such as cutting police and fire or teachers instead of looking at the overall budget and eliminating the waste.

    I applaud your efforts

    Bob Fisher

    • March 31, 2010 4:42 am

      Bob – Thank you for your comments. Perhaps your ideas about the buses could really make a difference. I will alert school admin to your comments.

      I can’t speak to the number of cars in the parking lot and how many employees there are, but I know that on any given day there can be several parent volunteers helping out with administrative tasks as well as in the classrooms. (I’m one of the volunteers) Also, there are probably more teachers than classrooms as we luckily have music, art, library, computers and gym to round out our children’s education. And there are teachers for special education, ELL classes, and other mandated programs, which often share rooms to fit into the school.

      I think we have to keep looking for ways to streamline operations and by passing along our ideas hopefully we can make a difference. Who knows maybe from our brainstorming ideas we sent along – along with yours – we will hopefully see the budget able to come down some.

      Becoming involved with the schools where the rubber hits the road I’ve been able to see firsthand just how lean the schools are run. And at the same time they are doing such a tremendous job.

      I’m so glad to have your support! Thank you!

  2. Carol Woodbury permalink
    April 22, 2010 3:23 am

    Dear Mr. Fisher,

    Thank you for your questions. I am so pleased to offer you the following explanations for your concerns. Yes, you did see a picture of our sailing team in the paper and we were pleased with getting this good press. The school budget does not fund this program. The boats are loaned to the district and all other expenses are covered by fundraising. Please rest assured that taxpayer money is not used for this program.

    However, it has been important for us to find ways to offer such programs. This helps the district compete for students through school choice. As I am sure you are aware students sometimes leave our district for other Cape schools when they don’t feel we offer what they are looking for. Barnstable, Nauset, Sandwich, Bourne, and Falmouth all have sailing teams. If we didn’t have this team, students might leave our district to attend another district that has this program, then your tax dollars would go with them to that community.

    While it may seem unreasonable that this would happen, it really does. Schools have to be competitive today. Our students want to be able to pursue after school programs of interest. It also helps them with their college resumes. Students who do not have a well-rounded resume of both academics and clubs/sports are not as competitive when it comes to applying for college.

    Please know that the band rehearses on the football field under the lights for two reasons. First, the football team uses the field during the daylight and both cannot be on the field at the same time. We do not have another football field in the district that the band can rehearse on during daylight hours. Our team also goes to competitions where they compete at night under the lights. These rehearsals prepare them for those competitions. Our band boosters raise close to $48,000 a year to pay for the expenses of the band. You may also know that our band has won many awards. In a typical year they always end up in the top three or four in the Northeast. They have marched in Ireland in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and in Disney. All their trips are paid for through fundraising.

    The students at Ezra Baker are in grades PreK-3. Perhaps it is difficult to see how full the buses really are from the street. I have been at Ezra Baker during morning arrival and I find that the buses are quite full. Sometimes parents do make a choice to transport their children to school by car, but our elementary runs are quite full. I would invite you to call me or Mr. Depin, Baker Principal and come for a visit. We would be happy for you to see first hand our morning arrival.

    Yes, you are correct about the bus stopping at Tower Road. There are two reasons for this. Route 28 is a very busy road and it is not safe to have children crossing on their own at that location. So this would require us to pay a crossing guard to be at that location for approximately $5,000 annually. It is more cost effective for the bus to make one more stop to ensure the child gets to school safely.

    Ms. Sullivan-Stone did a nice job explaining the number of cars in the parking lot. I will just add a little to what she had to say. In addition to classroom teachers, administrators, and the specialized teachers Ms. Sullivan-Stone mentioned we also have secretaries, cafeteria workers, and custodians. To save the district money in out-of-district costs for some children with significant disabilities Ezra Baker houses several highly specialized programs. In some cases the needs are significant enough that we might need two teachers with seven children or some children may need a teacher assistant with them at all times. These children also need the services of physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists or even occasionally a teacher of the blind. An out-of-district placement for students with such needs can cost minimally $40,000 per student and up. While we have a lot of cars in the parking lot we are actually providing these services in the most cost effective manner and most importantly, educating the children in a school within their school district.

    Finally, I would like you to know that I would never “play a game” with the lives of the children in my care by trying to punish the electorate for not supporting schools. That would be very dangerous and unethical. We have been taking many steps in the last five years to reduce expenses and eliminate waste. I am happy to provide you with a list, if you would like. We are now at the point where we simply have no other ways to tighten the budget any further without a loss of programs or creating larger class sizes.

    Thank you for asking your questions and giving me the opportunity to give you the facts. Thank you in the past for your support and if you have a need for any additional information, please feel free to send me an email or give me a call.

    Sincerely,

    Carol A. Woodbury

    Superintendent of Schools

    Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District

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