Archive for Friday, October 19, 2012

Dems blast website seeking examples of school waste

October 19, 2012


TOPEKA ­— Gov. Sam Brownback’s call for Kansans to tell officials about examples of waste in public schools has drawn a sharp reaction from Democrats.

“We should celebrate our public schools and fully restore the funding cuts they’ve endured since the recession began,” House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said Thursday. “We should not be demonizing them and searching for excuses to cut their funding even more.”

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for Brownback, said the governor wasn’t trying to demonize schools but wants the public to help identify ways schools can improve efficiency.

On Wednesday, Brownback announced the establishment of a website where people can anonymously report their experiences with inefficient spending in the educational system to the Governor’s School Efficiency Task Force. The website is https://governor.ks/efficiency.

“Inefficient spending impacts Kansas taxpayers at every level, from the state general fund to local property taxes,” Brownback said. “Moving forward, we owe it to Kansas taxpayers to ensure those resources are used as efficiently as possible.”

But Democrats said the move was another attack by Brownback on public schools.

Earlier, they had been critical of the 10-member School Efficiency Task Force appointed by Brownback because it was dominated by accountants, including Brownback’s budget director Steve Anderson, and had no one who was an educator or worked in a school.

In the same news release announcing the website, Brownback also said he was adding an 11th member to the task force — Iola school superintendent Brian Pekarek.

“Brian is well-known as a superintendent who is open to new ideas,” Brownback said.

Democrats have alleged that the task force is going to be used to provide cover for Brownback to cut state funding to schools. But Brownback has said he will protect school funding.

Davis said, “Instead of hosting an online forum to complain about public schools, why not discuss all the innovative ways our teachers and administrators have done more with less since Gov. Brownback implemented the largest cut to education funding in Kansas history?” Brownback and the Republican-led Legislature cut schools by $232 per student in 2011, but then added $58 to base state aid per pupil this year.

In the news release, the governor’s office repeated its claim that only 54 percent of total school funding goes into the classroom for instruction, but Democrats and educators have said the governor’s office is not figuring the total correctly.

The task force’s next meeting is Nov. 9. Chairman Ken Willard of Hutchinson urged Kansans to visit the website and share information about school inefficiencies.

“While task force members are researching and analyzing where inefficiencies are occurring in our educational system, we also want to hear directly from Kansans who have their own ideas and suggestions on how to make our schools more efficient,” Willard said.

By late Thursday morning, the website had received 75 suggestions, Jones-Sontag said. She said the suggestions eventually will be compiled for the task force. She said she assumed the compilation would be available to the media and public, too.

Jones-Sontag said Brownback wants to increase student performance on state and national tests, and increase the number of high school graduates who are career- or college-ready. “The governor wants to make sure our spending reflects our education goals,” she said. “We want to put resources into the classroom, where teachers teach and children learn.”


costello 1 year, 6 months ago

About 35 years ago when my mom was working for SRS, they had a program where employees could get an award for coming up with ways to save money. My mom had discovered that if she sent applications for services without the envelope - just putting the address on the outside of the app and stapling or taping it shut - she not only saved the envelope, but pushed the weight down enough to save on postage as well.

Someone nominated her for this award - which included a $200 or so reward. We were pretty excited for a while - until workers at other offices protested it wouldn't work, because they were including a bunch of other crap when they mailed out applications. According to my mom they weren't supposed to include that stuff with the application, but nevertheless she didn't get the award. She did keep saving the state money by mailing the applications without the envelope.

Maybe this would be a better program? Reward the workers who do the job every day for noticing ways to be more efficient?


jackbinkelman 1 year, 6 months ago

Misguided, and will ultimately fail, miserably.


lunacydetector 1 year, 6 months ago

big screen televisions in the hallway used as a message board.

imported from germany, two legged ergonomic chairs.

a different architectural design for every new school built - why not stick with one design?

custom made three dimensional wall reliefs.

apple computers in custom made desks.

more expensive lazer cut aluminum lettering for signage.

overhead projectors built into the walls.

the most expensive institutional doors available.

etc, etc


Armstrong 1 year, 6 months ago

I would love to see an article by Rothy - or anyone as to why streamlining ( cutting waste ) from education is a bad idea.


classclown 1 year, 6 months ago

Did KansasConscience feel appropriately smug when (s)he clicked the submit button that posted that comment?


dabbindan 1 year, 6 months ago

yup sam, gotcha's might be useful information and actually help reduce expenses.

however, how about softening the cudgel some by including a place to make suggestions that in a positive way could improve efficiency and contribute to reducing expenses. that way, even if you didn't really mean it, you could make the stakeholders in the educational picture at least think YOU think they did something positve and useful as they struggle to educate the children of kansas.

my suggestion to you would be to hire a more effective public relations manager. in the interview, ask them to share their understanding of the concepts of negativity, punitive, antagonistic as well as concepts like positivity, helpfulness, collaborative.


George Lippencott 1 year, 6 months ago

KRichardsoffers: "That's not the point. The point is letting those who know best reduce waste. Those are the school boards, board of education, principals and administrators"

Moderate Responds: Kind of like many on here demanding massive reductions in military spending with nary a clue as to the impact.


paulveer 1 year, 6 months ago

Seventy-five? I can tell you for a fact that a very large number of these and future hits are to complain about the site itself, and the process it represents.

I would guess that 95% are probably just that.

I would also guess 4% are personal grudges and the like.

And I would guess that if they wade through all of that and fully investigate all claims, they might find less than 1% contain information on legitimate, fixable inefficiencies; information which could (and is regularly) be obtained by the school boards responsible for dealing with such matters.


Trumbull 1 year, 6 months ago

I wonder who pays for the coffee in the Capital building? They can save a few bucks. Is there a website to post this?


consumer1 1 year, 6 months ago

PAul Davis Is a wimp and a Liberal panty waste puppet.


Satirical 1 year, 6 months ago

Are Kansas Democrats seriously opposed to discovering wasteful spending? If the media wasn't so liberal, this would get national attention, along with a plethora of jokes from every late night comedian.

If the National Republican Party is the "Party of No," the Kansas Democrats must surely be also. Oppose everything simply because you don't like who is in charge of the Executive Branch! Great idea...


Liberal 1 year, 6 months ago

Are most of you people saying there is no waste in public schools? If someone sees the Government wasting OUR money then it should be our responsibility to at the very least tell our representative...It is interesting that the Dems seem to want to protect waste....Why is that?

As far as repairing the capital it has been supported by all administrations. Now I agree state and federal buildings should be concrete tilt up bunker style buildings as opposed to the grand structures they waste money on, however once one is built you have to take care of it.


autie 1 year, 6 months ago

Then Brownie will have to 'pay' someone to ferret through the complaints. Investigate the validity. Wean out all the bogus vindictive disgruntled, axe to grind, don't know what's going on BS ones (which should be about 98%).

A total waste of time. Almost as big of waste as that drug testing welfare recipents. Why does Brownback spend tax dollars attacking windmills?


OonlyBonly 1 year, 6 months ago

Republicans - Proactive Democrats - Reactive


question4u 1 year, 6 months ago

WICHITA – A major aviation firm is requesting that Kansans report examples of waste in the firm's operations. A spokesman for the firm said, "We are asking anyone with no expertise to leave anonymous comments on our website. We especially encourage participation from anyone with a grievance, no matter how trivial. We would particularly like to hear from those who applied for employment at our firm but were deemed unsuitable. Real experts aren't turning up the waste, so now it's time to bring in the amateurs."

Some have objected to the firm's website as counterproductive. The spokesman responded, "We have found that we are able to recruit top employees by cutting operations budgets, instituting ever more stringent demands for accountability, and asking the general public to anonymously disparage our employees and our company."

Jane Doe, a prospective employee at the firm, was excited by the new website. "It's one of the reasons that I want to work here," she said. "I graduated summa cum laude and had the opportunity to major in other fields in college, but when I heard that this firm had an obsessive suspicion of its employees and was even recruiting informants I realized that this was for me. Shrinking pensions, constant battles over wages, and all the signs of massive impending cuts were just icing on the cake."

In Brownbackistan backwards land just keeping beating things down and they will grow like never before.


1 year, 6 months ago

My comment on the webform. I expect the black Chinook to come get me at any time.

This is little more than a witch hunt.

You will end up with spurious complaints most probably generated by parents of Little Johnny got a bad grade and it's the teacher's fault. I see teachers doing everything they can to be the "popular" teacher out of fear of reprisals from the State.

If anything, this is a waste of money. You spent money to get this built and coded. You're going to spend money so someone can review comments before they get to Torquemada - a waste of time. You're going to spend money sending someone out on the witch hunt

Further, there's no indication of where the comments go, how they'll be analyzed and who at the school district will get the comments.

These "anonymous" comments will gain you nothing. You disgust me.

Finally, if this is being used for research, you are violating 45CFR46 regarding Human Rights Protections, in addition other laws regarding the same.


toe 1 year, 6 months ago

Reporting waste is a civic responsibility.


atiopatioo 1 year, 6 months ago

Some Americans are so greedy. They want Kansans money, give their kids worldwide middlin' rated education, then get mad when their secrets are exposed by comments from the people giving them the money.

If the greedy didn't keep secrets, the people supporting the greedy wouldn't need to expose them.


Keith Richards 1 year, 6 months ago

How much money will be spent investigating each of the anonymous responses?

First respond on the website: "I saw a school bus idling for 10 minutes with the engine running. That is wasting $2.34 of diesel fuel everyday. Please find someone to investigate this Brownstripes."


Number_1_Grandma 1 year, 6 months ago

"Whats wrong with pointing out where the tax-payers money is being wasted? What are they afraid of?"

Do we get the same courtesy of doing this on Brownback's administration that is waste to taxpayers? Let's hold Brownback to the same scrutiny that the teachers/schools get?!


Constitutional_Malfeasance 1 year, 6 months ago

Government waste must be roped in. Things like robotic squirrels to see if rattlesnakes would try to eat them.


tomatogrower 1 year, 6 months ago

It's the anonymity of the comments that trouble me. Of course, if he promises to not believe everything that is submitted without investigating it, then it would be ok. But I know a lot of people would say the friend of my girlfriend's stylist's mother-in-law said...


tbaker 1 year, 6 months ago

Whats wrong with pointing out where the tax-payers money is being wasted? What are they afraid of?

Lets say I give $100. You spend all of it, $75 on legitimate uses, and you waste $25. The next budget cycle I give you $75.

How is removing the waste cutting funding? You got the same money for legit expenses as you got the last time.

Of course "waste" is in the eye of the beholder, and this goes double for a government operation. Defining waste is very difficult for government to do because cost and value choices are driven by political motivations and have nothing to do with what makes the best economic sense for the delivery of a competitive product or service.

This is yet another example of where government fails and the private sector succeeds.


sci4all 1 year, 6 months ago

Wonder why Brownback hasn't proposed this anonymous anecdote gathering for every other part of the Kansas system?


Paul R Getto 1 year, 6 months ago

Anonymous complaints on the Internet, eh? How does due process work here? Will the accusers wear bags on their heads when they testify? The East Germans would be proud.


Jackie Jackasserson 1 year, 6 months ago

Read, Brian is well known as a superintendent I can manipulate.


GardenMomma 1 year, 6 months ago

"On Wednesday, Brownback announced the establishment of a website where people can anonymously report their experiences with inefficient spending in the educational system to the Governor’s School Efficiency Task Force. The website is https://governor.ks/efficiency."

It's not anonymous when you need to submit your name, email, and home address on the form.


kansasdaughter 1 year, 6 months ago

75 hits on the website is considered 'blasting'?


Flap Doodle 1 year, 6 months ago

So the Democrats want to conceal examples of waste in schools?


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