Saturday, May 31, 2014

"first take the plank out of your own eye..."

I kept having these words (it's Matthew 7:5) ringing in my head earlier this week, as the Worcester Public Schools' budget was before the City Council.
 ...first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
former English teacher...I think in quotes. 
This was the root of my query at our last School Committee regarding Human Resources: if we're going to talk about a schools/city HR merger, is there first going to be a discussion of the city internally merging their own Human Resources sections? The city has an HR division, but there's also HR staff in the library and in the DPW (from what I can find in the city budget).
Now, maybe there's a great reason for having HR staff in different city divisions. I don't know: I'm not a city councilor (and have no wish to be), this isn't under my purview, and I don't have standing to ask. I've also never heard it asked during budget or otherwise.
Likewise, there may be a reason for there to be finance staff, not only in the finance division, but in workforce central, the fire department, and the DPW (again, from what I can find); I don't know. I haven't heard anyone ask.
Thus, hearing a question on Tuesday about why the schools don't have our vehicles maintained by a city vehicle maintenance department is a little tough to take. The city has more than one vehicle maintenance department--DPW and police both have them, at least--and I didn't hear anyone ask why all the vehicles aren't fixed in one location.
And, again, maybe there's a reason for that. I haven't heard it discussed.
As for having the trash picked up by DPW: the city, too, is charged for trash pickup, but in the departmental breakouts, it's bundled into the "other personal services" section, so you can't find it without asking. So it's easy to miss that the city actually spends money on trash pickup. You can find it in the WPS budget--it's under "Facilities Ordinary Maintenance" on page 175-- because we have a breakout account by account, along with a school by school budget, rather than solely departmental budgets.
And again, maybe that's fine. It does mean you can't find trash removal without asking, though.
Finally, there's a reason why the body that votes the school budget also establishes the school district policies. We know, for example, the research around student transportation and dropout rates--it's usually found in the top reasons why students drop out--and we know how that ties to the budget. It's not a matter of faith for us; it's a matter of data.
So, by all means ask questions about our stuff. We're more than happy to answer. Just please, please know your own stuff first.

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