Thursday, September 22, 2011

HCDE #2 Duplicate Services


In Part 1 of exposing the waste taxpayers bear in paying for the Harris County Department of Education we focused on the fact it is OBSOLETE.  This is the 2nd of 5 parts.


#2 – Duplication
If you live in Harris County you already know about your local independent school district but it is time to learn about HCDE, the second district you are forced to support with your hard earned tax dollars. The Board consists of seven members whose elections, training, travel, meals, etc. are all paid with tax dollars. 

     Organizational Chart which consists of:
  • Board of Trustees
  • HCDE Attorney
  • Superintendent of Schools
  • Consultant for School Governance
  • 4 x Assistant Superintendents
  • 27 x Various Director/Management Positions

These 41 positions are needed to manage the 1,293 employees and extra contract labor. We don’t know the exact dollar amounts because HCDE salaries are not reported in the same fashion as every other public school district in the state if Texas.(PDF) Page 1-4

So how many faculty and staff is that per student?  Great question!!!
According to reports from Texas Education Agency (TEA) – the organization that the Texas Legislature puts in charge of collecting information and data on schools in Texas- HCDE operates 7 schools with a grand total of “0” students. That is right. TEA reports “ZERO” students educated by HCDE.

  District
  HARRIS COUNTY DEPT OF ED (101-000)

  District Type                 County                                  Region
INDEPENDENT        HARRIS COUNTY (101)    04

  Mailing Address                         Web Address
  6300 IRVINGTON BLVD        www.hcde-texas.org
  HOUSTON, TX 77022-5618

  Phone                     Fax                        District Email
  (713) 694-6300   (713) 696-0730    jsawyer@hcde-texas.org

  Superintendent                   Enrollment as of Oct 2010
  DR JOHN SAWYER            0



#Enrolled  Campus#   Campus name           Type of instruction
0
'101000001
HIGHPOINT NORTH CAMPUS
ALTERNATIVE INSTRUCTIONAL
0
'101000002
HIGHPOINT EAST CAMPUS
ALTERNATIVE INSTRUCTIONAL
0
'101000003
ACADEMIC BEHAVIOR CTR EAST
ALTERNATIVE INSTRUCTIONAL
0
'101000004
ACADEMIC BEHAVIOR CTR WEST
ALTERNATIVE INSTRUCTIONAL
0
'101000005
ACADEMIC BEHAVIOR CTR NE
ALTERNATIVE INSTRUCTIONAL
0
'101000006
ZENITH PROJECT
ALTERNATIVE INSTRUCTIONAL
0
'101000007
NEW H S
ALTERNATIVE INSTRUCTIONAL

All 7 schools in HCDE are reported by TEA as having “0” students enrolled. (You can search your own results here.)



TEA school report – Line # 3950-3956 shows all HCDE schools active with “0” students enrolled
Not only does HCDE report “0” students enrolled in their schools, HCDE is not reported by TEA Pupil Projection Reports.  But the TEA Payment Ledger show HCDE’s share of the Foundation Allotment from the state in 10-11 alone:
2010-2011 Foundation
District: HARRIS COUNTY DEPT OF ED, 101000
Payment Class: 1

TTTHCDESreadsheet


Now how can that be?  No students listed but all that money? It could be because HCDE operates “alternative schools”. Their own description is:
Students served on the ABC campuses have needs that are not met in their home districts for varied reasons. Two Highpoint Schools serve expelled and adjudicated youth in grades six through twelve. All students served in the Academic and Behavior Centers and Highpoint Schools are referred/placed directly from their home districts that have contract agreements with HCDE for these services. The ultimate goal for students served in all our programs is successful reintegration back into their home districts.” 

Either TEA has overlooked HCDE and not made HCDE report their students’ attendance, test scores, drop-out rates, etc. or TEA allows HCDE’s students to be included in their home school’s reports. But if that is the case, how can any district be expected to report a student it had to expel? Something does not add up.

So, if HCDE is a school district whose focus is NOT educating the children inside its district boundaries, just what do they do with the nearly $16,000,000 of local tax dollars they collect each year?

According to HCDE, they provide:
  “…educational resources to school districts and the general public throughout Harris County and beyond.  Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, and Head Start programs.  We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, school finance support and records management.  Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public.  HCDE is dedicated to the equalization of educational opportunity and to the advancement of public schools.  We impact the educational community through visionary leadership, shared resources and innovative programs. “  

That sounds good but just why does Harris County need a separate school district to do this? How do all the other counties in Texas (except Dallas) get by without needing to pay for a separate county department of education?

Simple, they use the Texas Regional Educational Service Center system as well as other organizations that specialize in educational support. TEA has Harris County assigned to the Region 4 Service Center which provides many duplicate services (pdf): Purchasing Cooperatives, Adult Education, Art Staff Development, Central Office Administrators Academy, Bilingual Staff Development, Choice Facilities Partners, Digital Learning, Educator Certification, ESL-ISOL, Virtual Instructor’s Academy (VIATx), etc. Around the state other service centers also provide duplicate services to HCDE. Region 10 provides not only Purchasing Cooperatives, but also Fiscal Management Services, School Finance Council Training and Financial Consulting. Region 20 provides Grant Evaluation and SBDM Training.

In a comparison of HCDE to some of its peers, MGT of America found that 26 of the 43 services offered by HCDE were also offered by Region 4 which is also located inside Harris County – a whopping 10.97 miles away from HCDE!

According to MGT of America’s report, others providing duplicate or similar services as HCDE are:
TX Entities SAME As HCDE
Page 3-9;viii;page 3-10;page 2-18 

TEA posts a list of 74 Alternative Schools in Harris County.  If you remove the 7 that are run by HCDE, and you still have 67 alternative schools in Harris County alone. (Pages #118-142)

ECI posts 7 locations besides HCDE in Harris County where their services are provided.

The biggest argument always used to keep HCDE open is the fact that a section of Head Start operates out of the HCDE building. We all know that Head Start is a federal program that operates nationwide. Different groups contract with the Feds to operate the program all around the country. Every normal person can reason that when HCDE shuts its doors, Head Start will still operate the same centers as it does now. All that will change for Head Start in Harris County is the location of this particular office and some of its procedures. Shutting down HCDE will NOT shut down Head Start in Harris County. The director of this Head Start program would be given a time window to update the contract with the Feds and then time to find a new office space. If they can’t figure out how to run it without HCDE, then they can travel all around the state to learn from all those who operate Head Start programs without the benefit of a local taxpayer supported county department of education building.

To quote the Fed’s: “Head Start programs have an indefinite project period. Therefore, once the grant is awarded, the organization will continue as the grantee agency unless they decide they no longer want the grant (relinquishment) or are terminated for cause. In these cases, the funds are still available for the service area and will be awarded through competition.”

Continued in Part 3: It’s Unconstitutional

In Part 5 you can sign the petition to stop this waste.

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