Ministry Response: Berkeley Institute Budget

August 22, 2011

Today [Aug.22] Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education Warren Jones responded to comments made by Bermuda Public Services Union [BPSU] Vice-President Mr. Jason Hayward regarding staffing and budget matters at the Berkeley Institute.

Mr. Jones said, “Whilst the nature of discussions between the Berkeley Institute and BPSU regarding the terms of work for support staff are a private matter between the two entities, I must respond to what I feel are irresponsible and inaccurate comments made by the President of the BPSU.

“It is no secret that the budget of the Ministry of Education was cut some 10% effective April 1, 2011. This cut has had ramifications across the education system with all schools including the Berkeley Institute having to make adjustments to meet the needs of students.”

“In a meeting with the BPSU last week, I informed the members present of the reality of our budget allocation and that our schools are seeking to work within that allocation.

“That said, the Country has seen the steps taken thus far to meet that budget allocation. Staff cuts were announced in June across the system. However, we are convinced that we can do more with less, and the reality is that everything remaining as is, is not an option.

“The Minister of Education has made it clear that where students have a need, that need will be met. The education of our students is of paramount importance. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to ensure the educational needs of students are met and that funding is provided for the operation of educational programmes.

“This is not a responsibility that the Ministry takes lightly. We monitor the budgetary situation of all of our maintained schools and have relationships with our aided schools who in turn advise us of their budgetary status.”

“As a part of our responsibility, we must also keep the Cabinet informed of any concerns which arise related to our budget and or educational programmes. I can assure the public that the Ministry is well aware of the budgetary situation and that there will certainly be no school closures as a result of any budgetary shortfall.”

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  1. d-reader says:

    f#$$ clowns

  2. sandgrownan says:

    If only they’d paid this much attnetion to budgetry matters when it was pointed out to them that we were heading into recession.

  3. Geza Wolf says:

    AWESOME, They have adds for alcohol on Bernews now!!

    Thankfully they make it clear that it tastes like ice tea. I don’t think Young people would like it if it tasted like vodka.

    Well making it slightly clear to drink responsibly. Even though alcohol itself makes you irresponsible.

    Maybe we can put up adds for twisted teas at Berkeley to help with funding?

    • PEPPER says:

      Geza, so what if they advertise alcahol on bernews !!! I guess you would have a problem if they advertised condoms… the year is 2011….it is all about paying the bills…….I will go out and buy some of this spiced ice tea….

      • YES MATE! says:

        Apparently there were budget cuts at Geza Wolf’s school and this is evident because he calls an ad, which is short for advertisement, add, which is what you do in arithmetic.

        • Geza Wolf says:

          Thanks dude, I was looking for a tutor on the weekends can you spare some genius for a loathsome moron? LOL

  4. RobbieM says:

    Why do they not start by cutting some of the excess staff from the Ministry of Education itself? This was one of the ‘highest priority’ items in the Hopkins Report and nothing ever happened. Why not?

    • Free Thinker (Original) says:

      Why Not? it’s called cronyism, they refuse to let go their friends and families that works for the ministry. This the reason why, Jennifer Smith as Premier and Education Minister, did not touch education reform, in a meaningful way. She realized that in order to reform the system, most, if not all who worked there, (Cronies)would have to be let go.

      When the decision was made to slash the education budget, the top heavy ministry should have been the first target. That would have given us the sense that they are doing what’s necessary, in a constructive way. But to cut the Education Budget on the backs of the schools, while leaving the top heavy Ministry untouched, is just plain unjust.

      • specialgirl4 says:

        Maybe your not really aware of the changes taking place at the Ministry of Education. If you were I think you would have noted that there has been changes to staff at the higher level, and many of the positions as recommended by the Hopkins Reoport have been slowly removed. All schools have had to deal with cut-backs. The use of sound-bites by the Union is a fight for its workers to have jobs, after all that is the role of Unions. But, there should be careful use of facts, as it regards the funding regarding schools. The Union has failed to provide a balance position to the issues. It was more of an attempt on their part to impress their members, that they are actually working on their behalf, as that is why the Custom department left the BPSA Union.

        • Free Thinker (Original) says:

          I take your point, but to say things are being done slowly, when what we need to fix the Education system is swift radical changes. If swift and radical changes, were to be made today, we would reap the benefits is ten to fifteen years, so this situation needs urgent attention. To pussyfoot around with it, while the Island goes down the drain is not sufficient.

          Now we have no money, to make the sweeping changes needed, because the money was used in areas, that could have waited and some was just squandered. The problem is, we don’t have visionaries as leaders, we have the typical politicians, who only reacts, and are not forward thinkers and this is compounded by the fact, that they are so out of touch with reality.

          Only a young and vibrant breed of representatives will make the changes needed to move us forward. I said it before and I will say it again, we need to get rid of the dinosaurs who are currently in control and in time we will.

        • RobbieM says:

          @specialgirl4, you obviously have insider information that is not available to the general public. As usual, another Ministry of Government that has no idea what direction it is going! The state of public education in Bermuda is a joke!

          By the way, the Customs department did not leave the BPSU, SOME customs officers quit (The union says that, under law, the BPSU is the only agency entitled to bargain on behalf of civil servants, and that Customs officers will not have any bargaining rights under the BIU – RG).

          • JustSayin! says:

            Custom Officers quit because they are now under Border Control which falls now into the same category as the Police & Fire Service which have their own unions. This was not thought out properly and the Customs that have been moved now under Border Control need to sought legal advice as they now do not fall under the BPSU.

        • sick n tired!!!!! says:

          @Schoolgirl: Maybe changes are happening slowly, but let’s look at the facts as they are . . . at the ministry level, there is a Policy Analyst and a Projects & Policy Officer – please help me to understand what they do every single day for eight hours per day, because clearly no one is following any policies, since for example in the education act, homeschools which house more than 6 students must be registered as schools, and at this time not one of them are; there is a permanent secretary and a commissioner of education – accordingt
          to reports the permanent secretary is handling the day to day running of the department so what is the commisioner doing?; there is a officer of academics and an officer of accountability – one job????; three assistant directors of schools; there a four psychologists for a total population of just over 5000 students, and it still takes almost a year for students to be evaluated; there is the head of student services (with no doctoral degree I might add), 3 education officers for elementary, middle and high school (divided into eastern, western and central zones, the latest of which no one can remember seeing an advertised post for); a special education officer for preschool and a special education officer for special education preschool; a professional development officer – but when you look at the calendar for the ministry, most of the professional development is principal driven or by the BUT. Then there are the numerous officers that deal with assessment and individual subject areas.

          Let’s contrast those numbers with our counterparts in the United States where districts have 20 – 30 thousand students, and there may be one assistant superintendant of elementary, one for middle and one for high school (these are equivalent to our officers and directors; in special education (student services) the most well financed districts may have two or three elementary, one or two middle and one or two high school supervisors; professional development is handled by the individual assistant superintendants and directors of special education with their teams; policy is handled by the superintendant and his assistant.

          So why in all of god’s earth are we wasting this insurmountable amount of money with all these persons for a district with just over 5000 students in total when districts with four – six times as many students are functioning with less??????

          Now let’s look at the implementation of the Cambridge curriculum, for which persons come down on a regular basis to assess what is being done; tests are sent overseas to be graded as if the personnel in our system is incompetent. What a major costs factor!!

          I don’t care how many different curriculums you put in place, if effective teaching and learning is not taking place then we are wasting money.

          We need to look at how much money can we save cutting those topo level overlapping positions and doing things effectively rather than just doing them any old sort of way.

          I could go on and on . . . but my blood pressure is rising the more I think about the foolishness we are doing with our children and then sitting around wondering what’s going on and why we are having the problems we are having – in paradise!!!!!

          Please excuse the typing errors if any . . . I did say my pressure was rising!!!!!!!

          • Get facts says:

            Well thought of answer and I completely agree with your logic. Hopefully the powers that be will also read this and realize we are not uneducated and unaware and we inturn need to start holding these jokers accountable. Remember, we put them there.

            • L says:

              @sick n tired!!!! I understand your frustration but your facts are wrong. School districts over the world differ in size and structure. You have picked one out of the 14,000 districts in the US for instance. Also you mentioned education officers and assistant directors as 6 people in total when there are only 3.

              very sensational but just not correct.

              • sick n tired!!!!! says:

                Go back and check my dear, I can name all of them!!!!

        • Rick Rock says:

          Specialgirl, there are 700 administrators at the MOE and 500 teachers. The government should fire all but 20 of the 700 administrators. We all know the other 680 deadbeats aren’t needed.

          Then, using the saved funds, they could hire another 150 teachers. That might actually improve educational standards.

          They could also start maintaining schools properly again like they used to in the 1980s and 90s.

      • Old School says:

        @ free thinker .. your first remark is 100% on the money.

        We had better results out of our ‘Dept of Education’ when they operated out of that old building on Cedar Avenue with 10 staff members .. Remember when , and NO cronyism ?

        • Free Thinker (Original) says:

          Bottom line is, this Dept. need, only about five or six personnel. Education must be left to the Educators. the ministry’s responsibilities should be limited to funds allocation and seeing to it, minimum standards are kept, overseeing the licencing of educators, school nurses and maybe some specialist.

          All schools should have school boards that are elected by the PTA. School Boards should be responsible for hiring and firing Head Masters, this way they are accountable to us the parents, (Not Politicians)Head Masters in conjunction with the School Boards should be responsible for the hiring and firing of teachers, and curriculum development and again, they will be accountable to us. So if a principal is not up to par, he is gone.

          I am not implying that each school, have their own curriculum, rather, all educators would use all resources available, along with input from all stakeholders and come up with what it is, we should be teaching our Children and how do we include them ALL!!!. Not just the ones that excel in this little box, they now call teaching. We should have the ability to teach even the ones that learn outside this little academic box.

          The schools that performs on or above standards will be rewarded and put on a pedestal. In short, how good or bad a school is doing, will be in the public’s domain. Not the way it is now, hidden, in the name of hiding incompetence and mediocrity.

          The system should be purpose built, to suit the demands of the Island’s industry. Not just for what’s available now but also prepare them for what’s to come. We need accountants, Insurance executives and the like. We also need Plumbers, Electricians, Carpenters and the like, We need them all. Now this is impossible to do, if our leaders lack the wisdom and foresight, necessary to lead us up this path.

          • Shaking the Head says:

            Totally agree with your comment and allocation of resources. Bermuda could and should be an example to the rest of the world how to run a succesful Education system. The problem is it will never happen because of the need to keep several hundred people employed to push paper, occasionally, at the MOE. The costs of these people should be reallocated to hire more teachers who can teach, and to expand the curriculum to include basic life skills – sewing, cooking, manners etc.

            • Free Thinker (Original) says:

              @Shaking the Head: You clearly understand what some of the problems are and what the solutions should be. I have spoken to a lot of Educators over the years and they also know what the problems are and have some good ideas as to how to solve them. I have raised a few children and see them off to Collage. So I too recognize what some of the problems are and what the solutions should be.

              We are spending way more per child on education than any other country that I am aware of. It’s just that the money is being spent in the wrong area. This is one Ministry, were the term “do more with less” will apply for sure. We just need the Ministry to have the right staffing levels, with people that are actually doing their jobs and also working in conjunction with principals and parents to better educate our children.

      • LaVerne Furbert says:

        Cutting staff at the Ministry means BPSU members would be affected. Remember, all civil (white collar) servants are members of the BPSU.

        • sandgrownan says:

          Frnakly, we don’t care which union represents which workers. The MoE is top heavy. More people behind desks than there are in front on children. That’s the issue.

        • Bermyman says:

          Why don’t you cut the regiment in half or downsize to a small professional force and give that money to Education. We train men for 3.2 years and pay them to cut trees for 1 day of the year, but we don’t have enough money to keep our schools open. The Government is to blame, not the unions not the people, the Government needs to put the funding where funding is really needed. It is a desperate situation.

        • Renaissance Man says:

          No that is incorrect. Not all white collar workers in the civil service are members of the BPSU. One can choose to not be a member, but would forego personal union representation because of that choice. The BPSU is the principle bargaining agent on behalf of the civil service. So, a civil servant can still reap the benefits of the bargaining on their indirect behalf by the BPSU and not be a member.

        • sick n tired!!!!! says:

          With all due respect Senator Furbert, are we to say that we should keep a top heavy ministry that has had a budget cut and needs to save money in order to save the jobs of BPSU workers, at the expense of our children. I would encourage you and others to take a look at what the Ministry is doing, how services are being delivered, what services are lacking in the best interest of our children.

          Contrary to popular belief, I do believe that the ministry had entirely too many paraprofessionals, in that every time a child bears left when all other bear right there is a call for a paraprofessional. We need to look at our services . . . are these children truly in need of special education services or are they in need of differentiated instruction. How many of these ministry officials actually spend time in schools to assess what is going on and then go back and look at the services being delivered or for that matter services not being delivered appropriately to meet the needs of our children. Effective teaching along with necessary services equals successful students. And a doctoral degree is not needed to figure this out. In the words of Marva Collins, “all you need is some crazily committed and dedicated teachers to make outstanding students.”

          What we have now is a system that relies on bodies not effectiveness!!!!!

      • Wondering says:

        Not only family friends in the DOA – all through government… they never do what the highly overpaid consultants tell them – so why even hire them in the first place – hmmm pperhaps they should have a study on that one

    • PEPPER says:

      I think we need to get rid of the education minister…she is in a fog…..

    • PEPPER says:

      Is Rolf, and walton still on the payroll ? and if they are we could save a hell of a lot of money if they were fired, why they were hired is beyond the right thinking public ……… but the cog has her reasons for their fantastic pay check and benifits…….

    • Rockfish#1 says:

      Nepotism + cronyism + church membership = Overstaffing!

  5. Family Man says:

    Bernews – you must have left something out of that article. I’ve read it three times now and I still can’t find where Mr. Jones actually responds to “irresponsible and inaccurate comments made by the President of the BPSU”.

    I read a lot of blah, blah, doing more with less, blah blah, take our responsibility seriously, blah blah, monitor, blah blah….

    Maybe that’s it. They’re issuing a longer press release but actually saying less and less. Doing more with less.

  6. Geza Wolf says:

    I cant make comments about your advertisements?

  7. ladybda says:

    they are crazy because now has our Bermudians that taught at Berkeley have no jobs!!!! but the ones who they kept are all foreign they should be the ones gone!!! see this is all crazy and mixed up…they don’t kno if they want Bermudians or foreign….the education system is all messed up now its affecting everything

  8. PAS says:

    The cost overrun on building Berkley would have fully funded the school for many many years

    • star man says:

      Why isn’t the PLP Government going after whomever appropriated the HUGE cost overrun on the Berkley building from the People…?

      I’ll give you 3 guesses who the major players are who stole it, and the first two don’t count.

      • sandgrownan says:

        Same reason the new “transparency” is merely playing to the gallery. There will be no investigations of Berkeley, TCD, the cruise ship dock, Fast ferries, health care policy, tourism dollars going to “odd” places….

        Too many had their fingers in the till.

  9. YES MATE! says:

    The Berkeley Institute has long been a Pee el Pee farm, I know because I went there. I remember Jannafa Smiff with her liberally applied lipstick telling us in so many words to eff the white man but only after we vote Pee el Pee. I also remember David Saul dropping by and telling us how the Bermuda economy works and the rest of the day was spent telling us that Saul is full of sh!t and we should just vote Pee el Pee and things would be so much better for the black man. Both Marc Bean and Marc Telemaque are alumni of BI and if these two mouthpieces aren’t up in arms over this budget cut and fighting against it then this means the Pee el Pee is well and truly out of gas, ideas, solutions and most definitely out of our money and have told those guys to keep quiet. The Pee el Pee are done, don’t vote for this lame bunch.

  10. stop the BS says:

    How many people work in the MOE and not at a school?

  11. Free Thinker (Original) says:

    @ sick n tired: :A special education officer for preschool and a special education officer for special education preschool” Are you kidding me!! I knew they had a lot of positions that they don’t need to have and even if it made sense having these, the bottom line is, they are not functioning.

    I can’t believe, the Ministry actually have preschool Officers when nothing is being done on this vital front. We can only say we have Preschools if they are a mandatory part of the education system. What we have is the wild, wild west, with each doing it’s own thing. Preschools should have a clear mandate to prepare our children for Primary school. It cannot be a situation, where only the well to do can afford this necessity.

    How can we reform and Education system and not take into account the importance of the Preschool system and how vital it is. All the good education models that work well, have a solid Preschool system.

    There are a lot of children who enters the primary system who have never even seen the alphabet. So from day one they are behind and most will stay that way until they graduate.

    Proponents will try to point out the few and I mean few, that have passed through this dysfunctional system and are doing great. Well I am here to remind them that, these individuals did not succeed because the system is great. They succeeded in spite of having gone through a dysfunctional system. Their stories are unique to their circumstances. One where you have someone being born with the genetically inclination to do good and more importantly, a parental environment that is conducive to such a child succeeding along with, a host or other support system, in that child’s environment.

    We can’t hinge the success of our children on the whim of how lucky or unlucky they are. All most be included. The ones who are coming from a home with the worst parental environment, should also have a shot at a good education. The current education model is a failure and will continue to be a failure as long as we keep neglecting children who are not academically intelligent but have a host of other intelligence.

    These are your artistic, mechanical, Athletically Intelligent children. Given the proper learning environment, these children will thrive. The current model pretends that they don’t exists, by teaching them in ways, which they will always have an up hill battle learning.

    It is no coincidence why some children love school and other hate it. The irony is, all children enjoys learning, they all just don’t enjoy learning the way they are being thought. If learning is difficult then it will not be accomplishing, that which it is set out to do. Don’t mistake this statement as saying, learning should not be challenging, there is a big difference. Some brains have evolved to be more piratical in the way the they see the world and some can handle the abstract world a little better than others.

    Our Innovators, Inventors, musicians, dancers, plumbers, Carpenters and the like, are reeking havoc in our society, (Gang-Banging) and we are wandering why.

  12. LIFE? says:

    Bacon, cheese, bread, beef, what do all these have in common with the situation at hand? NOTHING!!

  13. Spikes says:

    It is counterproductive to indiscriminately cut staff without closely evaluating the consequences of such action. Take for instance the Tax Commissioner’s Office. Why in the world would they cut staff to the point where the office is barely functioning. The Tax Office is our highest source of revenue, if anything they should be given additional staff to collect the revenue. God knows we need the money. Just doesn’t make sense.

  14. Free Thinker (Original) says:

    It is incomprehensible how we can have and Education Budget of $128,000,000. At a cost of about $25,000 per child. Where the heck is this money going. Not in educating our children, I would argue.

    I say privatize the system, with each school having a aboard of Governors that will run each school. Have the schools compete for funding through performance based achievements NOT TEST RESULTS! Allocate about $20,000 per child to take care of educating them and plant maintenance. I guarantee, we would have a better system.

    The private schools operate on less than that and do a better job. And they are not even doing the best job that they can do. I am aware that they also get donations from philanthropists, but still, I doubt it’s costing them $25,000 per child. And even if it was, one could argue, they are giving value for money. And even them, are not as efficient as they could be.
    Bottom line is, we can do a better job than the Ministry has hysterically done and is currently doing.

  15. Wondering says:

    I feel if staff are willing to accept pay freezes and work less hours – keep them – anywhere….

    Government has dumped stuff in our backyards for far to long – their consultants local or otherwise – cut them, freeze all salaries across the board including their own, cut the treaties. We, the people of Bermuda are cutting back on lots of things and many families have just about lost all of their savings and spread all over this Island – because of loss of jobs one way or the other – will things get better – not if this government doesn’t take their head out of the sand sooner rather than later…. How many read the article about Jamaica and their school system in difficulty – heads up folks our’s isn’t far behind…..

  16. Wondering says:

    How about this: there is a class at CBA “Functional Skills” – children dress in CBA Uniform but aren’t invloved in of the classes – basic carpentry, music, choir, drama, language, basic motor, basic anything. All they are taught by rote(?) is money, time, money, time. If there is a play or skit it is not with the drama class, when it is CBA’s Sports day, these children are set aside from the really good kids and have their events across the National Stadium. Why in the world aren’t these children included – discrimination or out of sight out of mind. These kids are talented in their own way and MOE and teachers need to stop labelling them and encourage them in all ways possible. There are girls in this class who could go to the Beauty Classes, guys who could go to learn ho wto cut hair, motor mechanics…. give these children the opportunities that the ‘normal’ kids take for granted. Also, this functional skills class went to the Special Olympics last year and came back “WINNERS” – did you hear anything about them and their achievements from Ms. Richards and those at CBA – nope, all you see when CBA sends out their newsletter is the great kids, the scholarship kids, the and that…. put focus on ouro Special Needs children as they are our future as well.

    • things that make u go hmmm says:

      i’m confused…what does this have to do with Berkeley?