Supt. Mike Faulk Meets the Press

Supt. Mike Faulk Meets the Press


Central’s School Superintendent  Addresses MFP, 2013 Legislature

EDITOR’S NOTE: Central schools Supt. Mike Faulk spoke to the Baton Rouge Press Club just before the end of the legislative session.  Faulk began as the first employee of the Central Community School System in 2007 and hired 400 employees.  The Central system is now the No. 2-ranked of the state’s 69 school systems, despite having 58 percent of its student population on the free or reduced lunch program.  Faulk is president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents and was recently named Louisiana’s Superintendent of the Year.

BATON ROUGE — Here are some of the questions and answers from Supt. Mike Faulk’s appearance at the Baton Rouge Press Club:
Question: What are the secrets to putting together an outstanding school system?
Faulk: Our success has been based on four things: 1) High quality teaching staff, 2) A manageable pupil-teacher ratio, which started at 20:1 and is now 22:1, 3) Making resources available to teachers in the classroom, and 4) Having meaningful professional development during the summer but not by pulling them out of the classroom.
Question: What about the breakaway school district in Southeast Baton Rouge?
Faulk: Local communities should have the choice to control the quality of their schools.  You need committed people in leadership capacities.
Question: What about the finances of the new school district?
Faulk: A lot of people questioned the fiscal capacity of the new Central school district.  But we’ve managed our resources.  We have a budget of $36 million and a surplus on hand of $10 million. [Editor’s Note: Central has no industry or major tax base.  It is primarily a residential community.]
Question: Are small school districts better?
Faulk: If a district is too big, it’s hard to manage.
Question: Would a new district impact the MFP negatively?
Faulk: If you have more and more districts, the way the MFP is structured, it could negatively impact some districts.
Question: Should the MFP be restructured?
Faulk: We should examine the factors that go into the MFP formula, such as net assessed valuation and sales taxes.  But be careful what you ask for, because you might get it.
Question: Are you against vouchers and school choice?
Faulk: Vouchers and school choice should be funded outside the MFP, but we recognize the need to provide school choice.  For example, some school districts, such as ours in Central, are starting virtual schools.
Question: What about teacher certification, is it important?
Faulk: When I was superintendent in Morehouse Parish, we had a shortage of certified teachers, and we hired teachers working toward certification.   They had three years to qualify.  But today in Central, we find no shortage of fully certified teachers.  If you have a quality program with proven results, you look for quality.  I have had experience with some teachers with alternative certificates who worked out well.
Question: How do the superintendents relate to State Supt. John White?
Faulk: When John White was appointed, we reached out to him, and he reached out to us.  But we feel he could reach out more.  There is a difference between listening and hearing.  We want to be heard.
Question: What about having two diplomas?
Faulk: We actually have three or four types of diplomas now, and it is true that not everyone needs to go to college.  We need to give students what they can use, and we need to do more career preparation.
Question: What important education issues are we not hearing about?
Faulk: Retirement.  Unfunded accrued liabilities will creep up its ugly head and devastate school systems and all state agencies.  In some governmental bodies, it is up 15 to 27 percent.  When you consider that 82 percent of our costs are personnel, you see that you have to do something. I expect that we will hit a brick wall, and it will be devastating.
Question: What about legacy costs [for retirees’ health insurance]?
Faulk: It encourages privatization.  In Central, we privatized from the beginning, in order to minimize future legacy costs.


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