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Challenges for Change school budget reduction targets $23.2 million

first_imgThe Vermont Department of Education mailed FY2012 individualized education spending reduction targets Monday to each supervisory union, supervisory district, and the three technical center districts across the state, as required by Act 146 of the 2010 Legislative session. Overall the recommendations are for a 2.34 percent reduction across the state in education spending in order to meet the goal of saving $23.2 million dollars. District-level recommendations range from a 0.5 percent reduction to a 2.68 percent reduction.The determinations were made at the district levels, but aggregated to the supervisory union level as the law requires. The determinations considered factors outlined in the law, such as per pupil spending, student-to-staff ratios and demonstrated fiscal restraint. The department examined data from the past four budget cycles on· total education spending,· spending per equalized pupil,· student enrollment to direct instruction staff,· direct instruction staff to administrative staff,· and student enrollment to administrative staff. ‘We expect most school districts and supervisory unions to take these recommendations seriously,’ said Commissioner Vilaseca. ‘And they will do their best to meet them, just as they responsibly reduced spending last year. This is new territory, both for our department and for local school districts.’The boards of each supervisory union and district shall notify the commissioner on or before December 15, 2010 whether their combined budgets will meet the recommended reductions. By January 15, 2011, the commissioner shall report to the legislative education committees the total projected amount of FY2012 budgets, with a detailed proposal by which the Legislature can ensure the targets will be met.See Page 76, sections E1 and E2, for this specific requirement at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/DOCS/2010/ACTS/ACT146.PDF(link is external). A complete explanation of the formula begins on the following page.Challenges for Change School Budget Reduction Targets Calculations Brief overview of methodologyFor any given data element, the percent change between any two consecutive years was calculated (i.e., the percent change in netted education spending from FY2010 to FY2011). Percent changes were capped at plus or minus 50 percent to compensate for very large percentage changes resulting from small changes in very small districts. Additionally, some data were either clearly entered incorrectly or not entered at all, resulting in very large or low percentage changes.The four years of data resulted in three percentage changes. Those three changes were averaged for a district. Again, to accommodate small districts, the averages were capped at plus or minus one standard deviation from the mean. As supervisory unions are different from school districts and perform different functions, a separate mean and standard deviation was calculated and used for supervisory unions and supervisory districts. School districts and the three technical center school districts used a mean and a standard deviation based on their combined data.The resulting average (capped if necessary) was divided by the relevant group mean to normalize the data. This figure became the weight for any given factor. The exception was the factor for direct instruction FTEs per administration and support staff FTEs. That factor had a low mean for the school district and technical center (0.15%), resulting in disproportionately large weights for a modest average (e.g., with a mean of 0.15%, an average of 10% results in a weight of 67). Therefore, the DI per Admin & Support weight was decreased by a factor of 0.50 to mitigate the effect of the small mean.Weights from the various factors were aggregated. To account for the varying magnitudes of education spending (Burlington versus Eden, for example), the total weights for a district were multiplied by the ratio of the district’s netted education spending to the netted education spending as a whole.Some districts had a negative total weight, resulting in a negative factor after applying the relative netted education spending factor. Statistically, it is valid to add a constant to transform the negative values to positive. This was done by adding a constant of 1 to all weighted totals. This result was then multiplied against the ratio of the required $23,200,000 reduction versus the netted education spending total (2.348%), to give a weighted percentage for reduction.That weighted percentage was multiplied by the netted education spending for all districts, SUs, SDs, and technical center districts. The aggregated targets for the State exceeded the $23,200,000, so a reduction factor of the legislated target divided by the calculated target state total was applied to each district, bringing the targets to the $23,200,000 figure.Source: Vermont DOE. 8.4.2010http://education.vermont.gov/new/html/dept/press_releases.html(link is external)center_img OverviewSection E2 of Act 146 of the 2010 Legislative session specifies that FY2012 education spending will be reduced by $23,200,000 from the FY2011 level, while achieving the outcomes for education listed in section E1. The commissioner of education is directed to develop reduction targets for each supervisory union and technical center school district.These targets were developed by looking at the member districts of supervisory unions, the supervisory unions themselves, and the three technical center school districts. Additionally, supervisory costs for Supervisory Districts were removed from the school costs (e.g., supervisory costs for the Montpelier Supervisory District were removed from the Montpelier School District costs).Entities excludedSchool districts excluded from these targets were districts that:did not operate a school and tuitioned all grades;belonged to a union school and tuitioned all other grades;were members of two unions offering combined grades K ‘ 12;were members of joint school agreements as individuals but data were aggregated to the joint school level and were included; andunorganized towns and gores.Data elementsData used were the most recent available for the following elements and are as reported by the districts:education spending (FY08-FY11);equalized pupils as calculated with the maximum allowable 3.5% loss (FY08-FY11);enrollments (FY07-FY10); andteacher / staff data (FY07-FY10)direct instruction ‘ all licensed teachers in the classroom;administrative and support staff ‘ central office staff personnel for both school and general administration, including paid teachers aides.Education spending for school districts was decreased by supervisory union assessments, costs for grades tuitioned, capital debt, and costs for technical center students.Factors usedThe above data elements were used in the following six factors:netted education spending (after removal of aforementioned costs);netted education spending per equalized pupil;enrollment per direct instruction staff FTEs;enrollment per administration and support staff FTEs;direct instruction FTEs per administration and support staff FTEs; andnetted education spending as a percent of total netted education spending, applied to the aggregated weights from 10 – 14.last_img read more

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Cyber War, a Strong Future Trend

first_img Currently we are under the impression that if there is a new world war, it will probably be in cyberspace, where there are neither laws nor restrictions, which can be a great advantage. The Internet also shows its dark side, maximized for use in military actions of espionage and sabotage, either by nations or any other non-governmental entity. The cybertroops may be used for both defense and for an ample offensive, hitting all sectors where there are connections and vulnerabilities. The problem is so present, that the United Nations studied a project to protect the state structures on the Internet and the organization of Cyber-Centers in NATO, anticipating the possibility that this new type of conflict will occur, and it is more possible today than a nuclear war. The threats generated by computer networks can be classified into five types, or what we call the 5Cs. A cyber threat is an effort to obtain non-authorized access to an online system, with the objective of extracting or manipulating data, violating the confidentiality, authenticity, integrity, or availability of the data within the system. Generally, it is performed by spyware, which may be introduced via legit software or via a Trojan virus. The same concept may be used for cyber espionage. Cyber war is defined as a group of actions adopted by countries against computer systems of other countries, with the objective of causing damage or interruption of services (see the Estonia case, in 2003, the first registered occurrence). Finally, Cyber terrorism is the use of the Internet to organize and execute attacks against critical computer networks, systems, and infra-structures, aiming to destroy or incapacitate them, as ideological motivations, causing chaos in the economy and inflicting fear in the population. We left cyber crime out, because of its criminal nature. In a way, their weapons are more precise and lethal than conventional weapons: until the super viruses are detected, they have already caused much irreparable damage to the opponent, similar to the effects of bacterial virus. A common characteristic of cyber war, as well as of other virtual threats, is that it becomes almost impossible to detect who initiated or sponsored such actions, because the trails left behind, most of the time, are part of the disinformation practice. However, the biggest threat to all countries is that they can also be triggered by non-governmental parties, driven or not by different motives, breaking a historical paradigm which governments previously initiated via their Armed Forces. *André Luís Woloszyn, Strategic Affairs Analyst By Dialogo February 12, 2013last_img read more

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Costa Rican authorities arrest Augustin Reyes Aragon, alleged leader of ‘Los Tarzanes’

first_img Reyes Aragon has been wanted for drug trafficking since 2010, when Nicaraguan police issued an arrest warrant for him. The OIJ had been investigating the activities of Reyes Aragon and Los Tarzanes since 2012, according to OIJ Director Francisco Segura Montero. Los Tarzanes, which is allegedly is run by Reyes Aragon and his six brothers, is suspected of smuggling cocaine from Colombia and marijuana from Jamaica into Costa Rica. Authorities believe Los Tarzanes operatives store the drugs in Limon for later shipment by boat or truck to Honduras and Mexico, or for sale in Costa Rica’s domestic illicit drug market. Los Tarzanes In addition to the arrests of the suspected members of Los Tarzanes, Costa Rica police and security forces have scored a number of successes against transnational criminal organizations engaged in the drug trade. For example, on June 10 and 11, 2014, the Costa Rica Coast Guard seized more than 4 tons of cocaine found on Costa Rican fishing boats off the Pacific Coast. The seizure was reportedly the largest in the country’s history. Costa Rican drug seizures have more than doubled since 2011. Costa Rica security forces have dismantled more than a dozen international drug trafficking operations since 2006, according to published reports. The capture of Reyes Aragon and the increase in drug seizures may indicate that Costa Rican security forces are improving their effectiveness in fighting drug trafficking, said Armando Rodríguez Luna, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Costa Rican security forces have improved their effectiveness in fighting Los Tarzanes and other organized crime groups “because they have improved their ability to protect the country’s border in the fight against drug trafficking, and they have continued to collaborate and exchange information with other governments in joint border operations,” according to Rodríguez Luna. Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this article. Costa Rican authorities have arrested the alleged leader of a Nicaraguan drug trafficking group known as Los Tarzanes. Agents of Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Body (OIJ) arrested Agustin Reyes Aragon, 40, on June 12. They arrested Reyes Aragon during a series of raids in the Caribbean coastal province of Limon. Security forces also detained three other suspects: a Nicaraguan man, a Honduran man, and a female whose nationality was not immediately determined. OIJ agents confiscated two AK-47 assault rifles, a vehicle and currency in the amount of $14,000 (USD) and one million colones during the raids. Wanted in Nicaragua center_img Los Tarzanes was founded in the mid-1990s as part of a drug trafficking network operated by the now defunct Norte del Valle Cartel in Colombia, Nicaraguan police have said. Operating primarily as transporters, Los Tarzanes operatives use go-fast boats and vehicles to move shipments of Colombian cocaine and precursor chemicals for methamphetamine production north for eventual sale to Mexican transnational criminal organizations such as the Gulf Cartel (CDG). Los Tarzanes was originally based along Nicaragua’s southern border. In recent years, as Nicaraguan security forces have increased patrols in that region, the drug trafficking group has increased its operations on the Costa Rican border. Costa Rican security successes By Dialogo July 02, 2014last_img read more

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French investors’ appetite for Indonesia’s energy sector remains high amid pandemic

first_imgBilateral cooperation between Indonesia and France remains strong amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The two countries will finalize several bilateral cooperations in the energy sector, Indonesian Ambassador to France Arrmanatha Nasir says.Arrmanatha said in a statement on Wednesday that the embassy with the French Business Confederation (MEDEF) had held an investor gathering for the energy sector in Indonesia on Tuesday. Sixty French companies participated in the virtual forum, at which Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arifin Tasrif was the guest speaker.”Potential French energy investors showed their interest in Indonesia’s energy sector potential. In the question and answer session, prospective French investors questioned the minister about many things, especially Indonesia’s future plans in renewable energy,” he said.They also discussed the B40 national biofuel production program, divestment plans in the energy sector, emission reduction commitments, the Mining Law amendment and its impact, and the ease of doing business in the energy sector.Arrmanatha asserted that Indonesia had a strong commitment to move toward a clean and sustainable energy system as reflected in the country’s General National Energy Plan (RUEN). Read also: Geologic time: Indonesia’s geothermal dreams deferred for 5 yearsIndonesia is also one of the countries with the largest gas and geothermal reserves in the world, as well as other energy sources such as wind, ocean waves, solar heat and biomass.”Another important thing is our political stability and the government’s commitment to create a conducive investment climate and increase the ease of doing business.”In his Tuesday presentation, Minister Arifin conveyed the opportunities and challenges of energy development, especially renewable energy in Indonesia.The minister said the COVID-19 pandemic had caused a decline in global demand for oil and gas, which in turn made it harder for the country to achieve its target of a new and renewable energy mix.On the other hand, the pandemic had presented an opportunity for the country to start implementing low-carbon development and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, he added.Topics :last_img read more

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​UK DB schemes ‘holding too much’ in growth assets, illiquids

first_imgUK defined benefit (DB) schemes have reduced investment risk in the last nine years as they have matured, but for some sponsors this process has still not gone far enough, according to a new report.Research by consultancy Barnett Waddingham showed that, as FTSE 350 DB pension schemes have matured, asset allocation has ratcheted down to 31% growth assets in 2019 – from 51% in 2010.However, schemes approaching buyout in the next five years had an average of 27% allocated to growth assets, which exposed companies to unnecessary risk, the firm said.Nick Griggs, head of corporate consulting at the firm, said: “As schemes have matured, a general de-risking has been inevitable, but corporates need to seriously consider whether they have gone far enough. “Especially for those close to the endgame, being proactive with your strategy is crucial in ensuring the level of investment risk matches the agreed objective, whether that’s an insurance company buyout or a run-off.”The consultancy said it would expect to see companies aiming for a buyout within two years typically holding 10-15% or less in growth assets. Those that were two to five years away should hold no more than 15-25% – although the recommendation depended on the individual scheme.UK DB schemes’ funding positions were still under threat from falls in long-term interest rates, according to the consultancy.“With economic and political uncertainty driving global bond yields lower, as investors look to move into safe haven assets, schemes can do more to neutralise the impact of this and reduce the volatility of funding levels,” it said.Some firms looking to buyout in the next five years were also holding illiquid assets, with 4% of their assets on average being property investments, the firm said.“These take time to dispose of, and are unlikely to be accepted by insurers as part of a premium payment for buyout,” it warned.Barnett Waddingham also said overexposure to growth assets – particularly illiquid investments – could cause cashflow issues. It said 90% of schemes were already cashflow negative, and one in eight FTSE 350 schemes had a cashflow burden above 5% of total assets.UK private sector pension deficit hits two-year highThe combined funding shortfall of UK private sector DB schemes hit £163bn (€182.6bn) at the end August, according to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), as stock market volatility increased and bond yields fell sharply.According to the PPF’s 7800 Index, which tracks the net funding position of UK DB schemes, the figure marked the biggest deficit recorded since May 2017, when the deficit was £168bn.Total assets increased during August by 1.5%, from £1,730bn to £1,756bn, but aggregate liabilities rose by 5.4%, from £1,821bn to £1,919bn.Data from Mercer released last week showed the aggregate funding position of DB funds linked to FTSE 350 companies declined, from a £51bn deficit to £67bn.Funding position of UK private sector pension schemesChart MakerSion Cole, Head of UK fiduciary business at BlackRock, said: “Whether a scheme is in surplus or deficit will largely have decided how schemes have fared in August.“Generally speaking, better-funded schemes have more hedging and are taking less investment risk so will have coped better with the market turbulence in August. Conversely, their underfunded counterparts who need to chase returns will have been hit hardest.” Nick Reevelast_img read more

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England players to honour key workers with names on training shirts

first_img(REUTERS) – England players will wear training shirts bearing the names of key workers before the start of the first test against the West Indies next month to honour their service during the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s cricket board said on Monday.The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said people whose names will feature on the shirts have been nominated by their local cricket clubs and include teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers and carers.The first Test is scheduled to begin in Southampton on July 8, with the last two matches at Old Trafford, as international cricket returns following its suspension in March.“As we get back to playing the game we love, we want to take the time to honour the brave key workers who went into bat for their country under the toughest circumstances,” England skipper Joe Root said in a statement.“It’s only fitting that we use this series as an opportunity to ‘raise a bat’ in their honour. We’ll wear their names with pride.”The ECB said the series would be called the #raisethebat test series in honour of key workers.“It has been a long and challenging journey to cricket’s return and while this pales in comparison to what the country has faced, we hope the #raisethebat test series will bring some enjoyment… to people’s lives,” ECB CEO Tom Harrison said.The novel coronavirus has infected more than 304,300 people in the United Kingdom, causing more than 42,600 deaths.last_img read more

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