About a year ago, Dr. J. wrote regarding the New Atlantis budget which included a 13% property tax hike for Dr. J.
|Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want cost-effective schools, not excuses.
Dr. J. also discussed the increased budget for the New Atlantis Public Schools, a budget increase the NAPS spokeswoman derided as a cut because they didn’t get everything they wanted. The schools in New Atlantis are sufficiently mediocre (except for a handful of elementary schools and the magnets) that over half of the children zoned for the flagship high school are enrolled in independent schools. OVER HALF. Let that sink in.
Well, in the news this week, NAPS are projecting a $23 million shortfall in a $784 million budget. The public school flacks are blaming the $62 million budgeted for charter schools for the deficit arguing that that each student takes $9,100 away from his districted public school to the charter school. As a consequence the ‘fixed costs/pupil’ in the abandoned schools goes up eating away at the money earmarked for learning. Furthermore the charter costs are above expected.
|More spending. The wrong answer since 1970.
The defenders of the charter schools say to look at performance rather than costs.
Dr. J. believes that this is a bunch of hogwash. They received a $42 million budget increase last year. The money these schools have is probably being mismanaged.
Furthermore, we need only look two hours northwest to Indiana. Health insurance costs are causing their public schools to move employees to the part-time rolls. There is no reason to think insurance costs in Tennessee haven’t gone up, and that isn’t impacting the NAPS budget. But we dare not speak ill of Obamacare.
Fortunately, Big Skool isn’t asking for another tax hike, yet…they wouldn’t get one anyway this quickly.
They are looking at the following options:
- Eliminating ‘enhanced-option‘ schools
- Buying out retirees pensions with a lump sum payment
- Increasing class size
- Closing down the emptier schools.
With regard to the choices above Dr. J. has his opinions.
First and foremost, empty schools should be closed and consolidated. The space should be then be leased to tenants. In the event of a ‘new’ baby-boom these spaces can be re-converted back to schools. There would be sufficent lead time from birth to say, kindergarten, 5th, or 9th grade to allow the leasees to find new digs.
Second increasing class size in the middle and high-schools. The best data we have (per Master Yoda
) is that class size has a negligible impact on the education of older children. The impact is felt in kindergarten and perhaps first and second grade. Therefore, a 15-1 ratio in high school chemistry should be no different that 20-1. Seriously. High school kids should be able to sit still and pay attention whether or not there are five more desks in the room.
Buying out retirees pensions. This is a great idea. Ending the scourge of public service pensions is an even better idea. We cannot screw over folks who we’ve made promises to, but offering a buy out is fair. Furthermore cutting the cord for future retirees in a phased-out manner would go a long way to shoring up municipal, state and federal budgets. We’re simply paying far too many people that aren’t working not to work.
Lastly, eliminating ‘enhanced-option’ schools. Dr. J. isn’t a big fan of this idea. The enhanced-option schools include a Spanish-immersion school, which is a great school filled with the children of many of his hipster friends. If the Spanish emersion program, test scores in math and science (which are taught in Spanish) might creep up, but from a perception standpoint it is certainly a top-5 if not top-3 elementary school in New Atlantis. Dr. J. think’s it would be a solid number two if they dropped Spanish Emersion based on its location in an affluent hipster neighborhood. The other schools are located in the hood and neighborhoods in transition. They use alternate teaching models (Paedea
), have advanced curriculums, and enjoy longer hours. Dr. J. believes that these schools are boons their neighborhoods compared to the un-enhanced schools as he never hears anything bad about these schools, while occasionally he hears other schools in the hood spoken of with concern. He even believes there aren’t enough ‘Vo-Tech’ options anymore given the federal testing requirements, etc…
|Dr. J. isn’t anti-public school, he’s pro-value.
Indeed, Dr. J. would like to see the first three action items on his list squared away, and reassessed. If there’s a surplus, he’d request NAPS to examine how to enhance the curriculum in the remaining unenhanced schools.
Furthermore, Dr. J. would examine the academic and cost-effectiveness of the ‘year-round
‘ calendar introduced this year in New Atlantis. The public school kids are just getting off a two-week fall break. The kids enjoy the same amount of school but their summer vacation is shortened by two weeks that are added to spring and fall break. The last two weeks have been ridiculous. Whenever Dr. J. stopped off at a Starbucks or went out to lunch, he’s seen kids in tow with mom or dad for two weeks. If there’s a value added, he’d recommend they extend the required days, go down to one week in the Fall and Winter and shorten the summers to 6 weeks.