Thursday, December 30, 2010
Consolidation - Thinking Smarter not Harder
Consolidation. It's a good idea to save millions and recover pupil funding we should be getting from the state if schools operated at full capacity by state standards. The current focus is on regular elementary schools, but what about our magnet programs? We've done some math on the subject.
$767,386 in administrative costs could be eliminated if DSA's 322 students combined with, for example, Lakeside HS to create a "North Springs-like" magnet (Fulton). The redundancy in DSA's administrative and support positions of Principal, Assistant Principal, Counselor, Bookkeeper, Cafeteria Manager, Media Specialist, CTSS, Campus Security, Custodian, Paraprofessional, and Secretary cost DCSS $767,386 in annual salary and benefits.
The entire teaching staff (including all drama, dance, art, etc.) and small class sizes at DSA could be left TOTALLY intact while DCSS could reclaim the money to furnish Lakeside with 14 more Content Area (math, science, social studies, and language arts) teachers with Masters degrees and 5 years of teaching experience.
$1,157,546 in administrative and support costs could be eliminated if the Wadsworth High Achievers magnet program was housed in an existing elementary school while still leaving this educational magnet program TOTALLY intact.
Wadsworth has 153 students (state FTE figures) with 9 homeroom teachers, 2 Spanish teachers, and a Fine Arts Enrichment teacher. The redundancy in Wadsworth’s administrative and support positions of Principal, Assistant Principal, Counselor, Bookkeeper, Cafeteria Manager, Media Specialist, CTSS, 3 Custodians, Music teacher, Band teacher, Orchestra teacher, PE teacher, Administrative Assistant, 6 Food Services Workers, a Nurse, and a Media Specialist cost $1,157,546 annually.
Wadsworth has 153 students with a staff of 36, only 9 of who teach math, reading, social studies and language arts. The personnel cost alone are over $14,000 per pupil a year, mainly due to redundancy in admin and support personnel.
Chamblee Middle School, Chamblee High School, Southwest DeKalb High School and DeKalb HS of Technology North all share administrative and support personnel between the magnet and regular education students without any degradation of service for either group. On the contrary, the magnet students in these schools have access to facilities that can only come with larger schools. The rationale for consolidation is compelling, and could take much of the resentment for magnet programs out of the picture as cost per pupil would be more closely aligned with the regular education program. Many posters have said they have nothing against "choice" as long as the per pupil cost is brought in line with the regular education programs.
Thinking out of the DCSS box is critical if we are to preserve programs that meet the needs of talented students, provide parents with educational choices, and ensure content equity for students that stay in the regular education program. These financial efficiencies would grow exponentially if DSA, Wadsworth, Kittredge, DECA, Destiny, Dekalb HS of Technology South, Clifton, etc. were all housed within an existing school/facility and shared administrative and support personnel. Reduced facilities maintenance and utility costs would also add substantially to the cost savings.
It's odd that DCSS is so quick to increase class sizes and anxious to close neighborhood schools and redraw district lines all the while leaving millions on the table by ignoring cost efficiencies that should be put into place for these special programs. Although small schools will and must be closed and lines redrawn, it will be a bitter pill for those parents to swallow if DCSS's administration and BOE refuse to decrease the costs of these special programs and keep increasing class sizes for students.
Sources: DSA, Wadsworth and Lakeside website, 2010 state Salary and Travel audit, and DCSS salary schedule