Sunday, March 29, 2009

Devil in the Details, Part II

Here's what the Superintendent of Hardin-Houston Local Schools had to say after analyzing the Governor's proposal:

Letter to Superintendents of All 613 Ohio Public School Districts

I must admit, after realizing that our school district is to receive a 0% increase in FY2010 and 2% increase in FY 2011, as per the governor's proposed education funding plan, I became concerned. I certainly don't begrudge other school districts receiving double digit increases, but fail to understand the logic or fairness in the governor's plan. If you haven't done so, I urge you to read the 43 page special analysis report clarifying the governor's education reform plan. When I asked the governor during one of his statewide stops (Piqua) how these reforms were going to be funded, his response was "I am committing to you , if my plan is passed, that whatever your cost is beyond the 20 mills collected, the state will provide for the nurse, nurse's aides, all day kindergarten, and other costs in my education reform plan." I went back to my district and added up the amount of money (figures verified by our treasurer and county auditor) we receive from increased property values in a typical year from being at the 20 mill floor, and it is less than $20,000.

After studying the governor's analysis of his executive budget proposal, I estimated the additional personnel costs of what these reforms would be for our school district (which does not address everything- like adding a life and readiness course at the middle school grades, and providing resources for extended learning opportunites before or after the school day). Our ADM is 903 students. Here is our cost estimate (including fringe benefits) of what this plan, if enacted, would cost us in just the first year's time:

4 extra school days, eventually up to 20 extra days - figured by per daily personnel costs x 4:

All-Day Kindergarten:District already locally pays for this:

1 full-time registered nurse:

3 nurse's aides, 1 for each grade-band: K-5, 6-8, 9-12:

8 additional teachers and classrooms to achieve 15:1 ratio for grades K-3:

4-year teacher residency similar to what is required to medical doctors:
(Who pays for this?)

3 Family and Community Engagement Coordinators, 1 for each grade-band: K-5, 6-8, 9-12:

1 Social Worker, 1 social worker needed per every 200 economically disadvantaged students:

3 lead teachers to provide mentoring and professional development, 1 for each grade-band: K-5, 6-8, 9-12:

3 special education aides, 1 special education aide for every 2 special education teachers:

1 principal and 1 secretary, 1 for each grade-band: K-5, 6-8, 9-12:

7 non-instructional aides, 2 per elementary and middle grades, 3 per high school:

3 building managers, 1 for each grade-band: K-5, 6-8, 9-12, each assigned to non-academic duties that will allow principal to devote more time to educational leadership:

2 specialist teachers to achieve a ratio of 5:1 core teachers in grades K-8:

1 career technical specialist to achieve ratio of 1:10 of core teachers in grades 9-12:

Total: $3,485,000

If you would like to voice your opinion on this proposed education/funding reform plan, please contact your state representatives.

Then, in a letter to the Dayton Daily News, Mr. Scheu went on to say:

In our small school district of 903 students (K-12), Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed budget for the next two years indicates we will receive a 0 percent and 2 percent increase. Nearly 50 percent of school districts are projected to receive these minimal increases (or decreases), while the remaining 50 percent receive significantly more percentage increases; many are double-digit increases.

Is this what fixing the school funding formula and equity funding is all about?

Based on the governor's proposed educational reforms, next year's estimated cost alone for us will be $3.5 million. Nobody at any level of government has yet to indicate where this funding is coming from.

Much of this $3.5 million needs to be budgeted to pay for hiring additional staff to comply with the reform mandates. The vast majority of these required hires have little or no impact on student learning in the classrooms, such as adding nurses, nurse's aides, social workers, building managers, family and community engagement teams, etc.

All-day kindergarten and extended school year sound great. Now be responsible and show us where the money is coming from.

I am one superintendent tired of dealing with unfunded mandates.

John Scheu

So far, it seems only the large urban districts like the Governor's plan. In the past, it has been the urban and rural legislative districts which have been able to join forces to outvote the suburbs on school funding matters. It looks like so far the suburban and rural districts are apt to be allies vs the urban districts on the Governor's plan. That just means that there's a lot more politics to go, and we don't really know how it's going to work out for districts like Hilliard.

My bet remains as it has always been – that the plan will be tweaked to get enough support from the rural districts so that the rural+urban coalition once again emerges and sticks it to the suburbs.

Thanks to both the Columbus Dispatch Education Blog and the State of Ohio Education blog for

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