Thursday, September 27, 2012

Supplemental Material for the Sept 27-28 School Board Meeting

Here is the set of material we have received for the School Board meeting which will take place Thursday evening*, and all day Friday. In addition to the normal business of the Board, which will be dealt with during the Thursday evening session, this is also the Annual Retreat, where we spend extra time discussing matters of a more long-term and strategic nature.

In preparing for this Retreat, I asked for two sets of data to be prepared. One set contains a record for each certified and classified employee of the district, and the other a record for each section for each course offered in our high schools.

I've prepared a few reports from these datasets, and have uploaded them here. I'm not trying to draw conclusions from these data, but rather am using them to drill down to a deeper understanding of the dynamics that drive our District. In particular, I'm trying to learn about how the expansiveness of our high school course catalog is affecting the student/teacher ratio, which plays a significant part in the economics of our district. Our extracurricular programming has received a lot of attention during levy campaigns because of the perceived cost. It may be time to review the academic programming as well.

I'm not saying that we need to have cutbacks in either academic or extracurricular programming. Only that it's appropriate that all programming be reviewed periodically so that the community can make a decision about the taxes they're willing to pay to support these offerings. As always, your respectful feedback is always appreciated.

One of the most important matters we'll be dealing with in the regular session is item 12A, the Permanent Appropriations Resolution. This is a resolution which by Ohio law must be enacted each year by every public school Board of Education. It serves two primary purposes: 1) it authorizes the agencies which collect taxes on behalf of the school district to transfer those funds to our control; and, 2) it is the spending authorization granted by the school board to the Administration in order to run the district.

This resolution is accompanied by the Budget, which contains more information about how the Administration proposes to spend the money. I have some additional questions regarding this Budget, which I communicated to the Administration and my fellow Board members via this memo.

I'm looking forward to this year's Retreat. The Superintendent has planned a different structure this year which I expect to be oriented much more toward the 2020 Plan, the core of our Strategic Plan.

You may have already seen the news that the Ohio Department of Education has released preliminary results of the State Report Cards for the 2011-2012 school year. Our Districts is expected to receive a rating of "Excellent with Distinction" for the fifth year running.

'Well Done' to the teachers, staff, administration, kids, parents, community residents and our business partners for this achievement!

* If you plan to join us for the Thursday evening session, note that the meeting will be held at the Support Services Facility, 2140 Atlas Street, starting at 6pm. The Friday session will be held at the Central Office Annex, from 8am to 3pm.


  1. you are a good man, Paul!

    thanks so much for sharing this data and for your continued work for our community, kids and schools! ce

  2. Some excellent questions Paul. I as well as many others appreciate all of your detailed prep as it relates to our financial status of our district.

  3. I agree with the other two posters... Thanks for sharing the information!!

    Congrats to HCSD for the what looks to be another good performance on the State Report Card.

    Let's not forget to give some kudos to our National Merit Semifinalists, too. Darby and Davidson have 3 apiece - this year, following up from Darby's 4 last year. I think each of our high schools has fared well in some of the rankings in national magazines, as well. 'Well done' to all.

  4. Before we all pat ourselves on the back too much...

    Paul - any recent numbers on the percentage of HCSD graduates required to take remedial classes when the enter college? I recall the last number I heard from you was ridiculously high for a district with a rating of "Excellent with Distinction".

    1. You are referring to the High School to College Transition Report published by the Ohio Board of Regents. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have published data newer than that applying to the students who entered college for the first time in the fall of 2009.

      This report has two features worth noting: a) it includes data from all Ohio high schools, public and private; and, b) it includes only those students who enrolled in an Ohio public college. So it doesn't include all the kids who go to private schools, from the little colleges like Capital and Heidelberg here in Ohio, or Harvard, Northwestern, Stanford, or any of the armed services academies.

      Nor is the data grouped by school district - it details each individual high school.

      Understanding this, Davidson at 4% ties for 129th among 914 Ohio high schools for the percentage of graduates who had to take remedial English and Math once they reached college. Darby was at 13th, 458th place. Bradley had not yet graduated its first class at that point.

      In just the 70 high schools in Franklin County (I didn't realize there were that many!), Davidson tied for 13th and Darby for 33rd.

      However, it should also be noted that among these 914 high schools in the state, Darby was 11th in the sheer number of kids who enrolled in college, and Davidson was 16th, with both around 250, or about half the graduating class.

      Statewide, among the high school which report the size of their graduating class, only 37% of the kids go on to college at an Ohio university.

      So the issue may not so much be the quality of the education presented to Hilliard kids as it may be that we seem to encourage a lot of kids to give college a try. It could be that if we told those 13% over the 37% average to not even try college, we might bring our remediation down to near zero as well.

      But it that our choice to make - or one for the kids and their parents?

    2. It is clearly the kids' choice, assisted by their respective parents.

      But our schools should also be honest with the kids and parents, which they are not. Their only interest seems to be how many of their graduating class they can get into college.

      Given the 50% drop-out rate at OSU (for example) in the first 2 years, how are we really helping kids by pushing them in a direction that will likely leave them broke, and crushed and feeling like failures.

      Btw, can you quote the same numbers with Math OR English, rather than both?

    3. The numbers are all in the reports I provided the link to above. One would expect the OR set to be larger than the AND set.

      Not sure how you can say that we both push kids who shouldn't go, and that it's the personal choice whether or not to attempt college right out of high school.

      I agree that the rhetoric in our country, from both sides of the aisle, is that a college education is the only way out of our economic slump. I'd note that the collapse of our middle class isn't caused by the loss of jobs requiring a college education, but rather by the loss of jobs in which the world labor rate dropped well below what American workers are willing to work for.

      So rather than having millions of factory workers earning a fraction of what they did a few decades ago in order to remain competitive, we have millions of former factory workers working at Wal-Mart and the like, earning an even smaller fraction of what they did a few decades ago.

      And now we're seeing waves of college graduates who can't find a job in their field moving back home with their parents, a taking jobs in retail or some call center.

      A basic tenet of business strategy is that you have decide whether you want to compete on quality or price. The Japanese started out competing on price, and shifted to competing on quality. Same for the Germans. The Japanese let their financial system lead them down a rathole, as have we. The Germans managed to avoid that.

      How are we going to compete on the world market? We produce plenty of smart scientists and engineers, but we haven't figured out whether we're going to compete on price, like the Chinese, or on quality, like the Germans. Consequently we aren't leader in either.

      Back on point, college costs are why they are for the same reason real estate prices got so crazy - access to easy credit. We won't see college costs stop exploding until the credit-fueled demand falls off.

    4. I said what I said because the people making the decision aren't getting both sides of the argument...