Monday, December 15, 2008

Shrinking Districts are Hard: Let's Work Together & be Rewarded

Here are some hard realities we need to face in District 281:
  • Student enrollment continues to decrease (fewer kids in the community)
  • State funding continues to decrease with enrollment decline
  • State funding pays for variable, fixed & overhead costs, therefore there is less money for teachers/supplies, buildings/technology & support/admin
  • Partially full schools drive excessive cost (ie interest costs, tie up capital, maintenance costs, heating/cooling costs, other costs and extra sets of admin, staff, cooks, busing, janitor, library, etc.)
  • Taxpayers are rightly demanding accountability and the elimination of waste.
  • Teachers, supplies & technology help students learn. Buildings, support and admin have a less direct impact.
With these factors and a desire to avoid the 5C's in mind, what should we do as a community?

I hope the pending District 281 Facilites review meetings are focused on teachers, supplies & technology, and how to ensure RAS can maximize the % of budget that is used on these. Please make sure you attend one of the meetings. (281 Facilities site)


R-Five said...

I have to say I was disappointed with the low turnout at both sessions. Parents who later complain when one of their schools makes the list should first be asked which of these they attended.

Since the savings from closing schools are actually pretty small compared to the total budget, closings can get pretty political, and I'm sure these will too.

The best advice (which I gave to the district) is to not speculate about what those savings will be spent on. Be dispassionate, argue that this would be the responsible thing to do even if we had $20 million in the bank instead of $2 million.

John said...

The other thing I found strange was Stan's comment that demolitioning the schools to create green space was there likely best use.(ie no maintenance cost or chance of neighborhood blight) Then he mentioned that charters may like to buy them, however he seemed hesitent to sell to them due to the liklihood of losing some students. Seems to play well into the "public schools just want to maintain their monopoly" story. Probably not a theme to continue if you are interested in the best interest of the neighborhood kids.