Plummeting district enrollment is mostly not a financial problem, it is a political one
Surely they will have to close at least one school and reassign. Would that fact not undermine the argument around transportation savings?
"...whatever the cost". Wow, just wow. Imagine having that tagline on any public company or even another publicly funded organization. It's basically a message to all of us that we are the suckers meant to fund whatever it is they want to fund. And, so long as they stick the word "kids" on it, I guess it also means it's okay? I am blow away.
You are spot on about it being a political problem. The issue of course is that the administration and the board understand that fact, but are not equipped to address it in a rational manner.
The easiest way to build political support would have been to use the bonding mechanism to fund the school rather than attempt to juggle things around by messing with the operating budget.
Of course to raise the funds via bond they would have had to make an appeal to the voters through a referendum which they rejected.
This end-around, coupled with the unprecedented secretive way they hired the current superintendent and the lack of transparency exemplified by the FOIA travails you document here has contributed to a great degree of mistrust of the motives and competency of the current administration and board.
For me and a large number of my neighbors, it is going to take a lot for the board to regain my trust. Sacking the superintendent and bringing the bonding issue to the voters would be the best way to accomplish this.
I haven't heard any of the non-incumbents running for the board advocating these positions, however.
Tom, have you tried to FOIA any information related to analysis conducted by the District about how busing affects student test scores? Horton and the administration are pitching the new school as something righting some historical wrong that occurred when the Foster School was shut down in the 70s.
I have never heard them make the educational case like, "the kids are going to better in school by not having to take the bus." They have all the data to conduct an analysis that could show that kids taking the bus are underperforming compared to students with similar socioeconomic characteristics who don't take the bus.
In the academic literature, I haven't seen any studies that support this claim. There are lots of studies that show racial and class segregation in schools has disproportionate negative impacts on low income kids and kids of color.
We can have a debate as a community on whether using $40 million dollars from the operating fund is worth the symbolism of "righting an historical wrong", but there needs to be an explicit understanding of what the real impacts on students will be.
It would be interesting to FOIA to see if they have done such analysis. If they have done the analysis and it shows the busing has no impact on student performance, that needs to inform discussion of the need for the new school. If they have not done the analysis, that brings up questions about the Board and administration's focus.
Thanks for this site.
As of today the admins at Dawes I correspond with don't have 'whatever the cost' in their sig... I did however see a sign inside a school that says ".. Closing the gap.. by any means necessary".. What is the fallacy in that thinking - oh yes - that "the ends justify the means"! Children think that way, we need to expect better of district admins.
Have heard that average class sizes at some elementary schools are far less than 17. Can anyone confirm?
Thanks again for another well-researched post. If there's no looming surge in enrollment, then I want to know how much excess capacity D65 has. If D65 has capacity for 8,000 students and only 6,000 are attending, then why is D65 building a new school and keeping all of the existing ones open? They are adding capacity that is unnecessary. If the average age of the school buildings is 77 years, then building a new school makes some sense. However, if they were responsible stewards of our tax dollars, they would maybe close a school (or two) and reconfigure the school boundaries. I know there would be controversy since no one wants to lose their neighborhood school - but the Board and Admins need to make tough choices given what's going on. And they aren't.