Sunday, October 23, 2005

School Consolidation Did Not Save Money..

....Dem-Gaz article did not take into account important factors
By Debbie Pelley (click "comments" below for article).


Blogger Debbie Pelley said...

$2.4 Million in Consolidation Savings Claim is Misleading

$37.5 Million Spent in Incentive Money for Consolidation and Bus Fuel Not Factored In

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the ADE and proponents of consolidation are touting $2.4 million dollars savings on consolidation. The problem is, as usual, they are spinning this subject rather than giving the facts. And even if that figure were true, that would only be exulting over the paltry sum of $5.00 a student saving (divide $2.4 million by the 450,000 students in Arkansas).

However, the writers of the articles failed to factor in some very important details. For one thing, they left out the $37.5 million dollars they gave to the schools that consolidated for incentive money - called "consolidation assistance funds" in Act 60 of 2004. It would take approximately 15 years to come out even saving 2.4 million a year on consolidation. So they save $5.00 a student on consolidation this last year, but they spent 83.00 per student in Arkansas as incentive money to get them to consolidate ($37.5 million divided by the 450,000 students in Arkansas) So at this point consolidation has cost us 78.00 per student and saved nothing yet. From the terminology of the law that allocated the $37.5 million, it appears that consolidating schools were paid from $800 to $1,500 for every student in the consolidating schools. If consolidation were going to save the schools so much money, then why did they give them $37.5 million for consolidation assistance? See below for excerpts from the law about the amount of money paid to the students

Another component they didn't factor in was the increased money for bus fuel. Noooo, all those kids from those 23 closed campuses and riding longer bus routes could not possibly add to the educational expense, not when a school bus gets about 6 miles a gallon and diesel fuel has gone up to approximately $3.29 a gallon. One school with about 1100 to 1200 students said his buses run 1500 miles each day. Multiply that by 178 days and you get a hefty figure. His increase this year over last year, if gas prices hold steady, will be approximately 44,500 a year - that is figuring gas only $1.00 more than last year per gallon. Yet, the editorial writers for ADG act as though this figure is altogether insignificant!

To put this 2.4 million or $5.00 so called consolidation savings in perspective, the legislature increased funding for staff development (teacher training) by $50.00 per student or $22 million. Eight-five percent of Arkansas Teachers indicated in a survey that this staff development is of little value in improving student achievement and an ineffective use of tax dollars and teacher time.

For another perspective, Act 98 of 2004 sponsored by Bisbee, gave $107 million supplement to ADE to add up to 32 new government employees and other things." $107 million equals about $237.00 per student in Arkansas as compared to the $5.00 per student supposed consolidation savings. Link to SB91 (Now Act 98) passed 2-6-04 2nd Session of 84th Assembly. This bill raised the Director of the Arkansas State Department, Ken James, to $204,620 in fiscal 2006 and $208,599 in fiscal 2007. I think the salary before James came here was about 123 thousand. What a raise! "The new law that created the position pool also allowed the department to exceed the maximum salary of the director and eight other new top-level positions by up to 25 percent in order to stay competitive with other states. That means the deputy commissioner's salary could be increased to as much as $159,780, and the salaries of the assistant directors could range up to $110,621" Arkansas News Bureau, June 15, 05 By Wesley Brown. I wonder if this is what the court meant by adequate and equal education!

Another factor of consider that you won't see in the media although the data was extracted from charts in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette: I sent this email out a couple years ago. The 5 largest schools in Arkansas combined spent approximately 58.8 million dollars above the state average per pupil in 2002. The 100 smallest schools in Arkansas combined spent approximately 13.5 million above state average. The entire state and political process have been disrupted for $13.5 million dollars (which will be eaten up with state fighting lawsuits) which was ½ of 1% of the $2.7 billion education budget. Nothing has been done to the larger schools that spent 58.8 million dollars above the state average. Discrimination perhaps? (See this link for details on these figures: See this link for information on this data



(b) Administrative consolidation assistance funds shall be paid in an amount equal to:

(1) Eight hundred dollars ($800) multiplied times the consolidated average daily membership; plus
(2) Seven hundred dollars ($700) multiplied times the consolidated national school lunch student total.
(c)(1) Administrative consolidation assistance funds may be used by the school districts for any purpose.
(2) However, the state board by rule may require funds to be expended on the construction or improvement of school facilities.

Debbie Pelley

8:58 PM, October 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:07 PM, October 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Debbie, you are a grizzled faux.

12:53 AM, October 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on folks, don't attack the lady. Attack the thesis if it is wrong. If not, just leave her alone.

I cannot find fault with the point she is making. Since I see no responses on why her statements here are false, I have to assume she is correct.

8:04 AM, October 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as long as they leave these mega districts (I know at 350 calling that mega is as stretch) under local control then I don't see a problem

8:29 PM, October 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't have a problem with the Demo-Gaz publishing misleading articles? I mean that is separate from the issue of whether you think consolidation is OK or not.

Even if you think it is OK to consolidate, it is NOT OK for the Demo-Zette to publish articles that imply consolidation is a money-saver when the facts say it is not.

10:21 PM, October 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:17 PM, November 07, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:41 AM, November 10, 2005  
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