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  1. #1
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    Default (Appropriately) valuing co-curricular activities

    Co-curricular programs include athletics, arts, and activities (clubs). Appropriately valuing these programs takes on particular importance during tight financial times.

    It's a fair question to ask what percentage of our programmatic budget (excluding fixed costs such as custodial services, maintenance, transportation, and utilities) should be allocated to curricular (academic) versus co-curricular programs. 75%? 80%? 90%?

    If we look at the FY09 school budget, we see that we spend 88% of our funds on program. Those program costs are then broken down as follows.
    • Academics: 91.1%
    • Art: 1.8%
    • Music: 2.7%
    • Theater arts: 0.7%
    • Athletics: 3.0%
    • Activities: 0.7%

    In my opinion, these percentages reflect a reasonable prioritization.

    Some sports (golf, skiing) and activities (ultimate frisbee) seem to be particular targets for charges of "over-spending." We should be careful not to imagine these endeavors as "resort activities," but legitimate competition that bring all of the benefits of the more "traditional" sports: fitness, teamwork, character, and so on. Moreover, they provide (as does crew, for instance) a markedly different type of competition for athletes who might not have the "tools" for the traditional sports.

    In a comparison of 25 FY07 teams, cost per student ranged from a high of ~$1,050 (swimming) to a low of ~$250 (track). Golf ranks 4th at ~$800 (behind boys and girls volleyball) and skiing ranks 8th at ~$625 (behind boys and girls basketball, and comparable to baseball). Note that skiing's rank will drop considerably now that lift passes will be paid for by a separate fee to match the practice of peer districts. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with lift passes being part of the athletic budget--they are a necessary part of the sport, one that has athletes paying for their own equipment unlike most other sports.

    I value co-curricular programs for the breadth that they add to a public education, and see devoting roughly a tenth of the budget to their pursuit as being appropriate.

  2. #2
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    As a percentage, it doesn't seem unreasonable.

    What is this a percentage of? What is the total of "our programmatic budget"?
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  3. #3
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    Per the school budget book (available at the link in my original post), the total is $30,673,213. Of this, 88% (actually, 88.8%), or $27,232,606, is "programmatic" (my term, not one that I've heard the Administration use). In turn, 91% of the programmatic piece, or $24,806,665, is curricular (academic).

  4. #4
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    So, it sounds like the total amount spent annually on co-curriculars is about $2.4 million.

    Jeff, I agree with you that co-curriculars are important.
    While I realize that you tend to favor sports, I would tend to lean toward music and arts, but essentially we're on the same page as to the importance of preserving these important programs that give our kids a well-rounded, balanced education and experience in their school years.

    How much each of us values these things will vary from person to person, but to me, 2.4 million is a small price to pay for the value they present.

    That said, I can't help but compare that to the impact of closing a school and crowding the other two schools to near capacity. The savings achieved by going to such a drastic measure are a drop in the bucket - less than one percent of the entire school budget.

    We all have our limits. I'm sure even you would see the need to take money from co-curriculars at some point - a 5 million dollars savings, 10, 20, 30 million dollars?

    My question to you is, at what point would you be forced to throw in the towel and accept that we just can't afford some of these things?
    For me, it's closing a school. What is it for you?

    On a different note...
    I'm not trying to be a pest, but I would really appreciate it if you would extend the courtesy of replying to some of the posts below that you'd been ignoring, i.e. Dubious Top Ten List. After all, it was you who took that and some other discussions from the Wicked Local site and brought them over here. It only seems fair that you would respond to questions in the discussion.
    If it seems like a moot point, it's not. Of course, the reconfiguration is a done deal and the questions aren't about trying to change that.
    They're about trying to understand how you came to the conclusions that you did, because many of us are still puzzled. I know about your comparison chart, so we don't need to "go there" again. Instead, if you could respond as directly as you can to the specific questions posted it would be very much appreciated.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  5. #5
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    Actually, I don't favor athletics, arts, or activities over any of the others. They are all important, and will benefit different students in different ways. That said, beyond the ability to listen, I don't have a musical bone in my body ...

    By dollars spent, it might appear that the district favors arts over athletics, but to conclude that, one would have to normalize for number of students (for instance, elementary students have access to the arts, but not to athletics beyond physical education).

    As for the school comparison question, I simply don't have anything more to add.

  6. #6
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    Jeff, you've gone off on a tangent again.
    My post was not about art vs. athletics. That was pretty much an aside.
    If you reread my post and then read yours, it's quite clear that that was not my point in writing.

    The question was, at what point would you concede that we simply can't afford some of these extracurriculars and may have to make some cuts in them, simply to keep the academic portion afloat?

    As to the other posts, I'm not asking you to add anything, other than to simply answer a question. Is there a reason you won't do that?
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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