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Thread: Projected cost savings from elementary school reconfiguration

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    Default Projected cost savings from elementary school reconfiguration

    This information is on the Wayland School Committee web site here.

    At its November 3, November 18, and December 1 meetings, the Wayland School Committee discussed the projected elementary school reconfiguration cost savings. The estimate of this savings currently stands as follows.

    • Principal: $97,650 (TBA new staff member)
    • 12-month secretary: $41,016
    • Elementary teacher: $52,872
    • Elementary teacher: $55,037 (TBA new staff member)
    • Kindergarten teacher (0.65 FTE): $35,824
    • Kindergarten teaching assistant (17.5 hours): $13,643
    • Librarian: $55,114
    • Music teacher (0.5 FTE): $22,704
    • Guidance counselor (0.5 FTE): $47,228
    • Teaching assistants (2): $43,315
    • Custodian: $35,266
    • MCAS stipend (1): $1,963
    • SPED team leader stipend (1): $3,477
    • Student activity stipends (4): $5,892
    • Crossing guard and nursing (municipal budget): $39,000
    • Health insurance (municipal budget): $68,000
    • Summer work added due to the reconfiguration: -$4,600
    • TOTAL: $613,041
    The two TBA notations reflect that a person leaving a position that was eliminated with the reconfiguration to 2 1/2 schools would have been replaced by someone "to be announced" (TBA) at an estimated salary, as shown.

    The transportation cost difference will not be known until the end of the school year. At present, the schools have one additional noon Kindergarten run above what was in place last year.

    Summer moving expenses and other non-personnel expenses have also not been estimated yet.

    The Committee will update this analysis as additional information becomes available.

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    This is the kind of stuff that forces people to devote valuable time to checking facts when they shouldn't have to. Why is that? After the November 18 public comment section of the SC meeting I had the opportunity to have a pleasant conversation with one of the SC members in regards to why I have a difficult time accepting that personnel savings from this reconfiguration could be so large both in total dollars and as a percentage of the [pick your fruit] like comparison of elementary school spending from one year to the next. Although I understand the dynamic nature of school populations from year to year, I confess to still being confused and/or skeptical.

    Last year's staff deployment report (October 1, 2007) shows that there were 9 K sections for 175 students. Why would the proposed FY 09 budget have 10 sections for 164 students? Further, the same staff report shows 50 Grade 1-5 sections across the three schools and the FY 09 budget -- prior to reconfiguration plans -- had 49. The proposed budget already assumed one fewer teacher/FTE before any reconfiguration, so why are there two elementary positions listed as savings?

    I have neither the time nor the desire to investigate every line item listed but my larger questions from the other thread still stand: 1) Given that the approved FY 09 elementary budget shows a modest increase over FY 08 actual, how, in a scenario of declining enrollment, could an increase of apparently another $600K have been budgeted in the first place? 2) Where was the analytical oversight of this? It seems that the "solution" of closing one of the elementary schools was the first choice and not the last.

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    The information provided by the School Committee above is exceedingly misleading as there is a multitude of expenses associated with the reconfiguration that have not been factored in.

    Even without the transportation costs, the number of costs that are known – and there are plenty - go a long way to eroding this alleged $614,000 savings significantly.

    It is also worth noting that while we should be happy if we are saving more money than originally projected, what does it say about the oversight of the budget that we are over 60% off of our anticipated savings even if that number is (allegedly) up instead of down?
    Last edited by John Flaherty; 12-04-2008 at 05:34 PM.
    John Flaherty

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    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    The information provided by the School Committee above is exceedingly misleading as there is a multitude of expenses associated with the reconfiguration that have not been factored in.

    Even without the transportation costs, the number of costs that are known and there are plenty - go a long way to eroding this alleged $614,000 savings significantly.
    I'd be happy to learn what these are so that they might be factored into the analysis. I'm certainly not trying to mislead on this question, nor are any of the other members of the School Committee to my knowledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    It is also worth noting that while we should be happy if we are saving more money than originally projected, what does it say about the oversight of the budget that we are over 60% off of our anticipated savings even if that number is (allegedly) up instead of down?
    One possibility is that the original estimate was conservative. For instance, back in the spring, we did not include municipal budget items such as health insurance, nursing, and crossing guards. Nor did we account for a reduction in classroom sections that could not be pinpointed until redistricting was examined in detail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Grasso View Post
    Last year's staff deployment report (October 1, 2007) shows that there were 9 K sections for 175 students. Why would the proposed FY 09 budget have 10 sections for 164 students?
    Page 2 of the 1/11/2008 "School Consolidation Considerations" report shows the 10 projected FY2009 Kindergarten sections based on 3-school district boundaries at the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Grasso View Post
    I have neither the time nor the desire to investigate every line item listed but my larger questions from the other thread still stand: 1) Given that the approved FY 09 elementary budget shows a modest increase over FY 08 actual, how, in a scenario of declining enrollment, could an increase of apparently another $600K have been budgeted in the first place?
    I apologize if my response here was not clear. Without the reconfiguration, there would have been a modest elementary school budget increase from FY08 to FY09. This increase would have been driven by two factors: (1) an enrollment decline not sufficiently large so as to allow for a significant reduction in the number of classrooms and (2) increases in salary and utilities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I'd be happy to learn what these are so that they might be factored into the analysis. I'm certainly not trying to mislead on this question, nor are any of the other members of the School Committee to my knowledge.
    Jeff, do you mean to tell me that you don't know? You mean you implemented this whole reconfiguration with no thought at all to what expenses it might incur?

    And you mean to tell me that now, after the fact, you haven't been keeping track of the expenses to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the ramifications of such a drastic move? Surely, you must have a list of some sort.

    It's really not up to me to tell you what expenses have resulted from your reconfiguration. It is a bit alarming actually that you don't know and don't seem to have been keeping tabs on this. How can you claim to know the Projected Cost Savings when you don't know what the expenses were?


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    John Flaherty

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    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
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    Default Climbing enrollment

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    One possibility is that the original estimate was conservative. For instance, back in the spring, we did not include municipal budget items such as health insurance, nursing, and crossing guards. Nor did we account for a reduction in classroom sections that could not be pinpointed until redistricting was examined in detail.
    Jeff,

    The examining in detail should have taken place before the redistricting/reconfiguration.
    Is it true that as of the enrollment numbers published on December 1, 2008, we have no declining enrollment? Am I reading it correctly? We do not have one less child in the elementary school this year than last?
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 12-05-2008 at 03:49 PM. Reason: to fix quote formatting

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Barber View Post
    Jeff,

    The examining in detail should have taken place before the redistricting/reconfiguration.
    Is it true that as of the enrollment numbers published on December 1, 2008, we have no declining enrollment? Am I reading it correctly? We do not have one less child in the elementary school this year than last?
    I have just started a new thread on this called The "Declining Enrollment" Myth, which you can find here.
    John Flaherty

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Jeff, do you mean to tell me that you don't know? You mean you implemented this whole reconfiguration with no thought at all to what expenses it might incur?
    No, I did not mean to tell you that, and no, I did not tell you that.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    It's really not up to me to tell you what expenses have resulted from your reconfiguration. It is a bit alarming actually that you don't know and don't seem to have been keeping tabs on this. How can you claim to know the Projected Cost Savings when you don't know what the expenses were?
    You stated that "there is a multitude of expenses associated with the reconfiguration that have not been factored in." Because I would in fact like to be as complete and accurate as possible, and because I am not averse to information from a variety of sources, I thought that I would ask you to elaborate.

    You are of course correct that it is not up to you to tell me what they are. Since you have not been shy in the past about telling me (and others) things of one sort or another, I am a bit surprised that are not doing so now. I will do my best, however, to extract whatever small solace I can from your silence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Barber View Post
    Is it true that as of the enrollment numbers published on December 1, 2008, we have no declining enrollment? Am I reading it correctly? We do not have one less child in the elementary school this year than last?
    While your assertion is not technically correct (as of December 1, 2008, the elementary school enrollment was 1,213; on December 1, 2007, the corresponding school enrollment was 1,217), it is essentially correct.

    As I've said elsewhere on this board, the implication of this comparison is that a 2 1/2 school model was potentially feasible at least a year prior to its implementation this past fall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    No, I did not mean to tell you that, and no, I did not tell you that.
    Oh, good.
    So, then you DO know what expenses there have been.
    It would be very helpful if you would tell us what they are.

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    John Flaherty

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    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
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    Page 2 of the 1/11/2008 "School Consolidation Considerations" report shows the 10 projected FY2009 Kindergarten sections based on 3-school district boundaries at the time.
    True, but it shows that an additional teacher was added to HH for an increase of 6 students. CH's K program had over 20 students per class, why couldn't HH? We're now exceeding SC guidelines in terms of students per class in some elementary sections, but that wasn't allowable at the time of the budget?

    I apologize if my response here was not clear. Without the reconfiguration, there would have been a modest elementary school budget increase from FY08 to FY09. This increase would have been driven by two factors: (1) an enrollment decline not sufficiently large so as to allow for a significant reduction in the number of classrooms and (2) increases in salary and utilities.
    I think you're making my point. There is a modest increase in actual 08 costs to approved budgeted 09 costs due to salary/utilities savings. But $600K of savings does not equate to a "modest" increase from 08 to 09. That would have been an unusually large increase. Either there are actual expense savings or there are artificial budget savings.

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    Given the reworking of the budget to match the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) format, it's not an easy task to calculate what the FY09 3-school elementary expense would have been relative to 3 schools in FY08.

    As I've indicated above, however, this increase is explained (but not precisely quantified) by salary and utility increases. The reconfiguration savings of ~$600k is actual (or will be, once the school year is complete), not artificial, and results from the items identified thus far by the School Committee and the Administration.

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    Given the reworking of the budget to match the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) format, it's not an easy task to calculate what the FY09 3-school elementary expense would have been relative to 3 schools in FY08.
    The ~$600k is actual (or will be, once the school year is complete), not artificial, and results from the items identified thus far by the School Committee and the Administration.
    I find these two statement contradictory. It sounds like you feel you've identified them (easily or not), and I'm still asking why they were budgeted in the first place.
    Last edited by Paul Grasso; 12-06-2008 at 11:15 PM.

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    Ah, I understand the question now (I think). The "3 school with ~$600k" budget would have been a reasonable (but not necessarily obtainable) spend for that configuration. Similarly, the "2 1/2 school without ~$600k" budget is reasonable for this configuration.

    The ~$600k amount represents the "inefficiency" of 3 relatively small elementary schools compared with 2 1/2 relatively small elementary schools. Specifically, the smaller number of schools has less in the way of fixed costs (e.g., the principal) as well as more efficient groupings of students.

    By way of example, imagine 3 schools, each with 4 classes of 20 grade two students (class size guideline of 23). That's 240 students and 12 classes. Now, put those same 240 students in 2 schools: 125 in one school and 115 in the other. That works out to 6 classes in one school and 5 classes in the other, for a total of 11 classes, a savings of 1.

    Necessarily, the more "efficient" grouping results in larger classes, albeit still within the class size guideline. The actual number of classes above guideline depends on the exact location of students, but as it happens with this year's enrollment, the 2 1/2 school configuration results in fewer sections over guideline than has been the case over the past decade or so. Whether the same would have been true of 3 schools, I don't know.

    Paul, please note that I appreciate the level tone with which you've been posing questions and engaging in the conversation. The pros and cons of the reconfiguration have been exhaustively debated and come down to matters of opinion that will never see consensus, nor do they need to. I don't intend to spend time or energy re-debating the merits of the reconfiguration (cue someone elses snide post here), but am happy to discuss and answer reasonable questions such as the amount of the associated cost savings.

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