The main reason given when the decision was made to move grades 1-5 out of Loker was to save money and keep the total cost of the School budget under control. This was a worthy goal. However, an analysis of the data seems to show that the decisions made by the School Committee from FY05 to FY10 did not realize much of if any saving.
Here is the data from Mass Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website,
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In FY06 teaching position = 225.3, avg salaries = $65,817, total salaries = $14,829,780
In FY07 teaching position = 242.0, avg salaries = $64.037, total salaries = $15,493,817
In FY08 teaching position = 211.0, avg salaries = $73,015, total salaries = $15,406,257
In FY09 teaching position = 202.3, avg salaries = $79,091, total salaries = $16,022,012
In FY10 teaching position = 195.6, avg salaries = $83,865, total salaries = $16,405,343
Here is my explanation of the data: in FY07 we added 17 positions and since new hires tend to be more recent graduates they start at a lower salary and this brought the average down. However, one year later we reduced staff by 31 positions, but because the reduction in staff is based on seniority many of the positions cut were the lower paid teachers. This is a big part of why average salary increased by $9000. Thus even though we cut 31 positions we only reduced total salaries cost by $88,000. To be fair if the number of staff positions had remained at the FY07 level there would have been some increase in average salary so the total savings were probably more like $300,000 to $400,000 (see note 1). However, one year later in FY09 we decrease staff by another 9 positions yet total salaries increased by $618,000.
I assume the 31 reduction in FY07 teaching position were mostly related to the moving grades 1-5 out of Loker. But as we can see based a 14% average salary increase in FY08 followed by a 8.3% increase in FY09 that any saving were largely gone if not totally gone by FY09.
Since Loker remains open for K we still need to maintain the building so most of the saving had to be in reduction of staff. I donít know if the kids that would have gone to Loker are now getting a better education in the other two elementary schools, but if not the rational for moving grades 1-5 out of Loker seems weak.
In addition the increase of 17 positions in FY07 follow by a reduction of 31 in FY08 seem to indicate very short term thinking resulting in less the optimum fiscal management. Also the process of hiring and reducing staff has an added cost in time and money beyond just salary costs.
Note-1: Between FY04 and FY05 and teaching staff increased by only 2.6 and average salary by $965.