A number of years ago, there was a television commercial where management were in a conference room discussing how they were going to cut costs. They were all frustrated until one of the members looked at all the folders, charts, and reports and said, “How much does all of this cost?” The potential savings dawned on everyone in the meeting.
I look at my school site and the district and I constantly ask myself, “How much does all of this cost?” I think about the incessant teacher pull-outs, especially for math and language arts. When my son was taking compacted math in 7th grade his teacher missed over 40 days for predominantly school business. When he took compacted math in 8th grade, his teacher missed over 50 days. How much does it cost to pay for subs that many days for teachers across the school district? On many if not most of those days, the principal and assistant principal would join the teachers in the trainings. “How much does all of this cost?” Additionally, how much did it cost my son in mastering math at its highest level when his teachers would average missing more than a day each week?
Six years ago at my middle school site, all teachers taught 5 periods a day. Now, eleven of 45 teachers do not teach five periods a day. That is almost 25% of the staff!
Almost 25% of the staff does not teach full-time. Many of the 25% teach only one or two periods per day.
In the past, the Special Ed. and ELL teachers would teach remedial literacy and math. Now, they do neither. When they are not teaching their own classes, they “push in” and act as highly paid aides in other teachers’ classrooms or have extra prep. Consequently, we offer far fewer remedial classes and elective teachers teach the few that do exist.
If those eleven teachers were teaching a full five periods, they would be teaching 29 more classes, which is basically 6 full-time teaching positions!
Last year the principal decided to add another elective teacher to our site. I and a couple of other teachers met with her and told her that we were already overstaffed in the elective classes and adding another staff member would be extremely wasteful. She did it anyway and currently our elective classes are over 200 students below capacity, which is another 6 classes, which is another full-time teacher. That is seven full-time teachers overstaffed. That could equal more than $700,000 at my site alone.
Inefficiency is a major component of our deficit. Having teachers being pulled-out of their classes ad infinitum is not cost effective nor in the best interests of the students. Unfortunately, school funding is a zero sum game as we are finding out. You can’t have 25% of the teachers teaching only part-time without either running deficits or making the other 75% of the teachers teach more classes.
Teachers are stupefied that there is a $14 million deficit, yet they see teachers teaching only one period a day.
To the board, I implore you to ask “How much does all of this cost?” How much would it save to tighten up scheduling? How much would it save to keep teachers in their classes and principals at their sites? How much does it cost students in learning opportunities when their teachers are not in their classrooms? “How much does all of this cost?”