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Old 09-19-2008, 04:57 AM
Location: MI
1,899 posts, read 1,627,932 times
Reputation: 464


Originally Posted by Nearborn View Post
The Feds are finally kicking Jenny Grandemole out?!?!?!?! Yay!!!!
Kicking the fine governor out of what?
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:28 PM
5,114 posts, read 4,816,668 times
Reputation: 4380
Coldjensens, the point that I'm trying to make in step 3 can be summed up in two words: classroom consolidation.

Let's take a hypothetical school which I'll call Coldjensens Polytechnic High School. Last school year Coldjensens Polytechnic had 1000 students, 50 classes of 20 students each. Each one of these students brought in about $10K in state funding. That's ten million dollars in funding total for last year. Let's also assume that the entire ten million was spent on salary for teachers, school books, school supplies, utilities (heat and electricity), salary for administrative and maintenance staff, maintenance supplies, building repairs, extracurricular activities, etc. There's no money left over and funding and expeditures are in complete balance.

Now take 100 students away from Coldjensens Polytechnic, leaving a student population of only 900. That reduces the state funding for the school by $1,000,000. The class size immediately drops from an average of 20 students to 18, but the million dollar shortfall must be made up.

Coldjensens Polytechnic will obviously use less school books and supplies and have less students in extracurricular activities. But this won't make up the shortfall.

So for arguments sake, I'm going to assume that the school saves $500K by cutting out the extracurricular activities and saving on less books and supplies required for the 100 students no longer attending Coldjensens Polytechnic.

I admit, I simply made this number up. But I believe it's reasonable to note that while money could be saved in this manner, I don't believe that reasonable to assume that such cost-cutting could cover the entire shortfall. And keep in mind, you can only eliminate the football team or the hockey team or the marching band once -- such savings can't be realized in subsequent years.

At this point, Coldjensens Polytechnic is still $500K in the red. They won't cut administrative staff (funny how that works out). The building is still the same size, so they can't really cut maintenance staff all that much.

So the administrator at Coldjensens Polytechnic starts cutting teacher staffing. Due to seniority rules, they cut from the bottom of the seniority list. And since there's a correlation between seniority and salary, let's assume all low-seniority teachers laid off only make the minimum $35K (which I believe might be the starting salary for a Detroit Public School teacher). That's 15 teachers that need to be cut, leaving only 35 teachers for 900 students, for an average class size of 25.7 students.

However, let's assume that instead of laying off the teachers with least seniority, the school administrator at Coldjensens Polytechnic instead manages to find enough teachers at the top of the payscale who want to retire. The actual top salary in the Detroit Public Schools is about $70K for a teacher with seniority and a master's degree. If this top pay is good enough for the DPS, then it's good enough for the beloved teachers at old Coldjensens Poly.

To maintain an average class size of 20 students, Coldjensens Polytechnic can only lose 5 teachers through layoffs and/or retirement. If the school administrator can find five teachers at the top of the payscale that want to retire this year, it saves only $350K...the school still needs to come up with another $150K. So at least 2 more teachers at the top of the payscale need to retire. That will give an average class size of 20.9.

However, some might argue that it's unrealistic to expect that either 14% of the Coldjensen Polytechnic faculty is ready for retirement or that 30% of the faculty makes the bare minimum salary. Therefore, the new average class size will probably fall somewhere between 20.9 and 25.7.
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:05 PM
5,114 posts, read 4,816,668 times
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Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
The second question is the extention of the logic here. By this logic, all larger schools would be better than smaller schools.
Coldjensens, I went back over my original post and I don't see where it indicates that larger schools are better than smaller schools. I was discussing schools that are experiencing declining enrollment, whether large or small, and how the declining enrollment leads to a spiralling funding problem.

My specific recommendation for more funding for the Detroit Public Schools was predicated upon the fact that the DPS has been spiralling downward for so long that the DPS pretty much needs to start rebuilding itself as if it were a new school system, or maybe as several smaller new school systems.
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Old 09-19-2008, 01:45 PM
5,114 posts, read 4,816,668 times
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Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
All schools have good teachers and cruddy teachers. Union rules prevent the schools from hiring only good teachers and getting rid of the crummy ones.
Agreed that union rules prevent the employment termination of poor teachers. The whole point of a union is to protect its members and get the best deal for them - this is both good (higher pay and safer work environments) and bad (featherbedding and employment protection for bad workers). It's a trade-off at this time.

One way is to identify people who are good teachers before they become teachers. I'm guessing that's kind of tough to pull off.

I'm all for getting rid of bad teachers. Problem is, what constitutes a bad teacher? Student test scores? Not all students will perform at the same level. Not all students have the same set of innate skills. Not all students come from the same background. Not all students have the same advantages.

Given one school, Coldjensens Polytechnic, where students averaged 90% on a state test in one year and then improved their average scores to 92% the second year, and another school, Miller Remedial, where the students averaged 65% on the same test the first year and improved to 85% the next year. Are the teachers at Coldjensens Tech better teachers because of higher test scores? Are the Miller Remedial teachers better because of test score improvements?

Who decides which ones are the best teachers? Best teacher that I ever had was a high school history teacher. Taught us all more in two semesters in high school about U.S. History than I ever learned in two different colleges. The school fired him for allegedly smoking pot in his own home. The fact that he was a 60's liberal during the ascendancy of Reagan Republicanism was just a coincidence.

Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
Thus, more money does not result in better teachers.
And less money doesn't result in better teachers either. In fact, it might result in no teachers.

I think that we're in agreement here, we both want good teachers and we don't want bad teachers.

I'd rather say better pay attracts better performing workers. And it's still a crap shoot. Otherwise, the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers would both be locks for post-season play this year!
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:01 PM
5,114 posts, read 4,816,668 times
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Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
The problem is how do you break the chain of parents who do not care gnerating children who become parents who do not care? I have no ideas on that.
Aye, there's the rub.
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Old 09-20-2008, 09:38 AM
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
27,759 posts, read 65,606,514 times
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So you close the school, move the kids to other schools that also have reduced enrollment, fire all the teachers and sell the building.
That is what they are doing in other cities. Many major cities are suffering declining enrollment in the schools. Although urban living has regained popularity, it is mostly popular with people who do not have kids. Even good cities like San Francisco are having declining populations and closing down schools.
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Old 09-23-2008, 08:50 AM
5,114 posts, read 4,816,668 times
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Coldjensens, I'm still thinking about this question and reading up on it.

The district lost about a third of its students between 2002 and 2007, going from about 160,000 students down to about 106,000 students. Reports are that the district has lost approximately another 10,000 students this year.

An outside firm was invited by School Superintendent Connie Calloway to audit the district. This audit found decades old management problems, four years of hidden deficits covered by borrowing and shuffling of funding, little long-term planning, compounding debt, and an inability to contain costs. The audit even found 600 teachers on the payroll but not accounted for in the school budgets. This obviously indicates serious management issues within the school district that more funding will not resolve.

One of the audit's recommendations was that the district should reduce the number of high schools from 28 to 8. Assuming an even distribution of 100,000 students across 12 grades and assuming that high schools are grades 9-12, then 28 high schools yields about 1000 students per high school. Reducing to 8 high schools increases this to about 4000 students per high school.

I have no idea if there are 8 high schools in the DPS that can each support a population of 4000 students. I also have no idea if there is a real estate market for 20 shuttered high schools in Detroit, but I would doubt it.

I seem to recall that there is one high school in Michigan that has 4000 students, but the largest Michigan high schools that I can document all seem to be about 2000-2300 students.

There are currently 28 zoned high schools in the Detroit school district. There are also another 14 high schools in the district that are termed "optional high schools". I believe that these additional 14 high schools are the "magnet schools" that can be attended by students from accross the school district. The existence of these additional 14 high schools would serve to reduce the student / high school ratios that I estimated in an earlier paragraph, perhaps down to the average 2000 students per consolidated high school.

It's interesting to note that if the zoned high school consolidation goes through, then there would be more "magnet" high schools than zoned schools.
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Old 09-26-2008, 10:16 PM
282 posts, read 1,083,238 times
Reputation: 106
Unhappy I hate to admit it but

for the sake of honesty. I did some time in the County jail. I took some classes to pass the time. At the time the city was in the process of tallying the number of students for funding of the school system. Well they had us falsify paperwork so we could be counted as legitimite students so the city could get more money for the school system. Who pocketed that I wonder. That was back in 1991. I can imagine what they're doing now. Goes to show you not all crooks are "bad people."
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Old 09-27-2008, 01:14 PM
214 posts, read 997,261 times
Reputation: 100
The district has only has about 88,000 students, which is a loss of 17,000 students compared to last year. It's the lowest enrollment numbers since World War One.

For every 150 students, the school district loses $1 million in funding, which amounts to a total loss of about $50 million in state aid.
Thats a pretty disturbing number since that means more schools are probably going to close. I lived by a closed school(ferry elmentary) while the neighborhood was bad it got alot worse with a empty school right around the corner. The charter schools are no different i`ve been in them kids were loud not working, etc.
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Old 09-27-2008, 02:12 PM
866 posts, read 3,877,747 times
Reputation: 281
I still have faith in Michigan, SE Mi, Metro Detroit, and even parts of Detroit proper. But Detroit Public Schools, NO.
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