Tales from the BudComm – Cost vs Results

by Skip

SchoolhouseFrom Weekend Pundit (emphasis mine):

Speaking of small town New Hampshire, we are going through out budgeting process for both the town and school. It can be a time-consuming effort, with some wanting a lot more money this coming year and others making do with the same amount they spent this year. One of the biggest parts of the budget for our town is the school system which takes up over 68% of the money the town spends. The town side of the budget has managed to keep spending in check, with most budget increases coming in at approximately 1% or less (this coming year’s is no different). But there have been times when the school side has seen huge increase, both as a percentage and in actual dollars. Of course the reasoning we always hear for those increases are the usual “But it’s for the children!”

It’s funny how all that money “for the children” ends up paying rather high salaries for teachers, supervisory staff, and paraprofessionals. I would say it would be worth it if we had the best schools in the state and out kids performed at the top. However the reality is that our school system is really slightly above average. We spend a lot of money for ‘slightly above average’.

In fact, here’s how “slightly above average” our hamlet really does:

School District standardized testing results

Again, the backdrop of the cost of our town to achieve these results is: $23,301.90 per student per year.  Looking at the 11th Grade results, we are paying a lot of bucks for not a lot of bang.

From Steve’s post, the average costs in NH are:

  • Elementary: $15,033.57
  • Middle School: $14,295.37
  • High School: $15,068.46
  • Pre-School: $14,901.93

And as I wrote about here, the Town (while generally trying to follow the rules) can and does mess up.  But not as much as the School Board brazenly does – and at what cost and for what results? Trust me – it IS all politics and having watched this from the inside here and watched how some other School Boards across the State operate, it ain’t for the children.

Just remember one thing that we at the ‘Grok said a lot in our early days (A take off from former Democrat Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill’s well quoted saying “All politics is local”):

This may be local to us now but you can bet it is/will be happening to you, too!

Why?  Human nature, in general, is the same all over.  While graciousness can abound, so can the more greedy and retributional natures can as well (and always have a dash of “never underestimate the power of human stupidity” thrown in as well).

Leave a Comment

  • “It’s funny how all that money “for the children” ends up paying rather high salaries for teachers, supervisory staff, and paraprofessionals.”
    Uh oh, Are we to understand that SOME voters, and folks that have been entrusted by the voters, are actually LOOKING at the “estimateds”, and other individual line items, BEFORE they’re just simply passed as a matter of course?
    But…..but….that OTHER town pays THEIR “employees” a higher rate. “We” MUST match them, just to compete!”
    I keep hearing that “Those other towns” are in trouble…AGAIN, and aren’t hiring.

    • Bryan W

      When I was on the budget committee, I asked the school admin how many candidates applied for an elementary teachers position. The response was “about 15.” So who are we competing with if there are 15 applicants? As long as there are more new teachers being cranked out of UNH than we have positions, that should serve to keep the rate inflation down. “Well, they will go elsewhere.” Where? There are only X positions available in any given year, and X+Y people available to fill those jobs. Basic economics (that stuff you should be teaching) tells us that when there is an oversupply, then price should go down. In an ideal economy, the supply will eventually correct itself, but in the situation where there is “free” government money available to pay for college (a huge market distortion), you are going to get many people with degrees who want to work, and their fields of study do not have the jobs to provide them. Continually. Another semester or two of school, and bingo – a teacher’s certificate.

      • Domiciled

        They move to MA.

        • Bryan W

          I’m sure some did, or other states. Some go to states with a net shortage (mostly very rural, and frequently cold). That’s all fine – it is the beauty of the American way.

          I know for a fact that a few found work locally at Kohl’s, Target, JC Penny’s, Texas Roadhouse, and Staples. One in particular I know has a degree in music and a teachers certificate, but could not get in my town, or any surrounding towns. He worked at Ted Herberts until they closed, then I lost track of him.

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