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).

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