Thursday, August 16, 2012
In the 2006-07 school year, the Toledo Public School system spent $11,320 per pupil. In the 2010-11 school year, their spending had increased to $13,859 per pupil.
Interestingly, their income per pupil in 2006-07 was $12,096. Clearly enough to cover what they were spending.
However, by 2010-11, their revenue per pupil was only $12,551, a 4% increase over the 2006-07 school year but definitely more than what they were spending - $1,308 or roughly 10% more.
Now, it's true that a lot of factors influence how much a school system has to spend - and some of the spending is a result of mandates that a district has no control over.
But when a district is spending more than it's taking in, the solution is NOT to just tell the public they need more money. They first have to reduce their spending so that it's in line with their income. And, since they're a school system and their first priority is educating the children, they should start with reduction of administrative salaries and overhead.
Identifying where spending can be cut - or where savings might be found - must be done by an outside, objective entity. This is why I've pushed for a performance audit and I'm glad the TPS board is moving in that direction.
I just don't expect the administration to act contrary to their own best interests and recommend reductions in their salaries, even though that would be in the best interest of the students - and the taxpayers.
And, so far, I'm not encouraged by what I'm hearing from some school board members who think TPS deserves a cushion - more money than they actually need now - simply because they expect their spending to continually rise and they don't want to have to 'keep cutting.'
I also don't think a school system that has such a terrible report card deserves to be rewarded with additional funds. They met just five of the 26 indicators for the 2010-11 school year. When I went to Woodward High School, that was a 19% - definitely a failing grade, even on a curve.
TPS did not meet the state standard in any category in the third- through eighth-grade achievement tests. In fact, in many instances, the scores have decreased from the 2008-09 test year.
They're just barely making the state standard in reading and writing for the Ohio Graduation Test given to 11th graders. They don't reach the state standard in math, science or social studies.
When it comes to Adequate Yearly Progress, they're not meeting proficiency in reading or math, though they meet their participation requirement. Yippee! - kids are participating, but they're not gaining proficiency, so what difference does it make if they're just 'present'?
And then there is Pickett Elementary - a school that has been in academic emergency for 12 years. Let me repeat that - 12 years! They met zero - zilch - nada - of the 26 indicators.
Their fifth graders, since the 2008-09 school years, have actually decreased their scores in reading, math and science. And this is in spite of the fact that 97% of the classes are taught by properly certified teachers, nearly half of them with master's degrees.
Administrative personnel in the district earn between $50,673 and $75,490 depending on which of the 11 classes and four levels they fall in. Yes, there are 11 classes of administrative personnel and each class has four different levels of potential pay.
Teachers have 31 steps. Each step has six levels based upon degrees and time. The salaries range from $34,960 to $70,055.
According to an NPR StateImpact Ohio study, the average teacher salary at TPS in 2005 was $49,862 per year. By 2010, it was $55,780.
According to City Data, the median household income in 2000 was $32,546. By 2009, it had dropped slightly to $32,325.
Note household income - not individual income - and that also includes all of the city of Toledo, not just the TPS district.
The Census Bureau reports that the median household income from 2006 - 2010 was $34,260.
There's a lot to be said for paying certain professions more than others, but it's also fair to ask if average teacher salaries that are $23,455 more than the median household are appropriate - or affordable. Can Toledoans, the majority of whom are poor and middle class, continue to afford to pay teachers 72% more than they, themselves, make?
The Census also shows an 8.4% decrease in population - from 313,619 in 2000 to 287,208 in 2010, a loss of 26,411 people. So even less people are paying into the system, and with spending continuing to increase, it means more of a burden on those left.
And let's not forget that they just 'found' and 'unexpected' $8.2 million in additional carryover, resulting in a surplus of $11.22 million going into the 2012-13 school year.
This is a sampling of the facts and figures you need to know as you considering your vote on a 10-year additional 4.9 mill levy. This will be an addition to the 64.39 mills they already collect.
Remember 1 mill on a house valued at $100,000 is about $30.60, so the 64.39 mills to TPS equals more than $1,970 - and they want another $150!