Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Saving Schools through Cost Savings

The Petersburg City school system is in the news again. Back in December, we commented on Del. Saxman’s op-ed, “To Improve Failing Schools, Utilize Free-Market Principles,” in which he examined free-market reforms to help the failing schools in Petersburg.

Today, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports that a consulting firm hired to examine the school system has identified more than $19 million in cost-savings that can be implemented over the next five years.

One of the greatest concerns raised in the report was that Petersburg spends less per pupil on actual instruction compared to five other Virginia school districts with similar demographics, including Hopewell, however, the administrative costs on a per-pupil basis was the highest.
For example, Hopewell had 3.75 principals or assistant principals for every 1,000 students in 2004-05, Petersburg had 5.29. Hopewell had 16.05 teacher aides per 1,000 students, compared with Petersburg's 9.15.

When four of Petersburg’s seven public schools are unaccredited and the school system has the second highest high school drop out rate in Virginia, it appears clear that the same old way of doing business is not helping the students in Petersburg schools. Hopefully this report will serve as a first step in infusing some badly needed new ideas into the Petersburg school system.


  • And just how much money does the Commonwealth contribute to this rat-hole, and others like it, each year? Thanks to the most mind-numbing funding formula every devised, our tax dollars support this waste in a number of the 134 school districts across the Commonwealth. Want reform? Just set a maximum ratio of admin staff to teachers....that's all you need to do! I recall in the Wilder budget cuts, Senate Finance was debating across the board vs targeted cuts in aid to secondary education & Senator Buzz Emick remarked that he favored targeted cuts, because his school board would cancel the fifth grade before they would lay off an administrator. Nothing has changed.....

    By Blogger Frank, at 1/16/2007 8:44 PM  

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