Thursday, August 24, 2006

NACS School board and Superintendent need to take math class

NACS School board and Superintendent need to take math class
Math is a wonderful thing. Engineers, doctors and many others use math to make life better themselves and others. Math can be used to prove or disprove assumptions and theories. A decision based on an analysis using bad data can prove very costly. NACS superintendent told taxpayers he supports the Carroll renovation based on demographic studies done by a world-renowned demographer. A study done in 2004 projected high school enrollment in 2015 to be 2,698, yet a second study two years later projected it had decreased to 2,431. I decided to verify the numbers and what I found is frightening.

The demographer’s 2006 actual values for 2001 through 2005 were higher than that reported to the Indiana Department of Education. The demographer’s 2004 study used lower enrollment totals for 2001 through 2004 than those used in 2006 yet still different from those reported to the Department of Education. How can actual enrollment values change for 2001 through 2004? We have three different sets of numbers and a superintendent who is not concerned about the discrepancy.

The demographer projected a 3.9% increase in 2005 when in reality it was 5.6% and believes growth will decrease to 2.3% a year in 2015. The new Cedar Canyon Elementary thought they would have 370 students, but instead have 440 an increase of 18.9%.

Projecting future enrollment uses the past rate of change to predict future enrollment. Inflating 2001 through 2004 enrollment numbers beyond actual enrollment values reduces the calculated rate of change over this time frame, reducing future projected enrollment numbers. My calculations using the Social Security Administration’s population data as well as US Census Bureaus data, projects NACS will have 2,711 high school students in 2015.

We are not talking about high level math, simply auditing the basic numbers and making sure they are correct. When I asked the superintendent to review the numbers for accuracy, he had full faith in the demographer. The purpose of the school board is to verify studies they authorize are accurate. Checking a few numbers should be simple, but they won't do it.


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