Wednesday, September 20, 2006

In God I Trust, all others bring data!

Some individuals are writing some pretty obvious falsehoods about the NACS petitions. In some cases they contradict themselves several times in the same article. However, the common theme is they do not present any data nor refernce to support their position. My data comes from;
NACS June 1, 2005 Feasibility Study

Here are some of the most blatant myths.

Myth: A second high school will cause a reduction in course offerings and programs for all students in grades K-12.

Truth: Course offerings such as advance placement already have enough students to offer multiple classes now. Two schools have enough interested students to efficiently and economically offer the same courses now. A review of teacher certifications shows that there are at most eight teachers that have unique certificates. At most only eight additional teachers would need to be hired. However, with higher enrollment numbers, comes the need for additional teachers with these certifications. Thus, the actual number of additional teachers required to provide the same courses now may be far less. The purpose of public high school is to teach students how to teach themselves and prepare students for further education. It is not to replace college or post high school education. Offering additional courses does not increase ability of the student to obtain a position nor enhance their ability to enter higher education; rather it dilutes the core subject base. In simple terms it provides more electives to choose from.

Myth: A second high school will increase class sizes for all students in grades K-12 because NACS will not be able to afford as many teachers.

Truth: The current student teacher ratio is 19 to 1. Studies show there is no correlation between class sizes under 30 and academic performance. This is a red herring statement. Teaching positions are based on enrollment numbers. There were 87 unique teachers at Carroll and the Academy last year. Two separate schools. The Academy had a lower ratio with fewer students. If you increase class size, then they must be maintaining course offerings. A 10% increase in class size (from 19 to 21 students) is equivalent to ten new teachers. A well run school should be trying to maintain at least a ratio of 25 students to each teacher to keep costs low for good utilization of infrastructure and staff.

Myth: A second high school will possibly eliminate the Freshman Academy. Why eliminate a program that is doing what it was designed to do?

Truth: The NACS board has presented no data to substantiate its success nor have they identified criteria used to measure success. The academy is an academic provider and as such any success or failure needs to be measured in terms of academics, not touchy, feely and subjective feelings. In God I trust all others bring data.

Myth: A second high school will cause an estimated annual increase in operational costs by $2.9million.

Truth: The NACS June 1, 2005 feasibility study on page 36 identifies a net increase in operating costs of $1,123,288. This is based on a new school size of 356,250 sq. ft. that is 38% larger per student than the current Carroll high school. Building a correctly sized high school would be 240,838 sq. ft. This is 115,412 sq. ft. smaller than the study’s school and reduces net operating costs by $461,648 per year. In addition the study did not evaluate the cost of bussing. Bussing to two schools will be cheaper than bussing all students to one. Two high schools would reduce maintenance, fuel and labor costs. A proper cost evaluation would look at all costs over the life of the schools. As buildings age, they require ever more expensive maintenance.

Myth: A second high school will exceed the board’s proposal by an estimated $54.2 million.

Truth: The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. The NACS Board proposes to spend $63.75 million. The NACS board spent $18 million to increase capacity by 200 students; spent $0.9 million to convert the Carroll Middle School to a Freshmen Academy; spent over $35 million to build a replacement middle school all with the intent to increase capacity at the high school level. The NACS board has spent over $54 million to date and plans to spend another $63.75 million for a total of over $118 million. Is this cheaper?

Myth: A second high school will cost taxpayers about 129percent more than the board’s recommendation. Do you want to pay more taxes?

Truth: According to the NACS June 1, 2005 Feasibility Study, it will not cost $118 million. The NACS $118 million has $20 million in Carroll upgrades, $27 million in athletic facilities, uses construction costs of $275 per sq. ft. versus $161 per sq. ft, uses 250 sq. ft. per student versus the current Carroll design of 181.76 sq. ft per student. When these errors are corrected a new high school is estimated using their construction cost of $275 per sq. ft. at $66 million. New high school for $66 million or renovated 37 year old school for $63.75 million?

Myth: Two high schools would increase property taxes significantly more than what is needed.

Truth: The band-aid approach instead of using a long term plan has increased our property taxes significantly. Renovation of a nearly 40 year old building is not long term planning and costs more in the long term. Renovation is a band-aid approach resulting in higher taxes five years from now.

Myth: Two high schools will cost far more and provide far less to our students.

Truth: Two high schools will provide the same level of education at lower cost long term through lower maintenance and better utilization of infrastructure.

This petition drive is not about two high schools, but is about spending taxpayer’s money wisely. We have years before additional high school capacity is needed. We have years to perform a real study, using real numbers, using good accounting standards and from these create a long term plan for NACS. Sign Blue to keep property taxes low through responsible spending and accounting of taxpayers’ money.


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