Monthly Archives: September 2014

Staffing Case Study

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

We are going to be hearing a lot about staffing and enrollment this budget season.

A quick case study may help sort out the spin from the reality. For no reason in particular, let’s turn our gaze on Danville Elementary School

The most recent complete staffing and enrollment figures available from the NH Department of Education (DOE) are for the last academic year, 2013/14, so we will focus on that year.  Here’s the DOE link to this information: Danville.

Total enrollment was 300 (again, that is for 2013/14).

I’m going to focus on grades 1-5, because the NH DOE excludes the Kindergarten and pre-K enrollment and teachers from the student/teacher calculation.

Let’s look at class size first.

Grade Students Classes Average Max Class Size
1 54 3 18.0 20
2 49 3 16.3 20
3 26 2 13.0 23
4 60 3 20.0 26
5 56 3 18.7 26
Total 245 14 17.5

 

The Maximum Class Size column is based on Timberlane district policy IIB.  We can see that the 26 Third Grade students exceeded the max size for that grade level by 3 students, resulting in 2 Third Grade classes with  13 students each.  For the Fifth Grade group, the 56 students could have been organized into 2 classes of 28, but this would have exceeded policy at that grade level by 2 students per class.  As a result, we see 3 Fifth Grade classes with an average size of 19 students each.

Staffing
Staffing is reported by the district for each school.  Here’s an example of the Danville A12B 2013-14.  The numbers are “Full-Time Equivalent” staff… not an employee headcount, but rather a sum of all the full- time plus part-time hours.  For example, we see 6.5 administrative /other support staff, which could be made up of 5 full-time staff plus 3 half-timers. In other words, there could be 8 staff members, but 6.5 “Full-Time Equivalent” staff.  The district’s staffing report is broken down by Male/Female teachers, and is not summed, so I am going to regroup the information and add subtotals and totals below.  Trust me, this blur of numbers becomes interesting very soon.

Danville Staffing Table 2013-14

Student/Teacher Ratio

Student/teacher ratio as calculated by NH DOE excludes Kindergarten and pre-K students and their teachers.   The number of students at Danville in grades 1-5 is 245.  The highlighted staff above – 25.3 full time equivalents —  are the grade 1-5 teachers for both regular and special ed.

245 students in grades 1-5 divided by 25.3 regular and special ed teachers gives a ratio of 9.7 Students per Teacher.

The NH DOE does not report a student/teacher ratio by individual school.  The individual school numbers are aggregated to give the district’s student/teacher ratio.  For Timberlane last year, that ratio was 11.3.Danville’s 9.7 means Danville has fewer students per teacher than the district average.

In Danville,  the average class size of 17.5 students coexists with a student/teacher ratio of 9.7, because there are 25.3 teachers and only 14 classes.  Of course there are reasons there are more teachers than classes… Special Ed, music, phys ed. etc.

It is also interesting to note that the 300 students at this school are supported by a total staff of 67.1 adults in all roles.. an overall ratio of 4.5 students for each adult.  Also, setting aside administrative and support staff there are a total of 56 educators and instructional aides taking care of the needs of the 300 students, a ratio of 5.4 students per educator.  These are not metrics tracked by the NH DOE.

Of course no analysis would be complete without a look back.  This blog has been using the 2007/08 year as our comparison point because that was the district’s recent peak enrollment.  In the academic year 07/08, (just seven years ago!) Danville had 409 students of whom 363 were in grades 1-5.

This means enrollment has fallen by 26.6% overall, but in grades 1-5 it is down by an astonishing 32.5%.

The staffing matrix for 2007/08 looked like this:

Danville Staffing Table 2007-08

From 2013/2014, staffing is down 8.5% (73.7 FTEs declining to 67.1) .  Interestingly, all of the staffing decrease is in the teachers.  Numbers for admin, support, and instructional aides have hardly changed.  The decrease in teachers is 14.8% (29.7 FTEs declining to 25.3).

The student/teacher ratio for that year:

363 students in grades 1-5, divided by 29.7 regular and special ed teachers gives a ratio of 12.2 students per teacher.

The change in student teach ratio from 12.2 in 2007/08 to 9.7 in 2013/14 tells us that the drop in enrollment was bigger than the reduction in teaching staff.

The reduction of overall staff by 8.5% compared to a reduction of overall enrollment by 26.6% shows in a nutshell that the district is not engaging seriously with the long term trend of declining enrollment.

Conclusion

The purpose of this analysis is not to single out Danville Elementary School for criticism.  If anything, Danville shows more responsiveness to declining enrollment than the district as whole, which has almost the same FTE staffing number in 2013/14 as it had in 2007/08 (District staffing was 697.5 FTEs in 2007/08, and 694.9 FTEs in 2013/14, while enrollment was down 16%).  The purpose is to put the numbers in the familiar context of a specific institution.

Enrollment numbers are as of October 1 every year, so we should have the Timberlane figures for the 2014/15 soon.  Staffing is reported officially by the district to the NH DOE in mid-Oct, which means we should have access to those numbers no later than  the third week of the month.

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Per Pupil Costs Rocket!

                                                    Guest contribution by Arthur Green

The 2013/14 Timberlane budget was advertised as a modest 3.2% increase compared to the previous year. This spin ignored the fact that enrollment was decreasing at the same time.  From 2012/13 to 2013/14, enrollment dropped about 150 students, or -3.6%.  (4,072 to 3,924)

We have pointed out that this will affect per-pupil costs.  Timberlane likes to say that its per-pupil cost is $13,329, which is below the state average of $13,459.  However, these figures are 2 years old.. and there have been 2 years of substantial budget increases in Timeberlane since then.

We have been forecasting that the per-pupil cost for 2013/14 at Timberlane would be $14,233.  Now the district has reported its official per-pupil cost to the NH Department of Education, and it turns out our forecast was too cautious.  The district’s number is $14,414, an 8.1% increase in a single year. (This information is from the MS-25 form submitted to the Department of Education and recently posted on the Timberlane Budget Committee website.)

The NH DOE will not publish its statewide 2013/14   per-pupil cost average for several months, so Timberlane will be able to continue to advertise the outdated $13,329 (as it does in the district Report Card) on the grounds that the statewide comparison point is not yet available.

Residents and taxpayers should keep in mind that as enrollment declines, even a flat budget means more resources available for the smaller student body, and more money spent per pupil.

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Filed under Budget 2014-2015

Security Video: Do You See any Harassment?

This is the so-called incident that got me so-called banned from the SAU without the so-called written permission of the Superintendent. You will see that it complies exactly with my narrative posted on my blog on July 24 :  “Target Acquired!”

Just so you don’t think your file is not playing properly, please note that there is no audio with this recording. Most security recordings do not have audio as I understand it.

http://youtu.be/gIz_nquIkAE

Huge thanks to a follower for converting the file into a playable form and posting it to YouTube so that all could view it.

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Filed under Pinocchio Academy, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior

NEWS FLASH: SAU RELEASES SECURITY VIDEO

Stay tuned….  I’ll be picking up the video on a thumb drive this afternoon and will post it to YouTube later today.  It will be linked from here when it is done.

Thank you to Rich Girard, John Lyscars and others who requested the video also.  Biggest thanks to Attorney Richard J. Lehmann of Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. in Concord who made it happen.

UPDATE:  The file that was released is a .avi imm4 type file that is not read by ordinary MAC or PC media programs.  Right now neither I nor anyone I have reached out to can read the file that was provided.  Neither can anyone convert it to another format.

Just as soon as the file can be played, I will record it and post it here.

Here is a link to the file on Google Drive for any who wish to try their hand:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6aEbOa1cWqpakVaSnZfUVVDNmM/edit?usp=sharing

 

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Press Weighs in on Lawyer’s Letters

Attorney Richard Lehmann’s letters have made quite a stir in the press.

Rich Girard, radio commentator, was first off the mark devoting an hour to the controversy at Timberlane.  You can listen to his September 19th segment here:

Girard on Timberlane Sept. 19, 2014

Rich’s outrage is absolutely well founded.  I’ll be going on Rich’s show on Monday morning, Sept. 22, 2014 starting around 6 am.

The Union Leader’s story said: “She [Green] was issued a formal censure for violating open meeting laws and posting ‘disrespectful, inappropriate’ messages on a personal blog.” This sentence gives the reader the impression that the accusations in the censure letter were proven fact.  They are not and I dispute them.

Union Leader article Sept. 19, 2014

I do not believe I have violated any Open Meeting laws.  Writing to a quorum of a board is not a crime in New Hampshire. Furthermore, my blog is about Timberlane school district issues and is both accurate and professional.  Before moving to New Hampshire, I was previously a freelance writer with a number of respected publications.  (I was, for instance, the Canadian stringer for the Economist‘s Finance and Economics section for two years.)  The superintendent and my school board peers simply don’t like what I say so they discredit it as inaccurate and disrespectful when it is simply truthful or a fair expression of opinion.

The press has also reported that the letter of censure detailed 60 examples of inaccuracies in my blog.  The letter in fact pointed out 16 quotes and did not state what was inaccurate or otherwise objectionable about them.  I stand by every single word I have written. See these quotes for yourself.

Here is the letter of censure in its entirety: Letter of Censure Aug 28

The Eagle Tribune did a much better job of reporting the story, though it, too, reported inaccurately about the censure letter when the reporter wrote: “Last month School Board Chairman Nancy Steenson wrote Green a letter, outlining about 60 specific blog entries she said were inaccurate.”  The Eagle Trib’s James Niedzinski  did an otherwise outstanding job on a complicated subject with a long history and he has my thanks.

Here is the Eagle Tribune story:  Board Member Stirs the Pot

UPDATE:  Sept. 22, 2014:  Listen to Rich Girard interview me at the crack of dawn:  Girard interviews Green     Thank you, Rich!

 

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Filed under Budget 2014-2015, DELIBERATIVE 2014, Expenditures, Fill-time Kindergarten, My censure, Non-public session abuse, Right to Know issues, School Board Behavior, Spanish Consultant Contract, Taxes

Green Turns Spotlight on Police

This is a letter written on my behalf by Attorney Richard J. Lehmann to Lt. William Baldwin of the Plaistow Police Department. This letter is practically a work of art and I am hugely grateful to have such an outstanding lawyer on my side.

baldwin letter

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Filed under My censure, Pinocchio Academy, Sandown Issues, School Board Behavior

Green Pushes Back with Legal Letter

Today Attorney Richard J. Lehmann sent a letter on my behalf to Dr. Metzler concerning issues under the Right to Know law.  The letter takes issue with the non-public session that was held to discuss Mrs. Metzler’s consultant contract, and the poor disclosure concerning the decision to award the contract.  It calls for this contract to be rescinded.  The letter also challenges the restriction put on my access to the SAU building by Superintendent Metzler whereby I am required to obtain written permission from the superintendent to enter the SAU office to inspect public documents.  I am  also demanding (for the second time) the release of the security video of the so-called “incident” on July 24th between me and the superintendent’s executive assistant, Cathy Belcher,  a video which I want to clear my name.  Other issues are mentioned as well.

Enjoy the read.  Tomorrow I will post the letter Attorney Lehmann sent to Plaistow Police Officer, Lt. Baldwin, who is supposedly investigating the case.

READ ATTORNEY LEHMANN’S LETTER TO DR. METZLER HERE:  metzler letter

 

 

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Filed under Sandown Issues