Guest Contribution by Arthur Green*
The Cost Per Pupil (CPP) report for the 2017/18 school year has been posted by the NH Department of Education.
Timberlane’s cost per pupil is up a very substantial $500 from the prior year at a flubbery $17,280 for every student from kindergarten to 12th grade. You might not think this so bad until you know better districts do more with much less.
Let’s see how Timberlane compares to the other 9 NH districts with a similar student population, program structure, and number of schools.
Timberlane is highest, 8.9% above the state average. The comparable districts are 7.4% below state average. Timberlane’s CPP is more than $2,500 higher than the average of comparable school districts.
A few weeks ago, I commented on the spring 2018 SAT results here. Three of Timberlane’s peer districts achieved higher SATs than Timberlane in both Math and ELA (English Language Arts), those being Bedford, Londonderry and Salem. If we look at the next-highest CPP amongst those 3, we see that Londonderry spent $16,177 per pupil to achieve better academic results than Timberlane – $1,100 less. Apply that to a student population of 3,500, and it shows an opportunity to save over $3.5 million, with no sacrifice to educational outcomes.
Finally, let’s have a quick look at rising spending per pupil over the past 5 years:
Spending per pupil increased across the state by 13% over the past 5 years, which seems to me quite substantial during non-inflationary times, and quite at variance with the perennial complaints from some quarters that education is systematically underfunded.
The spending in the comparable districts has increased by a similar 13%.
Timberlane stands out with an increase of 19% over the period. If Timberlane’s spending had increased by only the same percentage as its 9 peer districts, the total budget would be lower by $2.7 million. Time to do some fat shaming at Timberlane. Management needs to be put on a diet by elected officials.
Note: CPP as defined by the state excludes certain items, such as transportation and tuition to outside institutions, in order to arrive at a number which is meant to be comparable across districts. Timberlane’s budget per pupil in 2018 was $20,000, which is a clearer measure of the overall taxpayer burden. But the state CPP is a convenient figure for comparison across different districts.
*All fat references added by Donna Green.
I’ve been told that Superintendent Metzler brought up my name repeatedly during the SAU meeting last night. Enjoy this brief extract from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller:
Colonel Cathcart … was tangled up in a brand-new, menacing problem of his own: Yossarian!
Yossarian! The mere sound of that execrable, ugly name made his blood run cold and his breath come in labored gasps. …. The name of the man who had stood naked in ranks that day to receive his Distinguished Flying Cross from General Dreedle had also been … Yossarian! And now it was a man named Yossarian who was threatening to make trouble over the sixty missions he had just ordered the men in his group to fly. Colonel Cathcart wondered gloomily if it was the same Yossarian.
… A moment ago there had been no Yossarians in his life; now they were multiplying like hobgoblins.
… he sat right back down behind his desk and made a cryptic notation on his memorandum pad to look into the whole suspicious business of the Yossarians right away. He wrote his reminder to himself in a heavy and decisive hand … so that it read:
Yossarian! ! ! (?) !
He … resolved to embark upon a mature and systematic evaluation of the entire military situation. With the businesslike air of a man who knows how to get thinks done, he found a large white pad, drew a straight line down the middle and crossed it near the top… at the head of the left column … he wrote “Black Eyes!!!”. At the top of the right column he wrote “Feathers in my Cap!!! !!”. He leaned back once more to inspect his chart admiringly from an objective perspective.
Alongside “Ferrara” and “Naked man in formation (After Avignon)” he then wrote:
Alongside “Bologna (Bomb line moved on map during)” “Food poisoning (during Bolgna)” and “Moaning (epidemic of during Avignon briefing)” he wrote in a bold, decisive hand:
Those entries labeled “?” were the ones he wanted to investigate immediately to determine if Yossarian had played any part in them.
Simon and Schuster, New York: 1955, pp. 206-210.
Thanks to Arthur Green for the literary reference.
Today Justice N. William Delker of Rockingham Superior Court ruled that the Timberlane School Board must attend the next SAU 55 Board meeting and must deliberate in good faith over SAU 55’s 2019/20 budget. If the Timberlane board fails to attend or to provide a quorum, the judge also ordered that the SAU 55 Board could deliberate and vote on the budget without a quorum present. The order further said that “[A]ny Timberlane School Board Member who is present for a meeting of less than a quorum shall be entitled to vote all of the Timberlane School District votes (or a proportionate share thereof) as authorized by RSA 194-C:7 (2008).”
The Hampstead School District won all of its requests.
Just recently hired, Timberlane’s counsel was not present in court as he had previously committed to being out of the country. He did, of course, submit a written objection to Hampstead’s demand for a Writ of Mandamus, as well as a subsequent request for clarification by the court. Here are all the filings as well as today’s decision:
Emergency Petition (1) This is Hampstead School District’s petition to the court.
Objection to Hampstead Petition This is Timberlane’s response.
For those who understand the history of this dispute, this is a disappointing day for Timberlane and its taxpayers.
Did you hear that noise on Friday afternoon? It was SAU 55 falling apart.
Believe it or not, the arrogant folks that populate the Hampstead School Board think the best way to conduct SAU 55 business is to sue their fellow SAU board members; namely, those of the Timberlane School Board. The suit was filed in Rockingham Superior Court on Friday.
The Hampstead School Board is asking the court to issue a Writ of Mandamus which would require Timberlane School Board members to attend SAU meetings and vote on an SAU budget. Timberlane seems to be boycotting SAU meetings until their votes are recognized and Jason Cipriano, SAU 55’s chairman, steps down in favor of a Timberlane chairman. It will be hugely interesting when Timberlane’s legal representation explains to the judge the circumstances leading up to this impasse.
The two boards that make up SAU 55’s board have serious differences. I’ll try to be fair here. Timberlane is 100% correct, and Hampstead is breaking every rule in the parliamentary procedure book to cling to illicit power. Rather than surrender the chairmanship of SAU 55’s board as demanded by the Timberlane majority of the SAU board, Hampstead is spending its taxpayers dollars and yours to defend its illegitimate chairmanship.
Just so you understand how things work, you should know that Mr. Cipriano’s wife was hired as a teacher in the Timberlane district a few years ago, while he was on the SAU board. Timberlane has been an employment agency named “Nepotism” for years. Timberlane’s former boards never saw anything wrong with it. Neither did they see anything wrong with Dr. Metzler’s legal bullying – cease and desist orders, no trespass declarations. These are symptoms of failing management. The symptoms have now erupted into a full blown illness.
In light of all this, Stefanie Dube’s citizen petitioned warrant article that will be on the March ballot looks amazingly prescient. She is asking voters of the four Timberlane towns to consider withdrawing from SAU 55. Hampstead deserves to have SAU 55 all to itself and wise voters should make it so.
Guest Contribution by Arthur Green
TRSD embraces the proposition that there is more to excellence than academic achievement. There must be. In evidence, here are the 2018 standardized test results posted to the NH DOE web site early last week.
I’ll focus primarily on the SAT (grade 11) results, as a proxy for the result of the students’ educational careers at Timberlane.
First the “raw” reported numbers:
I don’t know what the TRSD administration has to say about these results, as I don’t recall seeing their press release on this topic.
Now for context.
First, the percent of students meeting or exceeding the proficiency standard, with the state average shown for comparison:
Keep in mind that grade 11 has been using the (revised) SAT as a state-wide general measure only for the past 3 years, so these years may not be directly comparable to the prior years which used different tests. We can work around that problem by showing the Timberlane result as a ratio compared to the corresponding state average. On the next graph, the line at 1.00 represents the state average. So, for example, in 2010 Timberlane’s ELA and Math results were both at about 0.9 relative to the state average, or in other words 10% below state average in the percentage of students achieving proficiency.
To get a view on whether TRSD is making tangible progress, I’ve put the result above onto a scatter chart. On this chart the x-axis is ELA, the y-axis is math, the crossing point represents the state average in both ELA and math. The right-hand half of the chart is above state average results in ELA, the upper half of the chart is above state average results in math.
In only one recent year, 2013, has TRSD been clearly above state average in both ELA and math. 2015 represented a significant low point, following which the district has climbed back close to the state average, with math showing above-average results in all of the past 3 years, and ELA just below average in 2 years, just above in the third.
And for a different sort of context, let’s see the 2018 grade 11 result for the “comparable” NH school districts which have a similar enrollment, number of schools, and grade levels served.
This is another scatter chart with ELA on the x-axis, math on the y-axis:
Finally, let’s see how the TRSD class of 2019 has fared through their statewide test points over the years since they were in grade 3:
A school district cannot be described as “excelling” if it is at or below the average of the state or of its peer districts in standardized evaluations. Academic achievement is part of excellence.
Parents and educators should want to know more about educational practices at the higher-achieving peer districts, all of which spend less per pupil than Timberlane. (Bedford, $12,867, Londonderry $15,479, Salem $14,846 in the most recent available 2016-17 report. Almost forgot, Timberlane was $16,780).
My commentary from last year on the 2017 SAT results.
12:07 PM (2 hours ago)