Your school board has indicated it wants to cut administrators and the budget. Even though we regularly see surpluses in the $2 million range, a suggestion that we hold flat our budget and cut it by our surplus was met with screams right out of The Shining. And of course, any staffing cuts would be disastrous to education, that just goes without saying though many have to say it over and over because a lie often repeated has a chance of being confused with truth. This blog has been reporting for four years that Timberlane is hugely overstaffed. We can prove it six ways to the Overlook Hotel.
Bedford is one of the best school districts in the state. Timberlane would do well to aspire to Bedford’s results and could start working towards that by reproducing its evidently excellent staffing model. Would this mean Timberlane has to hire more teachers and support staff? Well, here’s the shiny, bald truth: Bedford has 334 more students than Timberlane Regional High School, yet has just 7 staff more. When you adjust Timberlane’s student/teacher ratio to that of Bedford’s, you find that we could easily lose 13 teachers in the high school alone and still aspire to the highest of academic outcomes – with leaving our special education staffing completely untouched. Timberlane high school’s total staffing needs to come down 30 full-time equivalent positions to approximate Bedford’s staffing model.
The comparison is equally shocking when we look at our elementary schools. North Salem Elementary has the same number of students as our own Atkinson Academy. Atkinson also operates one half day pre-k classroom. So, you would expect the staffing levels in both schools to be similar though Atkinson would have .5 of a teacher and .5 of an aid for the Pre-K program.
Instead of being similar, however, the two schools aren’t even close. Atkinson has 9 more staff than N.Salem. When you adjust that for the extra two half time positions, Atkinson is over staffed by 8 full-time positions. (Only 3 of these are teacher positions.) For a school with 348 students, this is staggering difference in staffing.
Pollard is an even more dramatic case.
Then there is our middle school:
These examples were not cherry picked. Bedford was chosen because its academic results are better than Timberlane and is a reasonably similar size. North Salem Elementary and North Londonderry Elementary were chosen because they are the same size as Timberlane’s elementary schools. (All Timberlane schools will follow in coming days. Thanks to Arthur Green for obtaining this information from the DOE via Right to Know and for compiling this information.)
The undeniable truth is that Timberlane schools are demonstrably overstaffed not just in administration but in teachers and other positions as well. Tax bills came to our doors in the past few weeks shouting, “Wendy, I’m home!” Unfortunately taxpayers can’t lock themselves in the bathroom. What we can do is support the budget committee and the school board in pushing back against baseless histrionics. Timberlane towns can no longer afford a school district that sees itself as an employment agency rather than an operation responsible to the taxpayers for delivering a quality product efficiently.
A Trim and Fit Timberlane
Based on the staffing levels of comparable districts with same sized schools, this is the number of staff and positions that Timberlane could cut, all without touching special education:
To be clear no one is proposing we cut this many positions in one year, but there is no doubt some cutting is necessary and should not be met with predictions of Armageddon. Too many of the arguments in public education use students as a cloak for very adult interests. Don’t be fooled. It’s all about jobs and empire building. Doing more with ample but sensible resources will be done only when you insist on it. Many dream of moving to a lower tax district and prefer that fantasy over attending a school deliberative session and the social discomfort that may entail. Just remember that lower taxes are not against the interests of education. In the most academically successful districts in NH, with only a few exceptions, good fiscal management goes hand in hand with good academic outcomes. Disciplined management carries its excellence into all areas.
Support Timberlane’s school board and budget committee in their cuts this year. Attend school deliberative session to protect those cuts from those organized few who would reverse them. Do you want to live in dread of your tax bill every year?