Today’s story about new money for the District walks back an earlier story that said about 150 new students had enrolled this year over last year. Now it appears that so far only 100 additional students have come back. With about 1000 students gone the means the new schools have lured about one tenth of the lost students back. Of course, this is welcome but its only a start.
As for reducing class sizes the additional money won’t be that much help. We are getting 6 new teachers with it which will help a little but most of them will simply be teaching the 100 new students who helped finance the teacher’s return. Now if we had the six new teachers without the additional students that would have meant a reduction in class size. As it is the new teachers are needed, mostly, to teach the 16.6 new students apiece who helped add the teachers to the payroll. Divided over 600 or 700 teachers and 9,000 students there will be a modest decrease in the number of children in each class. The operative word here is “modest.”
What would really make a difference would be if an operational levy passed (without any new students) and that money was used to hire more teachers and lower class size…….or if the $5 million a year from classroom spending that was diverted to pay for Red Plan construction could be put back in the classroom. That lost $5 Million is serious money and a lot bigger deal than the new $600,000 for teacher hiring. We can’t do that because its being used to pay bankers back for lending us money to build the Red Plan.
BTW. The District’s explanation to the State to get approval for spending classroom money on building was that we really wouldn’t need it for the classrooms. Why not? Well, the Red Plan schools would save us so much money on energy costs that we would save $2.5 million a year that could go into the building plan. The other $2.5 million wouldn’t be needed for the classroom because our efficient new (and fewer) schools would not need as many secretary’s and janitors and teachers. That savings could also be put into paying for the building of the Red Plan.
Dr. Dixon desperately tried to convince Duluth that it was Governor Tim Pawlenty that shorted Duluth the money that forced us to cram more kids in our classrooms. Wrong! Dr. Dixon and his loyal School Board took that $5 million a year for the next twenty years out of school operations and used it to build the Red Plan.
I might add that it was nice to see Tim Grover using the word “prudence” again. It is an adjective that escaped from his vocabulary for the last five years.