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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:49 pm
by Jeannine Stergios
Debra

Funny you should mention about forming a group. I have been considering forming a Merrimack Taxpayer group and forming an alliance with other taxpayer groups around the state. The political and economical climate is favorable to get our voices heard right now.

I do know a few of the people involved in those groups through my business. I will see what I can do.

Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:12 pm
by Debra Huffman
Excellent! I'm sure our state reps will be more than happy to have an organized citizens group behind them. Good luck.

Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:06 pm
by Jeannine Stergios
Deb

Thanks. I have already begun in contact with a few people and should have something concrete to report in a few weeks

Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:53 am
by MattPublicover
Now you are talking! One person with an opinion accomplishes nothing. There needs to be concerted action by multiple people with similar views to effect any sort of change (hence the idea of voting). Whoever came up with Merrimack Cares started something from the grass roots and effected some change, and even though the group has been silent for years now, I believe the effects are still being felt. Whoever started Merrimack Votes created something that is a benefit to the community, and undervalued.

I did not agree with the Merrimack Cares ideology, but I wholeheartedly support the idea of citizens organizing to educate and propose change. I have some issues with the Tea Party, but same thing, they are working within the system, not simply expecting the system to crawl into a corner and die so we can start again.

You are right, Jeanine, one person standing in front of the school board does not produce change. I've been there myself. If Martin Luther King, or Mahatma Ghandi, or John Adams had given up after being rebuffed in their first attempts, the world would be a poorer place. It does take a lot of effort to move an institution. More shoulders working together (rather than separately and without any knowledge of each other) helps the cause.

I would rather be involved on a committee that presents a good workable proposal that ends up being rejected by the voters than to make no attempt at all. Ideas that I think ought to be on the table:

12-month school year or a longer school day: The only way we can actually expect to provide more education is to have them in front of the teachers for a larger portion of their childhood years. Simply restructuring the day will only free up a limited amount of time, measurable in minutes rather than hours.

Assigning a laptop to every high school student, with an expectation parents either accept responsibility for replacement if it is lost/damaged or pay for insurance for the same (except for families with proven inability to do so). Don't make it optional. Eliminate computer labs.

Use the cloud (on-line software) for the students to access specific programs for specific classes rather than buying software that gets outdated.

Investigate the cost/benefit of on-line texts, only possible if all students have laptops. We will need to have a place for students without internet connections at home to download the daily readings/worksheets before the go home. Save kids' backs, no need to lug around heavy books.

Yes, teach Chinese. Why do we have to be at the end of a trend? It's coming, let's be in the vanguard.

More emphasis on programs for AP, gifted/talented. I am concerned that in an effort to improve education for the weaker students, we are shortchanging the best and the brightest. The number of students in last year's graduating class going to the very top colleges in the country was surprisingly low. We are educating good students, but we need to be sure we are also educating great students.

We need to look into the spiraling cost of all the "service contracts" that we end up paying for all the new technology we are investing in. Can there be a consolidated purchasing agent that provides service for all of it?

Will all this be less expensive? I doubt it. But hopefully any increase in cost will me much more than offset by the improvement in education, at which point the taxpayers will have more reason to believe they are getting their money's worth. Imagine the effect on housing values in Merrimack if we come up with an educational model that is the envy of the state.

Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:27 am
by Debra Huffman
MattPublicover wrote:Will all this be less expensive? I doubt it. But hopefully any increase in cost will me much more than offset by the improvement in education, at which point the taxpayers will have more reason to believe they are getting their money's worth.

I agree with many of your ideas Matt, but this statement is another reason why this committee will need a very clear mission statement. Ken's original post was to look at ways to improve education and reduce cost. If that's not possible, then the committee's final report will provide that conclusion as well as summarize all the avenues they explored.

I think a conclusion that provides ed improvement without cost containment will be far more challenging to sell to the community, and I think you'll find fewer people willing to serve on a committee that doesn't have that balance in its mission statement.

Perhaps as an outgrowth of this committee's work, ed improvements that DO cost more might be explored further, and perhaps the community will support them. Who knows? But I hope Ken's original idea is possible.

Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:57 pm
by tastyratz
Matt,
I think you took a few ideas and ran with the suitcase of money. While these might be ideal education examples they all carry a hefty education cost.
Laptops provided to students would be an extreme example. one laptop might at best suffice for a high school term, if not 3 usable years provided they don't break/get lost/stolen/etc. It provides an undue financial burden on the taxpayers, and on the parents of children who lose them. I don't know about you but I am not poor and buying a laptop would be a surprising burden cost.

there is approximately 360 2009 graduating seniors. For simplicity 4x360 = 1440 students, or 1440 laptops purchased likely every 3 years non considering breakage/theft/loss.
You are talking 1/2 million dollars every year to keep each hs student in front of a laptop if the total per student cost was 1,000 (low).

1/2 million bux for a learning tool that could equally be a distraction as much as it is useful.

"the cloud" is a windows commercial for an impractical implementation. I am not sure where you might think cloud computing is licensing exempt. You are still required to pay per seat or per non virtual terminal depending on the agreement. free software alternatives are not suitable for business inter compatibility and standards. If it was as easy as installing linux and open office the world would do so. Sometimes the nonstandard training and support costs more than the license.

Pooled resources over thin clients might be a wise investment for specific applications and would be a wise purchase to setup a citrix environment internally. It also would lead to lower management costs and overhead for upgrades.

Chinese as a language is incredibly difficult to learn. The Asian languages are not as similar or latin based so you would only be prepared for one language. While it could help with global commerce relations it would not be beneficial to the student daily life after the fact.

4 years of spanish however would as its predominantly the second most spoken language. French should be 1 year for the basics at best if not eliminated for substitution with spanish.
Bilingual skills also help in child development at a young age so shifting the programs to a very young age for exposure would result in a brighter child (while simply reallocating resources)

Merrimack already has an educational model resulting in some of the best versus the rest of the state.
It also has a very high rate of foreclosure, I prefer to see a focus on reducing the latter at the moment. Reducing tax implications and burden could mean some people get to keep their homes and remain taxpayers.