Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby MissyB » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:01 pm

Debra, I didn't say non-state involvement in ed. We have three levels of government regulating ed. Maybe we don't need three. In re-reading my post, I should have said "less government control" and not "no-government control". I found Ken's suggestion to be general. I am not sure a 5 - 10 million dollar upgrade to the high school would pass a town vote. Costs and taxes keep increasing and salaries are decreasing.

Matt, I agree with your post. We need to get back to basics and parents need to take personal responsibility for their child's education. The world is ever changing, and "basics" would need to be defined. When things were tough, I worked two jobs to make ends meet. That is the way we were raised. Things are different today, and if the parents do not take personal responsibility, their children do not learn personal responsibility. "Technology" is a word that scares me. It is ever changing, and costly to keep up with.
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Sat Dec 18, 2010 9:43 pm

Matt

I agree. When and where do we begin?
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Dennis King » Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:34 pm

MissyB wrote:I am beginning to think that way too, RBarnes. I think if government got out of the schools, they could operate cheaper, more efficient, more effective, and the teachers would no longer be public employees.


I am all for that, here is my idea, Get rid of the state and federal dept of education, keep the responsibility at the town level. It has long been known that for every dollar you send to Washington, you get 30 cents back, the rest is used on administrators writing for grants to beg for the money back and for Washington big whigs who decide who wins and looses.

Let's go simple, Each town taxes is citizens say 2 percent of the value of their homes each year for the cost of a school education. The total money is divided according to the number of kids and special needs kids would get double the amount. Each parent of a child would then have x dollars to spend on the school of their choice. We could use the buildings in town to rent out to companies looking to start a school. For my money, I would prefer a school that has a full 8 hour day and no homework at all, it would be done as part of the school day, say independent study and then a review hall. This way, books all stay in school. I would also want internships and apprenticeships like that have in Europe and schools targeted for kids with certain desires (ie sports, theater arts, building and trades, math and computers, science and biology, etc. This would mean the kids would be on buses a lot longer but they would get education fit just for them. Parents would be happier as the kids are now learning what is truly of interest. Special Ed schools could work on all the basic skills in the younger grades and then move to transition schools and vocational training in the high school. We start by firing all the teachers. The union contracts must be thrown away, we can no longer afford to pay a million dollars for each retiree along with their Cadillac medical plans. Now their needs to be some coordination but I would rather have the towns form regional committees for curriculum review rather than having the state do it.
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby tim dutton » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:00 pm

Changes will need to be realistic. Many changes proposed here cannot happen due to government regulations that will be difficult if not impossible to change.
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:49 pm

tim

We need to try and change them because we are trapped in this mess and the people controlling our schools from the Dept of Education and the State Board of Education are more interested in social engineering and their own monetary self-interests than they are about our town's kids. That's why local control is so important. We know what's best for our community rather than being mandated to fit some bureacrat's ideas of how Merrimack schools should work.
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby RD » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:14 am

Dennis King wrote:
here is my idea, Get rid of the state and federal dept of education



That should be fairly easy and straightforward for the residents of Merrimack to accomplish.
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:12 pm

Rd

It will have to start somewhere. I'm sure Merrimack could find other communities interested in forming some type of coalition. I'd be willing to sit on a committee tasked with contacting other school districts. I know several towns who would probably be interested.
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Debra Huffman » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:55 am

I don't think the goals of these two very different committees - the one suggested by Ken and the one suggested by Jeannine - are mutually exclusive. I think they have different missions, timeframes, strategies and research and would need to be separate committees, but I can see value in moving forward with both, on separate tracks.

Let's say 5 years from now Jeannine's committee has worked out a way to reduce/eliminate gov't involvement in education. Families would still want to educate their children, and many would still choose to pool their resources on a community level and have a commuity school system, and they would still want the best education for their buck.

Let's say Ken's committee has found ways to provide better education for less money. Whether the schools are publicly funded or privately funded, the results of that committee's work would still be useful.

Jeannine and others, do you agree? Do you see value in the committee as proposed by Ken?
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby TonyRichardson » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:54 pm

Debra Huffman wrote:I don't think the goals of these two very different committees - the one suggested by Ken and the one suggested by Jeannine - are mutually exclusive. I think they have different missions, timeframes, strategies and research and would need to be separate committees, but I can see value in moving forward with both, on separate tracks.

Let's say 5 years from now Jeannine's committee has worked out a way to reduce/eliminate gov't involvement in education. Families would still want to educate their children, and many would still choose to pool their resources on a community level and have a commuity school system, and they would still want the best education for their buck.

Let's say Ken's committee has found ways to provide better education for less money. Whether the schools are publicly funded or privately funded, the results of that committee's work would still be useful.

Jeannine and others, do you agree? Do you see value in the committee as proposed by Ken?


Emphasis mine.....

If only it really was a choice rather than the whip of sovereign authority that forces everyone to fund schools.
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:09 pm

Deb

I agree that we need to start looking for ways to improve our educational system in terms of costs and also in terms of mandates (many of which are unnecessary) handed down to local schools without the means to pay for them.

I watched last week's school board meeting and I was very pleased to hear Jodi Vaillancourt list the number of teachers per subject and class sizes. That is very informational when making decisions on what to vote for. I do feel our current School board is on the right track and have communicated this to a few members.

The board members are asking the right questions and some of the replies are very enlightening. Enrollment will be dropping by approximately 60 students in the high school next year. Based on the class sizes, I think losing a few teachers will not have a significant impact on class size.

I was a bit concerned about the cost for 70 computers for the high school. The costs were projected at $70,000 for 70 computers which I found a bit high. There was a long story about how they're aren't enough computers to go around and time sharing is a problem. At the beginning I was believing that all they had were 70 computers to share. One of the board members asked how many computers were in the high school and it turns ot there are approx 468. Granted some are used by admin and teachers, but I don't consider this a dire emergency. I have no problem with updating equipment on a rotating basis and the point I am trying to make here is if the right questions aren't asked, how would anyone known?
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Debra Huffman » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:51 pm

I think I'm just going to wait until Ken has free time again to follow up on this, since it was his idea. The things Jeannine mentioned are valid cost-cutting measures, and certainly deserve to be discussed when discussing the current budget, but I think what Ken was proposing in this "Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost" topic was something quite different.

I look forward to hearing more on this from Ken.
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby RD » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:42 pm

Jeannine Stergios wrote:Deb

I agree that we need to start looking for ways to improve our educational system in terms of costs and also in terms of mandates (many of which are unnecessary) handed down to local schools without the means to pay for them.

I watched last week's school board meeting and I was very pleased to hear Jodi Vaillancourt list the number of teachers per subject and class sizes. That is very informational when making decisions on what to vote for. I do feel our current School board is on the right track and have communicated this to a few members.

The board members are asking the right questions and some of the replies are very enlightening. Enrollment will be dropping by approximately 60 students in the high school next year. Based on the class sizes, I think losing a few teachers will not have a significant impact on class size.

I was a bit concerned about the cost for 70 computers for the high school. The costs were projected at $70,000 for 70 computers which I found a bit high. There was a long story about how they're aren't enough computers to go around and time sharing is a problem. At the beginning I was believing that all they had were 70 computers to share. One of the board members asked how many computers were in the high school and it turns ot there are approx 468. Granted some are used by admin and teachers, but I don't consider this a dire emergency. I have no problem with updating equipment on a rotating basis and the point I am trying to make here is if the right questions aren't asked, how would anyone known?


I think that it's very interesting that this particular post talks about improving "our educational system in terms of costs and also in terms of mandates (many of which are unnecessary)." Yet it says nothing about improving our education system in terms of improving education itself! I agree, Deb, that Ken's ideas warrant a good look; not only for Merrimack, but for school districts beyond. I, too, look forward to hearing more...
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Ken Coleman » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:42 am

Deb,
Sorry it took so long for me to respond, but as you state this is the season that we all are very busy both at home and work. See below;

1. I think for the SB to even consider forming such a committee, they might need to see a list of some of the programs that are being tried elsewhere. (You mentioned a few.) Could a small group (or even one person, citizen or school staff) do some preliminary investigation into what sort of alternative programs are being tried elsewhere, and whether any of them have shown some level of success? (Sounds like you have done some of this research, so maybe this part is already done.)


There is an endless list of innovative programs out there and my ideas would just be a few to start looking at. We have a number of educational conferences in NH throughout the year and at any one of these many of these programs are highlighted and the vendors that supply the materials are always more than willing to set up a visit to a school that is using the new innovation.

2. For many people, there is an underlying resentment of educational innovation. Since the 60's, we've seen educational fads come and go. I fear the public's attitude would be, "Here we go again. Another wack-nut theory." The people on this committee would have to have a very clear mission statement, and the general population would have to understand the potential benefits.


I agree the resistance to change is very high and especially in Merrimack. You know there are a lot of change in business that is deemed “wackly nut” at the start and then 10 years later this is the new business standard (ISO was thought this way early on and now if you want to do business it is a requirement.). Look at our classrooms, 90% percent of what we do in them is the same as we did in the 40’s and 50’s.

If you want to know one of the things that is driving up educational cost we are trying to use the same system that had a graduation rate in the 1950’s in the 50% range and we are trying to apply the same system and now successfully graduate 100% of our students! This would be like taking the process used to build cars before Henry Ford invented the production line and trying to build cars by the millions one at a time!

All this being said, I toughest challenge is to get the public to really buy into change. All change comes with some risk and all change will have some bumps at the start.

3. As you mentioned, Merrimack tends to be resistant to changes in education. Could this group have a prayer of succeeding? I'm not being facetious here.


My biggest worry is your point above. Years ago when we tried to launch the Jefferson Plan is was rejected as “feel good soft education in Merrimack”. Hollis was one of the school districts that picked up many parts of the plan and introduced them in their high school. A couple of years ago on this forum it was questioned why the test scores and graduation rates were so much better in Hollis than Merrimack’s. (Hollis had some of the best in the state). When I suggested (at least here) that we should look at schools like Hollis and copy their innovative programs (This is what any good business would do), people rejected it. All the same type of comments that we see in this string about, just teach better or focus on the right subjects etc. In other words keep building those cars one at a time, just work faster!

Volunteer burnout is a serious obstacle. If there's no hope that any significant suggestions could be implemented, then this group's work would be DOA. That would be a depressing waste of time. This should be seriously considered before work begins.


Deb, you are so right here! My only hope is that the need for better education and lowering cost at the same time might produce the needed change in attitude in Merrimack.

I have around this stuff for over 20 years. Everything that is being said today about cutting class size, reducing teachers pay, getting rid of subjects, buying less computers, vouchers etc has been said for over the last 20 years. The fact is cut too much and Merrimack will end up restoring those cuts a year or two later (One again I have 20 years of history backing me up!)

So the people of Merrimack have a choice here. The fiscal conservatives have an opportunity to lead here by embracing positive change that could lower long term structural cost. In fact a group of fiscal conservatives taking the lead I think is the key to moving something like this forward!

Or we can just keep making the same arguments as we have for over 20 years.

For those of you that want the latter, I have plenty of 20 year old letters you could copy and post today. No need to write new material when the old letters say the same thing.

Every industry that has been around for the last twenty years has undergone radical change. Radical change is NOT using white boards instead of chalk boards to write classroom notes.

I will try to address some of the other post here. I suggest the post on state pension reform (which I support) and choice is in a different string as these cloud this discussion.

Ken

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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Jimbo » Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:38 am

Being in the business, there is no way on God's green earther that 70 desktops would run anywhere near $70K. Whoever did the bidding on this is a natural born idiot or lining pockets with the supplier. This a fine example of not paying actual attention to what the school board spends money on. Man, I could order a HP I-5 Core, 8 Gigs of Ram, 1TB HD, and 1 GB video card, wirless printer, and 23" LCD monitor all for $699 a piece with two year support. You do the math folks.
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Re: Long Term Educational Improvement and Cost Savings

Postby Ken Coleman » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:03 pm

Repeat post removed
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