Gadfly Bites 12/15/17 - Operating brand new school buildings filled to just 30% capacity seems like an expensive problem

  1. The state board of education finished up their meeting this week by drafting a resolution proposing to create a working group to review and recommend changes to state report cards. The resolution will be debated at the next meeting in January. Fordham’s hot-off-the-presses report on this very topic is quoted within. If any of you board members need copies, just say the word! (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 12/13/17)
  2. Meanwhile, Ohio’s war on knowin’ stuff opened a new front this week as the state’s Kindergarten readiness assessment came under fire in the Senate Education Committee. I am assuming that the people who want to eliminate this “burdensome” and “time consuming” test are the same ones who want to spend millions on pre-K because it is the answer to all of K-12 education’s woes. But I could be wrong. (Gongwer Ohio, 12/13/17)
  3. Fascinating piece digging deeper into the details of a plan to possibly close several schools in Dayton due to ongoing student population loss and serious underutilization of buildings. There are a lot of interesting bits in here—and more to come, I’m sure—but I will leave you with just this one stat: “Associate Superintendent Shelia Burton said based on staffing, utilities, maintenance and expenses, the cost to operate an under-enrolled building can reach as high as $14,000 per student, while fuller schools cost as little as $6,000 per student.” Stark. And probably with a much wider implication for the school funding discussion statewide. (Dayton Daily News, 12/13/17)
  4. So one of the factors to which Dayton City Schools is attributing its ongoing student population slide is of course school choice. As all four of my loyal Gadfly Bites subscribers know, I am all about school choice, and here are two stories about other folks in Ohio all in on choice. First up, a group of citizens in Defiance this week met to learn about possible changes (dare I say “improvements”) proposed for the state’s voucher programs in HB 200. Hopefully they came away energized and supportive. (Crescent-News, Defiance, 12/14/17) Secondly, here is yet another love letter to the Life Skills High School in Elyria, whose family-oriented mission is to help students recover credits and get back on track to graduate. As with all the recent love letters to Life Skills, no mention is made of it being a charter school. Which is a good thing, because the choice is the program and the promise, not the school governance structure. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 12/14/17)
  5. Sticking with our theme of “not the status quo”, a large enough number of parents in Canton are enthusiastic about the implementation of year round schooling there to allow the district to move forward. Planning will continue for the rest of this year and the Accelerating Innovative Minds (AIM) Academy will most likely launch next school year. Cool! (Canton Repository, 12/13/17)
  6. Finally today, here’s a great story about an in-school credit union run by and for students in the Toledo suburb of Oregon. Kids get financial literacy education from both sides of the teller desk. I hope you have high interest in this cool story. Get it? “High interest”?! Anyone? It’s a financial reference! No? OK. (Toledo Blade, 12/13/17)
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,