Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Shawnee Mission School District to Close Schools: KCMO School District Sets Example

Nobody wants to see their local school close. Parents like the idea of the convenience of a close elementary school, and homeowners like the value a school adds to their property values (though costing them in taxes). It doesn’t matter what the make-up of the school district is, whether it is urban or suburban, school closing are guaranteed to stir people up. The prevailing attitude that comes out is that teachers think that it will crush the children’s education by forcing the students into larger classrooms. And parents buy into that same hype. But reality is something quite different. By the time decisions are finally made to close schools, the enrollment is usually around half of what the enrollment was at the districts peak. For example, Kansas City MO’s school district had the courage to close half of its schools to save money. They closed half of their schools because they have less than half the students they used to have. Parents cried and screamed, the teacher’s union issued warnings of declining scores (I don’t know if you can get much lower than they already are), but in the end, the schools were closed and we will now await the outcome in the years to come. Now cross the state to the once nationally haled and envied school district, the Shawnee Mission School District. With enrollment at slightly above half the enrollment it saw in 1971, the district is now looking at closing only 5 schools. The usual tactics are at work with people coming up with all kinds of causes and excuses for why and how this could happen. If the opponents of school closings in these school districts were to utilize the simple math the KCMO district tries to teach and the Shawnee Mission school district masters, then they would realize that their main argument, children forced into larger classrooms resulting in poorer education, is flawed. It can be broken down this way.
If schools are build based on peak enrollment, but that enrollment is now half of that enrollment, then there are too many schools. For example, if enrollment is 1000 students at the peak, and so a total of 10 schools exist, allowing for 100 kids per school, then when enrollment shrinks to 500, there is only a need for 5 schools to keep the same peak school to student ratio. Additionally, if a lower number of students to school ratio equals higher grades, why is this not true for kcmo. The answer is simple, close the schools. Save money on infrastructure and too much staff and maybe you can give the teachers you need that raise we hear about all the time.

3 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

Word has that kids who graduated from Shawnee Mission Schools were not taught to read or write in the 80s. I offer this post as proof. :)

jrchaard said...

fortunately I graduated in the 90's, after they figured out what they were doing wrong.

Kansas Bob said...

Nice try.