At a community meeting conducted by the four principals of Delta schools, parents and teachers rallied around a message to be delivered to the school board this Thursday. The message: We want the money to follow the kids.
About 100 people attended the March 12 meeting facilitated by principals Kurt Clay, Delta High School; Derek Carlson, Delta Middle School; Doug Egging, Lincoln Elementary School; and Jim Farmer, Garnet Mesa Elementary School.
At the heart of their presentation was the inequity in funding as illustrated by per-pupil funding and staffing levels in Delta schools.
For example, when teacher salaries and benefits are totaled for Delta County, then divided by the number of students in traditional schools, the average cost per pupil is $4,255. But in Delta, funding for the elementary schools is falling short, with Garnet Mesa receiving $3,123 per student and Lincoln Elementary getting $3,362 per student. Delta Middle School comes in close to the district average at $4,261, while Delta High School is higher at $4,723. The four principals recognized that it takes more money to run a high school because of the number of extracurricular activities, but Clay said he understands the need to reduce the per-pupil level at DHS, particularly since enrollment is expected to drop next year.
The principals then demonstrated how the per-pupil funding correlates to class sizes, with Lincoln Elementary, Garnet Mesa Elementary and Cedaredge Middle School all coming in above the district average of 18 students for every teacher. At Garnet Mesa Elementary, the smallest kindergarten class has 25 kids.
"The salaries are one piece, but the reason we feel this information is important is because of increasing class sizes and the resources available for ELL and free and reduced kids," Farmer said.
"Your kids are in great hands, but we would like to support our kids better."
It was pointed out that more than half of the district's students attend school in Delta, and a large proportion of them require additional services, including English language instruction and special services.
Those attending the community meeting agreed the number one priority should reducing the student-teacher ratio, particularly in the elementary schools, and that's the message that will be delivered at Thursday's school board meeting. Also of importance is developing and implementing a per-pupil ratio for funding at three levels — elementary, middle and high school — that will put all the district's schools on an even footing.
The discussion then turned to possible solutions. While the principals suggested a three- to five-year plan to resolve the inequity issue, parents were not willing to be that patient. In five years, they agreed, the critically formative years for their elementary kids will have passed. They want the presentation to the school board to stress the importance of implementing changes for the 2012-13 school year.blog comments powered by Disqus