Friday, October 27, 2006

Enrollment Declines and Financial Chaos

Marguerite Roza, from the Center on Reinventing Public Education at UW, and a member of the CACIEE, wrote an interesting piece recently for Education Week called Must Enrollment Declines Spell Financial Chaos for Districts?

She writes, "The crux of the problem is that while some revenue streams are dependent on student counts, expenditures are not...The idea proposed here is that a much larger share of district resources be allocated on the basis of enrollments, not only to schools, but also to departments, services, operations, administration, or other district functions."

The following excerpt seems quite relevant for Seattle schools:

"Budgeting per pupil might seem harsh when enrollment is declining, since schools can end up with fewer dollars than they had the previous year. But this approach, when coupled with a choice system, also puts decisions about how to handle declining revenues and whether or not to close or merge schools in the hands of the parents and the schools, not district staff members who have little stake in the matter. For schools, declining resources signal an early wake-up call to redesign (possibly as an intentional small school), or, where viable, recruit more students. Schools get closed when parents begin to opt out for other schools with higher enrollments. "

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, yes, that's what the idea has been all along. (One of the very few points I agreed with Olchefske about, namely, parents vote with their feet. Charlie has made this point repeatedly. If some schools have programs that parents that are overenrolled with waiting lists that parents will send their kids far from home to get into, duplicate them in schools that are not attractive.)

Some schools would have received this "wake-up call" much sooner had district foundation funds not artifically propped them up. We are closing schools because we need to, because it makes no sense leaving open schools that are in decline.

We are in free-fall right now (and I think there are some who are gleeful about it) but it doesn't have to be this way. We have let some bullies dictate the last couple of Board meetings. I was unable to attend but plan on attending in the future. I'm not going to stand by and let the media and some bullies try to degrade and hijack our district. Not going to happen.