Pinehurst Fights Back

Parents do the work to defend their schools and Pinehurst is challenging the per student figure for Pinehurst students versus other students.

As usual, parents step up with extensive research.  Pinehurst is no exception and here is a letter to Superintendent Banda asking for an explanation of the costs announced to the Board per student at Pinehurst versus other K-8s.

The claim in the Superintendent’s Final Recommendation for the 2012-2013 cost per student are also not supported by the budget and enrollment figures. The 2012-2013 budget for Pinehurst, which is also attached, is very similar to the 2013-2014 budget.

                        2012-2013 Budget
                        Total Budgeted                                   $1,476,228
                        Less Grants (LEP)                                $-    23,822
                        Less Special Ed                                    $-  461,033
                        Gen Ed Budget                                    $   991,373

Enrollment in 2012-13 was 148, as documented in the Superintendent’s Preliminary Recommendation (page 2). Dividing the 2012-2013 Gen Ed budget by 148 studentsresults in a per-student cost of $6,698, again significantly below the figure cited in the Superintendent’s Final Recommendation. Had the cost per student in fact been $8,150, then Pinehurst would have been $214,827 over its 2012-2013 budget, a situation that did not occur and would not have been permitted by district policy.

Where then did the district come up with the  $8,145 per-student cost? The July 19th 2013 proposed budget includes a projected enrollment number of 125, which, when applied to the $1,018,078 budget, comes out to a per-student cost $8,144.62. This, according to the Superintendents recommendation, was approximately $3000 more than other K-8 programs. Thus the per-student cost for Pinehurst was calculated on the basis of an enrollment projection that was significantly lower than the actual enrollment of the school.

It would is egregious enough that the Superintendent’s Recommendation uses inaccurate information to calculate an inflated cost per student. But it then goes on to compound this error by multiplying the alleged excess cost-per student times 150 to determine the excess cost of the program. In other words, it uses 125 students to derive an inflated excess cost per student, but them multiplies this excess cost by 150, further inflating the program cost. To accurately calculate the cost, one needs to use the same enrollment number for both calculations.

                        $1,018,078                  / 125 students             =          $8,145 / student , approximately $3,000 more than the average K-8
                        $3000/student             X 125 students             =          $375,000

Using the districts methodology results in overstatement of the program cost by 75,000, over the already overstated cost per student based on the lower enrollment number.

As stated above, an accurate cost per student for Pinehurst K-8, based in the official SDS 2013-2014 is $6,526. This is below the per-student cost of Madrona K-8 and comparable to the average per-student cost of all option schools. The Superintendent’s recommendations overstate Pinehurst’s staffing costs by $258,744, and overstates the per-student cost by $1,889. This is at the very least a significant failure in due diligence and could be construed a material misrepresentation to the board.

I request the public disclosure of the methodology used to determine the cost per student and excess staffing cost for the program, and an explanation for the discrepancy between these figures and the actual budget. I would also urge a thorough review of the calculations used in ppthe Superintendents recommendation’s to insure that inaccurate information is not being provided to the board.

Since these highly inflated and inaccurate cost figures have been used to justify closure of the school, I would also urge the Superintendent to reconsider the recommendation to close the school.

John Chapman
PinehurstK-8 Parent


mirmac1 said…
Great work, Pinehust families! It is totally proper to exclude special education funding and costs from these calculations. DeBell/English/Harmon were all too keen on using those figures to their advantage, while at the same time bitchin' and moaning about these "exorbitant" costs. SpEd fundings and cost accounting should be ONLY for the "excess cost" of providing special education students their services. The district is obligated under Federal law to do this. Period, end of story.
Anonymous said…

Glad Pinehurst double checked and raised this point. Want to put my hand to my head that no one else had done so earlier. Geez.

-- signed, math counts
Catherine said…
So many recent math errors in reports released by SSD - this - and the minority reports Melissa reviewed as part of the state of schools report. troubling,
Anonymous said…
Go Pinehurst! Nice work on the math. Looks like the district folks all were schooled using CMP2. Good work and good luck -- I hope you prevail!

Charlie Mas said…
The current word on Pinehurst - let's go back to calling them AS1 - is that they want to join with the Native American program to form a K-12 pathway. It would be an AS1/Indian Heritage thing and they would like it sited at Wilson-Pacific.

Director Peaslee claims that both communities are unanimous in their vision for it.
Ragweed said…
The revised Pinehurst Closure BAR is out, and guess what - it calculates a cost per student of about 6,700, and an "Excess cost" that is about $250,000 less than the original estimate.

But not apology that they can't do math.
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