Thursday, September 3, 2015

New District "City High Preview" Displays How Efficient Hoover Is!

Thursday afternoon, a mere five days before the upcoming school board election, the Iowa City Community School District put out a "City High Preview" (click here). 

Methinks something smells foul--it is the timing? Maybe, but it is also the figures themselves.

Compared to a "300-person school," Hoover must be extremely efficient. Hoover's actual costs from 2013-2014 (not including special education, since that's not included in the figures in the City High Preview, and its categorical anyway and not from the general fund) were over $600K less than the 300-student school in administration's comparison. That is to say, Hoover's actual costs in 2013-2014 were $1,509,000, which was $611,012.19 less than the 300-student school. Whereas, the purported savings by having a 500-student school compared to a 300-student school was a a mere $861K (the total amount of the hypothetical 500-student school minus the total amount of the hypothetical 300-student school divided by 300 and multiplied by 500). That amounts to about a $100K savings for KEEPING HOOVER OPEN. How so? The 500-student school had a total cost of $2,672,162.31, divide that by 500 to get the per student amount, then multiply that by 300 to get $1,603,297. In 2013-2014, Hoover had 332 students and it only cost the district $1,509,000. So, that's a savings of almost $100K by keeping Hoover open.

See for yourself!

And for further irony, the 2013-2014 data may be a little higher than it was last year, since Hoover's guidance counselor went from being 0.8 time to 0.6 time (the salary of the person last year, who wasn't fulltime at Hoover was approximately $57K, so multiply that by 0.6, and compare it to $82K from the 300-student school).

Look, a case can reasonably be made that Hoover should close. But this is pretty far from it.


  1. Some of the district's smaller elementary schools have had 1/2 time principals, not full time principals. Even if they look on paper like they are full time, they may have had extra duties assigned so they were effectively 1/2 time principals (the district did announce some of these positions as 1/2 time over the years).

    For example, when Mike O'Leary was announced as the new principal at Hills in 2011, it was announced that the Hills principal position would continue 1/2 time.

    1. Yes, Mary. I think you are correct. My guess is that the administration is presenting "ideal" staffing figures rather than actual staffing figures. Ideally, we would have fulltime counselors (and principals) at each school regardless of size. That ideal, however, is not a reality and it won't be anytime in the near future. So, it is highly misleading to use it as a partial justification for closing Hoover or any other school.

      That being said, I suspect that we could save several hundred thousand dollars from operational costs by closing Hoover. I'm not sure what the exact figure is, however, and I also know that larger schools often get additional support staff (a Vice Principal or a School Admin Manager) and have increased busing, which tend to cut against the savings.

      It is complicated to determine, but I'm not happy with the work the administration did here, or the work of certain board members to promote this reasoning when it is so clearly flawed and they were directly informed about its deep flaws.

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