I’m writing in response to a couple of recent letters about school choice and funding.
In the March 8 newspaper, John Pack took issue with per-pupil program costs of $6,212 reported by the Douglas County School Board and the State of Colorado. The amount is shared in the FY 2011-2012 district financial planning and budget document. By law, the amount represents 86 percent of the district’s General Fund, which covers staff, supplies, equipment, utilities, educational support and administrative activities. If you include the 14 percent, the allocation per pupil is only $7,213 — still among the lowest in the nation.
In his letter, John stated a much higher per-pupil program cost, derived by including funds which operate outside of the general operation of the district. Many are self-funded — such as the Nutrition Services Fund and the Child Care Fund — through on-site revenues or fees. All are vehicles for specific recording purposes. Including them in a per-pupil program calculation inflates costs artificially.
In the March 1 paper, Terry Beh also took issue with the reported per-pupil cost and other topics. I agree our school board has been “open” as board members’ positions on vouchers were well known ahead of the elections. For an example of “teacher bashing,” here’s a quote from Dick Morris at the National School Choice Week event in Castle Rock: “There’s nothing wrong in the U.S. educational system that breaking the power of unions wouldn’t solve.” (Insert applause here). Finally, the list of conservative organizations behind the event deserves to see the light of day.
Apparently, in spite of demonstrable success locally, some people have come to the conclusion that the public sector and excellence are not compatible. Instead, excellence belongs to the private sector and should be funded with public dollars.
But Douglas County doesn’t fit the narrative. In spite of limited funds reaching classrooms, our local schools are not failing. Rather, they are exemplary and among the best in the state and nation. Our students perform well and community surveys have revealed positive views about our schools. Kudos to DC teachers and staff!