Friday, September 02, 2011

Both school tax bills arrived today. Seems to me to be bad timing. It's interesting to compare the two districts. Both are (too) expensive, but Onteora is much more costly than Schodack, even before STAR is factored into the Schodack charges. The most recent year of fiscal data available is two years old: 2008-09. Achievement data are from 2009-10. Enrollments do not match in the two reports, which makes me suspicious about the integrity of the data generally. One wonders why SED does not question this. Or have they left all the analysts positions unfilled after early retirement and other attrition?

One difference between the two districts is size. The Fiscal Accountability report says enrollment was 1,275 at Schodack and 2,065 at Onteora in '08-'09. The "plain" Accountability report says it was 1,093 in '08-'09 (and 1,078 in '09-'10) at Schodack and 1,738 in '08-'09 (and 1,658 in '09-'10) at OCS. Regardless, the trend in both districts is decreasing enrollment.

Both are average need to resource districts. Schodack's graduation rate in '09-'10 was 93 percent; Onteora's was 91 percent. There are not a lot of striking differences, but there are two: per student costs and proportion classified as special education. Schodack's cost per student in '08-'09 was $18,737. Onteora's was $27,797. Both districts come in higher than other average needs to resource districts ($17,709); Schodack is less than all districts in NYS, but Onteora is higher ($19,381). Schodack's special education classification rate is 13.72 percent, and Onteora's is a startling 17.49 percent; both districts are higher than other average needs to resource districts (12.3) and also higher than all districts in NYS (13.2).

I do not believe that there are more special needs kids in my alma mater than in other districts, nor do I believe the district outshines all others in delivering services. That statistic combined with decreasing demographics are what is driving the astronomical per student costs. The classification policy should be investigated.

Switching gears, here is an interesting picture of the stairwell and emergency exit in Bob's building in Troy taken Monday:

I've been trying to fight off is kind of expected, this time of year. September is often a challenge. It isn't because I hate my birthday, or even getting older generally. It's that bad things seem to overshadow my routine more for me in this month, or maybe it is just that I am on alert and notice it more. There were happy things -- Mimmie's birthday, Aunt Jean's birthday, Rudy's birthday, that turned into bittersweet memories once they were gone. Then, there are sad anniversaries...Don's death, Rudy's death, Howie's death, 9/11. Summer starts to wane, school starts up, the page turns, I get a year older. Irene is the icing on the cake this year, I guess.

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