My answers to questions posed on mLive are below:
- How many SOC students does it take to make WLPS buildings stay open? Moving from WLPS foundation allowance to AAPS’ foundation allowance creates $1.7M in recurring annual revenue and likely $2.7M once the HB is passed that would yield $150 in an increase for AAPS due to annexation. That does not include any new students from WLPS, but provides significant revenue to invest in new programs. Our next focus would be in attracting back the 25% of WLPS students that left WLPS over the past 5 years. That would yield even more incremental revenue to invest in students and programs there. We would keep class sizes within our target range, so hiring new teachers would be part of growth and new programs. There has been no assumption or calculations of additional SOC students, even though the possibility of attracting them has been mentioned in information sessions.
- Teacher evaluation and how can we get rid of poor teachers: We are already doing much here, using the Charlotte Danielson evaluation model. The state has asked to use our model as the consider re-crafting the teacher evaluation legislation. Factors that should be part of the model include student achievement, parent and student input, principal evaluation and perhaps a peer component. Current law already allows us to remove ineffective teachers after they have had two consecutive years of an ineffective rating on their annual performance review.
- Growth: what is good for AAPS students vs. not good? First, in a financial environment where expenses exceed revenue from the state, growth is essential in achieving maximum use of capacity. Growth allows for investment in programs and students; not growing means that we can only cut programs as we address that gap between revenue and expenses. That is NOT good for AAPS students. Once we reach capacity, we need to consider options for further growth in building capacity. That will need to be a community discussion and approval process.
- Inclined to sell wooded areas to achieve future cuts? I am not inclined at this moment. If the city will guarantee that the land will be maintained as natural space, then possibly. I think this discussion warrants more community engagement.
- Later high school start time? We are putting this on our agenda now. We will be exploring this again. Cost effective transportation has been a major consideration in the past; however, we have moved more high school transportation to AAATA. We want to make sure our kids can get to school as well, so we will be exploring the possibility and the potential impact.
- 1/2 day KG? Know that the state will decrease our foundation allowance by 50% for any child in a 1/2 day program. When we explored continuing to offer this 2 years ago, it would cost us $3.5M to keep all students in 1/2 day KG. Moving to full day cost $1.5M to hire the 19 new teachers we needed. Flexibility is great, but our state makes it financially difficult to offer flexibility in that regard. Further, I do believe most of our families wanted all day KG. During that transition, we received a lot of positive feedback.
- Testing? Testing is an important way of understanding how our children are doing, as well as a means to provide differentiated instruction, which is part of our strategic plan. Being able to show progress over the year is also important. The standardized test can be important in helping parents gauge where their student is relative to other states and countries, which is who they will be competing for in college entry and for jobs. Federal funding also is tied to standardized testing. For example, if we decided to not issue the MEAP, we would lose all funds associated with federal grants. That’s a pretty big $$ in AAPS (~$40M). I would love to see changes to the MEAP and reduction of testing, but it is unlikely that the MEAP is going to change to meet all of the needs we have for it – one being showing growth over the academic year, which inherently means testing more than once that year