Competing Plans, Competing Opinions
To be sure, there are many competing opinions about each of the plan proposals, and given the extreme complexity of each proposal, it is very easy to get lost in the weeds. The issues policy makers are trying to balance include lightening transportation costs and student movement while providing access to (and expanding) quality programs.
Transportation Savings Likely Minimal
On the first point, transportation savings are likely to be minimal regardless of which plan is adopted.
There are many plans under consideration, establishing anywhere from 0 to 23 “zones.” The cost savings range from 3.6% of the $80 million budget (less than $3 million) to 26.7% (less than $22 million). Some observers appear to favor a zone model on lower side — either 3, 6, or 9 zones — as opposed to a model on the higher side with either 11 or 23 zones. In essence and in an admittedly simplistic description, the more zones, the less choice and the greater the transportation savings. Similarly, the fewer the zones, the more choice and the less the transportation savings. Whatever the outcome of the issue, these estimated savings, as small as they are, are exaggerated. See a Globe piece here.
Let’s Make All Schools High Quality
On the second point, there is a difference in quality related to exposure to resources in the school system. The district points out (slides 9 and 10) that our Turnaround Schools have made rapid progress as a result of strong leadership, effective teaching, rigorous content, using data effectively, deepening partnerships, engaging families, promoting collaboration and extending time. We agree. What the district fails to mention is that the last item is a cost item that all schools–not just Turnaround–ought to be afforded. The rest of the items are no-cost items and ought to be firmly entrenched in the DNA of each school. The district, through state and federal grants, has successfully spent funds and added resources to Turnaround Schools. It’s high time that the district found ways to provide the same resources to all of our schools.