The school tax dollar

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:17

    To the editor: I am delighted to hear from Rep. Michael R. Veon (in Pike County Courier 08/18/06) that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is beginning to take its responsibility for a “thorough and efficient” oversight of the public education program seriously, and has allocated $650,000 (equivalent to the average annual cost of educating 72 students) to ascertain how the annual budget of $17 billion is spent by the state’s 501 school districts (based on the figure for 2004-2005) - I make that an average of $8,947 for, say, 1.9 million students in Pennsylvania. I am still trying to find out how much the Delaware Valley School District “costs” the tax payer (or, more positively, “spends”on the education of each student). It should equate about $11.7 million if the Commonwealth average is applied (1,312 students x $8,947), but at least the money spent by the district seems to show some results in that the levels of proficiency in reading and mathematics are above the State’s averages. One should assume that the long-overdue study of the costs of the public education system will also address such issues as the costs of providing education facilities, teachers’ pay, teaching hours - to mention but a few pertinent elements, and not shy away from including serious cost-cutting proposals, such as extending teaching hours and/or reducing vacation times so as to bring remuneration issues more in line with other professions. Whilst every taxpayer will be pleased to hear of any attempts to engage in cost-cutting reviews, it must be clear that this cannot be brought about to the detriment of the students. But at the same time, one has to wonder whether the presence of eight principals in the Delaware Valley School District is a necessity, whether the addition of one or two teaching hours per week would represent an unacceptable burden or other measures could be taken (such as not wasting money on land purchases) that effectively reduce costs, bring about a better value-for-money relationship, and overall assist in improving education results, which - even though better that Commonwealth averages - are scary when bearing in mind that 20% (or 1 in 5) of 1,312 students in the Delaware Valley School District have only basic or below-basic reading skills, and 33% (or 1 in 3) of 1,313 students have basic or below-basic skills in mathematics. Does this explain why nobody seems to be able to work out how much change is due when you shop? Jurgen W Schulze Milford