Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Data shows schools need to cut costs, not hike taxes
Charles Fisher had this letter published in the March 4, 2015 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. It also appeared in the March 11 Quad City Times. (..... marks paragraph breaks.) "Rock Island County schools have again placed a sales tax increase before the voters for the April 7 election. Voters should reject this increase after reviewing the financials below. ...... In Iowa, average 2013 teacher salary is $33,226. The Illinois average is $37,166, which is above the national average of $36,141. Illinois teachers are (more than) fairly compensated. ...... The Federal Education Budget Project lists the Davenport Community School District budget for 2012 (which likely includes local option tax funds) as $174 million, which served 16,995 students for a per-student cost of $10,262. ..... The Rock Island District 41 budget for the same period was $76.568 million and served 6,622 students, for a per-student cost of $11,562. ...... The Moline District 40 budget for the same period was $78,817 and served 7,429 students, for a per student cost of $10,609 per student. ...... Davenport's academic performance is solidly ahead of Rock Island County. Davenport scores 70 percent and 66 percent proficient in the 2011 No Child Left Behind reading and math tests, while Moline respectively scores 46.9 percent and 53.8 percent. Rock Island trails the pack at 30.1 percent and 25.9 percent. Davenport achieves dominance while spending $347 less than Moline, and $1,300 less per student than Rock Island. ..... Rock Island County schools should not ask for larger budgets, but instead trim costs and increase performance to match our nearby peers. ...... If county schools can not meet these standards, then perhaps we should consider outsourcing the maintenance of Rock Island County schools to the Davenport Community School District, which appears both more capable and thrifty by all measures. ..... Illinois students deserve better."