Saturday, March 05, 2005

School funding......

I've already gained therapy from having this blog, discussing frustrations with other teachers about various issues.

Here is an article written for the local paper by our principal. Unlike most of what I hear, this guy has been one of the best things ever to happen to me. The man has been terrific with beginning teacher support, positive instruction and thoughtful criticism. He's retireing this year and will be sorely missed.

Principal speaks on school funding;

By PHIL GARY/Principal, Ukiah High

A few weeks ago I wrote about the funding for schools and received a number of calls and comments from readers. As I talked to the, I began to think about the funding I received the first year I was the principal of Ukiah High School.

In 1987, Ukiah High School received $65 per student for student materials, office equipment, library books and classroom supplies. We also received $50,000 to support the fine arts programs, primarily band travel and instruments and theater production. In addition, the district covered most athletic costs including coaching salaries, transportation, and safety equipment. Athletic Boosters paid for uniforms and awards.

After briefly rising to $75 per student in the early 1990s, the district support for classrooms and offices was reduced again to $65 where it rests today. In addition the $50,000 for the fine arts programs has become zero and the district picks up only part of the costs for athletic coaching and transportation. To make matters worse, the coaching salaries have been reduced over the past 18 years by approximately 33%.

The Consumer Price Index conversion tables show that it would take $1.64 today to purchase what one-dollar would purchase in 1987. To have exactly the same purchasing power, the $65 allocation in 1987 would be $106.60 today. Since it has remained at the $65 level, its purchasing power is the equivalent of $40 in 1987.

When I looked up the changes in teachers' salaries since 1987, I found that a teacher with 15 years experience who remained in Ukiah had a salary increase of 59 percent during that time. When compared to the Consumer Price Index, his purchasing power today is just under what it was in 1987.

To place these numbers in perspective, I looked up the cost of common consumer goods in the past 18 years. In 1987 a loaf of bread cost $.55 and a gallon of milk cost $2.07. Today those items average $2.99 and $3.69, increases of 504 percent and 178 percent. Eggs, $.78 a dozen in 1987, are $2.19 today, a 280% increase. Stamps were $.22 and gasoline was $.95. I did not look at the cost of medical care or drugs, but their increases must far exceed even the rise in bread.

In summary: a salary with slightly less buying power, coaching salaries reduced by 33 percent, a materials and supplies budget with a 40 percent decrease in purchasing power, and no money for fine arts programs. This describes a level of support for education for which every Californian should embarrassed.
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