GA thinks HoLa's families are terrific; it's Board, not so much. Some HoLa Trustees might even be evil. One in particular. Whose name rhymes with Petrosino.
GA's decided not to give that nefarious nitwit and his new online defecation the attention he craves.
Instead, for my own edification (and yours) I will investigate an oft-repeated comment that sounds (to my ears) like this:
"HoLa is Numero Uno and we do it for half-price!"
While GA disputes the above comment, I am more interested in the "half-price" part, or as the commenter put it: " it does all this at less than half the cost of traditional Hoboken Public Schools!"
Which is true, by the way.
But why? Where are does (the District) spend MORE, where do they (HoLa) spend LESS?
The truth is very hard to get at when HoLa won't post its budgets nor its spending online. The District does.
Sure, one can file an OPRA request. But isn't there a publicly available apples-to-apples comparison of costs/spending between the Hoboken district and HoLa?
It's called the "Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending " and its on the NJ Department of Education website. In fact, there is a "taxpayer's guide" for every district, public and charter, in New Jersey.
So, using the "Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending " GA was able to compare, quite easily, cost line items for both districts. The most "taxpayer's guide" for "actual" (not proposed) data is 2012-2013. So, here were the actual per-pupil costs:
2012-13 Actual Costs Amount per Pupil: $22,832 (district)Why the cost disparity between the 2 districts?
2012-13 Actual Costs Amount per Pupil: $10,955 (HoLa)
The answer is in the data.
While there were categories of 'smaller' disparity, such as "extracurricular cost per-pupil" (District: $653, HoLa: 0), the bulk of the per-pupil cost disparity appeared to come from three areas:
- % of "classified" students,
- support services and
- instructional costs.
Simply put, District Schools shoulder a disproportionate number and degree of "classified" students and provide many more supplemental ("support") services. HoLa's "Instructional costs" are much lower, but a major factor appears to be under-paying their teachers.
Teacher Salary (2012-13): $77,522 (Public)
Teacher Salary (2012-13): $25,000 (HoLa*)
*Note, in 2013 the state Board of Education ruled that Charters can hire 'second career' teachers (they require no license, degree or experience in education) and train them on the job; they simply need to file for a charter license.Interestingly, HoLa administrators made almost 4x a teacher's median salary in 2012-2013.
Administrator Salary : $129,196 (Public)
Administrator Salary : $96,454 (HoLa)
The details are below... and you know that's where the devil hides.
Cost comparison: Hoboken District and HoLa
1) "Classified" Students:
10/15/12 % of Classified Students to Total Students: 10.6%
10/15/12 % of Classified Students to Total Students: 1.4%
"Classified" students cover the gamut from the mainstreamed (placed in mainstream classrooms), to self-contained classes, to severely disabled and/or requiring to be sent out-of-district. Hoboken district is responsible for all costs associated with educating classified students. In 2013, NJDOE special education data reports that the Hoboken district had 260 "classified" students. A breakdown by placement done by NJDOE Office of Special Education Programs shows that 204 students required placement out of mainstream classrooms. it also shows that
the districts are not "sharing" equal proportions of the most challenged and costly to educate classified students. Of all the publicly-funded districts, the district that "shared" the least percentage of classified students was HoLa.
The impact on the District's per-pupil costs of educated this spectrum of classified students cannot be understated. The Hoboken district cannot say "No."
2) Total Support Services
Per Pupil Amount (2012-13 actual costs): $5,078 (District)
Per Pupil Amount (2012-13 actual costs): $0 (HoLa)
"Support services" as defined by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) are services supplemental to the teaching process that are designed to assess and improve students' well-being. They include:
- Attendance, social work, health and guidance services, educational media/school library services
- Child study team services.
- Costs associated with physical and mental health services that are not direct instruction, but are nevertheless provided to students, such as supervision of health services, health appraisal (including screening for vision, communicable diseases, and hearing deficiencies), screening for psychiatric services, periodic health examinations, emergency injury and illness care, dental services, nursing services and communications with parents and medical officials.
- Guidance office expenditures for counseling, record maintenance, and placement services.
- Costs for the child study team include salaries and benefits for members related to the development and evaluation of student individualized education programs (IEPs).
3)Total Instructional Costs
Per Pupil Amount (2012-13 actual costs): $11,478
Per Pupil Amount (2012-13 actual costs): $6,291* *HoLa pays teachers 1/3 District salaries
This indicator includes all expenditures associated with direct classroom instruction for both regular and special education pupils educated within the district. It includes
- salaries and allocated benefits of teachers, substitutes and teachers' aides (other than secretarial and clerical) as well as the additional compensation paid to teachers for services such as hall monitors, detention, and lunchroom aides.
- Supplies such as calculators, microscopes, textbooks, tablets, laptops, workbooks, tests, markers, paper, pencils, paints, and other classroom supplies are included.
- Filmstrips, periodicals, videos, CDs, and other reference items for specific regular classroom use are also included.
- Purchased professional-educational, technical and other services purchased for classroom use, such as amounts paid for occupational, speech, and physical therapy, assembly speakers, and standardized subject exams.
- Cost of the rental or lease purchase of equipment for classroom use is included in this indicator as well.