There were some lessons learned Tuesday night at the meeting of the Noyac Civic Council, we think, about how and why the cost of educating our students continues to soar. It seems stunning or preposterous to anyone born, say 40 or 50 years ago – or more ? that it could cost upwards of $25,000 per year to teach a kid.
The truth of the matter is that it really doesn’t cost that much – not to teach them ? since there are non-educational expenses such as transportation mixed in with the budget. But it’s fair to say the cost of education is not cheap, and, considering state and federal mandates, there are expenses some of us may never have expected decades ago.
For those who choose to measure the local schools by the cost per pupil, there are two things schools superintendent Dr. John Gratto made clear Tuesday night.
One is that we are affected by the economies of scale. We are a relatively small district that has agreed relatively small class sizes are desirable. There are built in expenses and mandated programs, the burden of which is divided by an ever fewer number of students.
The other is that, as a community, we decided that we want what Dr. Gratto called “rich programs.” Not that they are for rich people, but they are programs rich with value and educational opportunities. We think here in particular of some of the arts programs where students get to work with men and women who make their livings in the field.
Confronted with these two realities, though, there is an undeniable need for the staff and administration to be as conservative as possible in areas that don’t affect programs. We think the administration has taken steps in the right direction to find economies such as relying less on contract bussing and reducing staff through attrition. We hope other cost savings can be made, and, as contract negotiations continue, we are optimistic an arrangement fair to the community can be achieved.