An update on ConVal figures

To the editor:

Between the impacts of Obamacare and Syria, how can I possibly compete for a moment of your time to read this update on ConVal enrollment figures for 2013-2014.

A quick overview: The total ConVal enrollment for 2013-2014 is 2,338 while enrollment in 2006-7 was 3,104. This is now a drop of 768 students. It’s interesting that high school enrollment was 1,087 in 06-07 and now it’s 875, or a drop of 212 or 20 percent. Contrast that with elementary schools. In 2006-2007, enrollment was 984 and now it’s 787, a drop of 197 or 20 percent.

While this is going on, population keeps increasing and the percentage of students versus population keeps dropping. Meanwhile staffing numbers remain frozen and gross cost per student keeps escalating. It appears that if we stabilize the drop in enrollment, we could see a drop in gross cost per student, finally.

Unless and until we restructure the entire district we will be saddled with mind goggling costs. I believe the only way to correct the situation and drop costs $3 to 4 million will be to raise student-teacher ratios and eliminate classrooms with only three to eight students.

No question, if we operate classroom size as we did 10 to 20 years ago and see a major reduction in paraprofessionals, we would begin to see change.

Closing three to four schools is not the answer. It could well be we should use the Keene configuration of one central school and tuition in all small elementaries. Effectively we would give all small towns free ownership of their schools and they would pick and chose their class sizes. Their middle schools and high school students would come to the central high school.

One thing is for sure. Unless we make quantum changes soon, the number of empty factories and vacant homes will continue to increase and small and large families will leave the district.

Fran Chapman


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