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«WYOMING EDUCATION FINANCE Small Schools Report Submitted to Wyoming State Legislature Prepared for MAP by Lawrence O. Picus Gerald C. Hayward John ...»

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Small Schools Report

Submitted to

Wyoming State Legislature

Prepared for MAP by

Lawrence O. Picus

Gerald C. Hayward

John Ehlers

January 31, 2002

2925 Spafford Street, Suite E Davis, CA 95616 ♦ (530) 753-3130 ♦ map@edconsultants.com

Wyoming Small School Adjustment Report

Table of Contents

Small School Adjustment 2 Defining a Small School 2 Development of the Small School Adjustment 3 Very Small Schools 3 Teacher Costs 3 Non-Teacher Costs 5 Appendix A: Methodology 9 Appendix B: Small School Site Visit Form 1 (School ADM by Grade) 11 Appendix C: Small School Site Visit Form 2 (School Enrollment by Self-Contained Class SY 01-02) 12 Appendix D: Small School Site Visit Form 2a (School Enrollment by Departmentalized Class SY 01-02) 14 Appendix E: Small School Site Visit Form 3 (School Staff SY01-02) 16 Appendix F: Small School Site Visit Form 4 18 Appendix G: Small Schools Survey Letter 22 Appendix H: Small School Survey Form A (School Enrollment by Self-Contained Class SY 01-02) 23 Appendix I: Small School Survey Form B (School Enrollment by Departmentalized Class SY 01-02) 26 Management Analysis & Planning, Inc. 1 Wyoming Small School Adjustment Report Small School Adjustment In it’s February 2001 ruling in Campbell v. Wyoming, the Wyoming Supreme Court held that the current adjustment for small schools is not fully cost-based, and the cut-off points for inclusion or exclusion of a school from the adjustment are arbitrary. This paper describes a cost based alternative to the current system for Wyoming. The proposed model recognizes that diseconomies of scale exist at the smallest range of school size. Given the Court’s concern about a cut off point in defining small schools, we have proposed that all schools with enrollments lower than the three funding prototypes receive an adjustment, with the size of the adjustment inversely related to school size (i.e. as school enrollment grows, the per pupil adjustment gets smaller). The proposed model recognizes that there are diseconomies of scale with respect to the cost of compensating personnel including both teachers and all other personnel at the school site, the provision of utilities, and student activities. MAP proposes cost based adjustments to accommodate each of these issues. The result is a set of smooth cost functions that provide variable funding on a per pupil basis above a fixed base for teacher compensation, utility costs, and student activities. Three separate models, one each for elementary, middle and high schools are developed in the pages that follow.

Defining a Small School

There has been considerable debate in Wyoming over the definition of a small school. As pointed out by Smith and Hayward1 the existence of co-located schools has complicated the determination of what constitutes a school for the purposes of the small school adjustment. At the present time, despite the probability that co-located schools do not suffer from the same diseconomies as do schools that are truly free-standing schools, the state’s current formula provides an adjustment for small schools regardless of co-location. In this analysis, we assume any school identified as having an enrollment that qualifies for the adjustment will receive that adjustment. This, of course, inflates the true cost of small schools, by over-funding some that do not actually experience diseconomies. Therefore, we recommend that the Legislature adopt the

following definition of school:

A school, for funding purposes, is one or more buildings that contain one or more grades and at least three of the following facilities that are not shared with another school: (1) library, (2) cafeteria, (3) administrative office, (4) heating and ventilation system. School districts may not reduce the size or scope of any of these facilities for the purpose of qualifying for a small school adjustment.

Elementary and middle school programs with 30 or fewer ADM and high school programs with 48 or fewer ADM may, with the permission of the State Board of Education, qualify as a school even when they contain fewer than three of the above criteria.

1 Smith, J, and Hayward, G. (2001). Wyoming Education Finance: Implementation Issues. Davis, CA: Management Analysis and Planning, Inc. (Report submitted to the Wyoming Legislature, July 2, 2001.

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If the Legislature agrees with this definition of a small school, the model we have developed will need to be modified to reflect the definition. The effect of this would be to reduce the amount of the adjustment for some co-located schools.

In addition, the Wyoming Supreme Court expressed concern with the cut-off points for ending eligibility for small school funding at 200 students for elementary and middle schools and 400 students for high schools. The literature does not contain enough detail to specifically identify when a school is large enough to no longer experience diseconomies of scale making it impossible to pinpoint such a cut-off with certainty. To resolve this problem, the proposed adjustment for small schools provides a declining per pupil adjustment for all schools smaller than the prototypes currently funded through the block grant funding model.

Development of the Small School Adjustment

The proposed small school adjustment provides schools with enrollments below the prototype number of students with additional funds per pupil for the additional personnel (teacher and non-teacher) costs associated with operation of a small school, along with adjustments for utility costs and student activity funds.

Each adjustment is described below.

Personnel Costs (Teachers) To compensate small schools for the relatively higher per pupil cost of teachers, we first estimated the need for teachers by school enrollment and type of school. Using data on the number of teachers by school,2 we regressed the number of teachers on school enrollment.

Three separate equations were estimated, one each for elementary, middle and high schools. Because of the very strong linear relationship between school size and number of teachers, we were able to conclude that 89 percent or more of the variance in the number of teachers in a school results from the number of students in each school3. Charts 1, 2 and 3 show the linear nature of the relationship between teachers and number of students for elementary, junior high and high schools respectively.

Using these figures, the constant from the regression (which was somewhat under 2 for elementary and junior high schools, and just over 3.3 for high schools) offers an estimate of the minimum number of teachers needed. The coefficient on the enrollment variable indicates the fraction of an additional teacher needed as enrollment increases by one student. For elementary schools of 263, this results in 18.5 teachers and a pupil/teacher ratio of 14.43. At the lowest enrollment level of 31, the resultant elementary pupil/teacher ratio is 8.7. At the junior high level, this resulted in a pupil teacher ratio of 9.0 at an enrollment of 31 and of 13.94 at an 2 These data were provided by the Small School Coalition and confirmed via our individual site visits and survey of small schools.

3 The R-square, which in our equations measures the amount of variance in FTE teachers described by district ADM, was 0.89 or higher in all three equations.

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enrollment of 299. For the high school, the resultant pupil-teacher ratio at 49 students is 7.8 and at 599 students it is 15.1. Based on our field visits and the responses to our survey, these staffing levels are adequate to deliver the basket.

Before computing the number of teachers a small school would be entitled to receive, we needed to adjust the estimated line so it would better match the established prototypes. If we did not make this adjustment, an elementary school with 263 students would qualify for 18.5 teachers as described in the preceding paragraph, and a school with 264 would only qualify for

17.5 teachers as determined by the prototype. To resolve this problem we developed an adjustment factor that converted the number of teacher generated at 263 students to 17.5 and used that factor to reduce the number of teachers at each enrollment level below that number. We made similar adjustments for middle and high schools using the appropriate prototype enrollment levels and pupil teacher ratios.4 In small enrollment population centers (typically characterized by small schools in a small district), it is often difficult for districts to employ teachers in small fractions of teaching positions. Moreover, there is relatively little ability to change the number of teachers rapidly in response to shifts in school enrollments. Therefore rather than create a step function that added one additional teaching position at certain enrollment levels, we created a smooth estimate of the costs of teachers at any given school size below the prototype. This is computed by taking the predicted number of FTE teachers (including fractions of teachers) multiplying by the teacher compensation for the beginning teacher of $37,325 (salary and benefits computed by MAP) and dividing the result by the number of students.

This figure represents the teacher compensation portion of the funding to be provided for schools with fewer students than the prototype models. The prototypes include funding for nonteaching personnel (including school site administrators), supplies and materials, central office administration, and most other functions required to operate a school district. Moreover, as described above, for small districts, the proposed changes to the small district adjustment provide adequate funding to compensate for any diseconomies of scale in this area at the small schools located in small districts.

To estimate the per pupil allocation for a school smaller than the prototype, we took the 1996-97 per pupil prototype funding value for the type of school and subtracted from it the portion devoted to teacher compensation when it was computed. That result was inflated based on the WCLI (as required by the Supreme Court). We then added that result to the teacher costs we computed for the school with that enrollment. This provides a total per pupil funding figure that would be generated by all students in a school of the given size. Differences in the cost of administration are accommodated through the inclusion of such costs in the original prototype.

Since this figure was increased by the external cost adjustment, adequate funds for administration should be available at each school site.5 4 The effect of this adjustment was to rotate the line fitted to a plot of FTE v. ADM downward.

5 Recall that in addition, in another place in the model, each district will receive an adjustment based on the experience and responsibility level of each administrator.

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Personnel Costs (Non-Teacher Costs) Effectively the small school adjustment for teacher salaries would be the difference between this figure and the cost adjusted prototype funding level. However, it also makes sense that small schools have higher than average costs for other personnel as well. To add those costs to the adjustment, we computed the percentage of total personnel compensation costs for each prototype devoted to non-teaching positions for each of the three prototypes, and for the very small school prototypes developed for elementary and high schools in the previous model.

For elementary and middle schools with 30 or fewer students and high schools with 48 or fewer students we applied the percentage of personnel costs from the very small prototypes to teacher salaries to estimate non-teacher costs. Between 30 (or 48) students and the appropriate prototype, we used a linear factor to adjust the percentage of non-teacher personnel costs as ADM changed. This factor was applied at each identified small school to estimate non-teacher personnel costs.

Non-Personnel Costs In addition to making an adjustment for teacher costs, the model provides an additional funding adjustment for utilities and student activities.

Utilities and Student Activities: To create a cost based adjustment for utilities and student activities, we estimated three regressions for each of the two expenditure functions – one each for elementary, middle and high schools. The regression estimated expenditures in each area as a function of ADM. Then, using the same approach as described above, we used the constant that was derived from the regressions plus the coefficient times the school enrollment to estimate the allocation of funds for the adjustments. Since we did not have data for schools with enrollments between 200 and the prototypes (elementary and middle) or 400 and the prototype (high school), we extrapolated the figures from the regression for those size schools.

Food Services: Food service revenues are comprised of Federal subsidies and payments by students, and adults. Efficient food service operations should be able to break even, or possibly make a small profit. We recognize that operating at break-even is more difficult for the very smallest schools if they choose to provide a full service meals program. We have found, however, that most small schools have found alternative ways to provide meals that do not involve a full service kitchen. Some of the alternatives we have observed in Wyoming schools include : Offering no hot lunch program, encouraging students to bring sack lunches; providing food heating facilities (stoves, microwaves) for students and adults to heat food items brought from home; delivering hot lunches from kitchens in nearby district schools; and contracting with local cafes or Meals on Wheels programs to furnish hot meals. Our observations lead us to conclude that, creatively managed, affordable solutions can be found in most cases. Accordingly, we recommend that food service cost recoveries be a local control issue, and not subject to state subsidies. Thus, we recommend that no adjustment for food services be provided.

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