Budgets Grow as Number of Pupils Decrease

January 24, 2014
by Lynne Ober
The number of students in the Hudson School District is getting smaller each and every year, but the operating budget is getting larger each and every year.  A review of data provided by Superintendent Bryan Lane shows that while the number of enrolled pupils has declined significantly, staff and administration numbers have increased.
In 1998 we had a total of 4,313 enrolled students with readiness and special education preschool, but no kindergarten.  However, this school year we have 3,932 pupils including 187 half-day kindergarten pupils and 76 special education preschool pupils.  In 1998, the district had 33 students enrolled in the readiness program and 40 students in the special education preschool program.  When kindergarten, readiness and special education preschool program figures are removed, it is easy to see that the first grade through twelfth grade population is much smaller today and projected to shrink further in the near future.  In 1998, the first grade through twelfth grade population was 4,273 and in the current school year that same population is 3,669, a reduction of 604 pupils or slightly more than 14 percent of the student population.

Next year, Alvirne High School will again see a dramatic decrease, as the projected student enrollment at the high school for next year is 58 fewer students than currently enrolled.  If one compares number of students in each grade in 1998 with number of students in this year’s enrolled classes, one sees nearly 100 fewer students enrolled now in the lower grades.  Starting next year, the smaller classes will be reaching Alvirne and Alvirne’s population will begin to show the same shrinkage as the elementary and middle schools are showing now.

In the 1998-1999 school year, there were a total of 90.5 teachers, including special aid and art and music teachers at the elementary schools.  Today, with smaller enrollments there are 95.5 teachers in our elementary schools.  In both years, preschool teachers are included.  Today, there are five preschool teachers on staff and six kindergarten teachers.  In 1998-1999, there were three readiness teachers and three preschool teachers on staff.  These counts do not include the number of paraprofessionals that are staffed in these schools for special education services.  So, with fewer students, we have more elementary school staff.

At the middle school, it is much the same.  In the 1998-1999 school year, there were 52 teachers at the middle school.  In the current school year, there are 62.5 teachers, according to data provided by Superintendent Bryan Lane.

Alvirne High School shows the same growth in teaching staff while the enrolled population has shrunk.  In 1998-1999, there were 80 teachers.  In the current year, there are 83 teachers.

These numbers do not reflect other staff such as nurses, speech specialists, physical therapists or occupational therapists.

The administration in the Hudson School District has shown a similar growth with 47 administrators in 1998-1999 and 55 on staff this year.  The superintendent supplied the following data, but said he was unsure of the correct number of school psychologists in the 1998-1999 school year.

 

Administration                         1998-99             2013-14

Principals                        5                      5

Elem. Assistant Principals  1                      3

HMS Assistant Principals   2                      3 (Spec. Educ. Dept. Head became Asst. Principal)

AHS Assistant Principals    2                      3 (Spec. Educ. Dept. Head became Asst. Principal)

AHS Academic Dean         0                      1

Elementary Counselors      3                      4

HMS Counselors               2                      3

AHS Counselors                7                      6 (one was federal funded-funding eliminated)

Directors                         4                      4

Elem. Dept. Heads            3                      3 (case coordinators in 1998-99 annual report)

HMS Dept. Heads             5                      4

AHS Dept. Heads             6                      7 (addition of Ag.  Dept. Head elevated from teaching position)

District Dept. Head          1                      1 (ESOL)

Library Media Spec.          3                      3

School Psychologist          3                      4

School Comm. Liaison       0                      1

Totals                            47                     55

 

When people inquire as to why the school budgets are growing as the pupil population shrinks, increasing staff makes up a large portion of those costs.  This does not count the number of people involved in special education from program paraprofessionals to one-on-one paraprofessionals or the specialized staff from reading tutors to a variety of therapists who provide in-school services or school nurses.

With an expected loss of 58 pupils in Alvirne High School next year, will there be a corresponding reduction in administrative staff and teachers?  If not, the cost per pupil will continue to climb.  Former School Board Chairman Dave Alukonis said, “When I was on the board we carefully tried not to increase the number of administrators because we wanted taxpayer dollars to go to direct services, such as teachers provide.  It may be time for an adjustment as enrollments decrease.”