When It Comes to “Free” Full-Day Kindergarten, School District Flunks Basic Math

Written By: Robert Cox

The actual increased cost of full-day Kindergarten program for the 2009-2010 school is year is about $5,000,000 not “free” as the District has repeatedly claimed. The TOTAL cost of Full-Day Kindergarten which includes ALL the students who will be enrolled in Full-Day, including those who would have been any way at Barnard and through other program is about, and accounts for those who would have been in half-day K is about $17.5mm.

Math students are taught to use estimation to spot check their answers on exams so they have a rough idea of what the correct answer should be before they attempt to solve the problem. This is a test-taking technique long taught in SAT prep courses. Since the District does not know how many kids will enroll for the fall and they are obscuring money in their opaque budget document we will have to make some educated guesses, all of which can be adjusted if the district decided to give exact figures. Let’s see what happens when we apply this estimation math skill to the District’s supposedly “free” Full-Day Kindergarten that is budgeted to begin next fall.

1) There are roughly 11,500 students enrolled in K-12 so each class has about 11,500 divided by 13 which comes out to be about 880 students per class year.

2) The proposed school budget is $229 mm so divide that by 11,500 and you get a cost per pupil of $19,913.

3) $19,913 x 880 is about $17.5mm, the total share of the per pupil cost for Kindergarten students in New Rochelle public schools.

3) About 300 kids already get Full-Day K through Barnard and other programs so there will be about 580 kids who would have been in a half day program but will now be in a full-day program.

4) 580 students who were half time which is the same as 290 full-time students.

5) 290 x $19,913 comes to an increased cost of $5.7 mm , a far cry from the “free” claim being pushed by the District.

The District calls the program “free” because they claim that a “transition” grant from New York State will reimburse the District for furniture, construction and supplies, plus more state aid for the 290 equivalent full-time students and lower transportation costs a the equivalent of one bus trip will be eliminated.

What the District fails to mention is what is obvious from their own budget, that State and Financial aid account for only 20% of the District’s revenue. In School District math if you spend a $1.00 and get back 20 cents you have made a “profit” of 20 cents. In a place I like to call “reality”, the District is LOSING 80 cents on the dollar, all of which is made up by increased local taxes. So, while the District will get about $1.15 mm in increased state and federal aid, local taxes will cover the rest — about $4.5 mm. In School District Math, the taxpayer money coming from the State and Federal government is “free” so they do not count that money.

$4.5 mm accounts for more than 60% of the portion of the 2009-10 budget increase that would be funded by local taxes which puts the lie to the District’s claim that the school budget is a “maintenance budget” with no new programs. Full-Day K is a new, very expensive program that accounts for most of the budget increase funded by local taxes.

This is no comment on the merits of Full-Day K but on the District’s habitual need to lie to voters to trick them into supporting school budgets. Voters should keep in mind, however, that not only is the program not free but whatever “grant” the District is getting is a one-time event the full-cost of the program ($5.7 mm) will be borne in perpetuity (unless you have heard of the District ever cutting programs like this), the Net Present Value of which runs into the tens of millions of dollars. In other words this is a MAJOR eight-figure, long-term financial commitment being passed off as “free” because your State taxes will reimburse a tiny fraction of the first year’s cost. This is like someone selling you a house for no money down and telling you that it’s free so long as you pay all the mortgage, taxes, and upkeep. Yep, it is free for about one day and then you are paying a lot of money for a very long time.

More “free” stuff from the District! They are reassigning 13 teachers. If they earn an average of $80,000 a year that comes out to over $1 mm. They consider this free because they were already on the district payroll which begs the rather obvious question: what are they being paid to do right now? Are their duties so light that they can be removed from their current position with no impact? And if there are 13 such “floaters” in the District how many more are there?

At one time the District had admitted there would be $110,000 a year to hire additional teachers assistants but that is not mentioned much anymore because the focus is on free, free, free.

Free? Far from it.

One thought on “When It Comes to “Free” Full-Day Kindergarten, School District Flunks Basic Math”

  1. Bob, I can’t agree any more!
    Bob, I can’t agree any more! And I have a daughter going into Kindergarten next year, but I don’t think its fiscally responsible to burden the district with this expense right now and I don’t want to “just suck it up” as Emery Schweig the current president of the New Rochelle High School PTA would like us to do. What nerve of these people.

    By seaching out the salarys of my own kids’ teachers, your average teacher salary of $80k per year is too low and that doesn’t count in benefits. I bet with benefits its costing us nearly $200k per teacher. So if they’re reassigning 13 teachers to full day Kindergarten, does that mean these teachers are no longer needed in the district because if that true, we could save close to $2.6M by getting rid of the people! That would and does excite me and could further reduce this years tax increase.

    BTW Bob, does anyone know what our contingency budget would look like if the budget gets voted down twice? To scare the public, I know they always threaten to take away sports 1st which is ridiculous since I just saved the district $2.6M in the paragraph above. Do you think they’d pay me a fee for coming up with a great way to save money?

    Does anyone know what the tab is for the free pre-K program that they offered this year? I bet not and thats part of the problem.

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