SCHS Too Big to Succeed
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Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012



NO PLAN FOR THE OVERCROWDED SCOTT COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL

That admission says it all. We remain stunned at the contempt our school board showed our community Tuesday evening. There is much we want to say concerning the meeting but are at this time seeking counsel and reserving and measuring our words. We will soon make charges as to the letter of defense signed by all but one school board member, but are first awaiting a response from Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education, Dr. Terry Holliday.

We do want to be clear that SCHSTooBig does not support a tax increase at this time. We know all too well how the district spends the taxes it already collects, and this must change before we could support any targeted tax increase.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21 -- (This a long post, but well worth reading, as it unveils the inaccurate information the district has disseminated in its attempt to salvage its poor decision and to recover from its self-inflicted public relations debacle!)
Ultimately, the Valentine's Day School Board meeting was little more than a distraction, although it did serve to open some of the public’s eyes as to how this school board operates and how it views them. And hopefully you may now appreciate why district employees need a letter of non reprisal before they speak publicly.

In an attempt to get back on track though, recall the impetus for SCHSTooBig. In the original post we said, “Welcome to SCHSTooBig.com, a site created to provide a voice where previously there has been none. Please excuse the under construction appearance, as it was only conceived after the school board posted a letter on its website (http://www.scott.kyschools.us/) defending its vote”. This letter is signed by all but one of the school board members. It is the content of that letter that must remain our focus. No one disputes that the board dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s as far as the process goes, but it is the data from which the decision to build the new elementary was based that is flawed. And that flawed data has resulted in a flawed decision. Where the recommendation came from to dangerously expand Scott County High’s cafeteria in the middle of a school year instead of safely adding one to Elkhorn Crossing School is anyone’s guess.

THE NUMBERS
People seem to shut down when you begin to discuss numbers. But if you care about this circumstance, you must get a grasp of the data, and how the board has either massaged that data to fit their decision or themselves have blindly accepted data provided that can most generously be called “flawed”. A commenter’s characterization of the letter on this web site’s discussion board (time and date stamped, Sunday, 2-19-12@1:21pm) may be closer to the truth though.

The letter justifies the board’s decision based on their conclusion that the elementary and the pre-school center are over capacity by 600 students while Scott county High is over capacity by only 105 students. It would be closer to the truth to reverse those numbers. Let’s start here.

Each of the eight elementary and pre-school facilities have an individual capacity rating that must be added together for a total. The letter states this total to be 3,810. This number agrees with the individual capacities quoted at the Kentucky Department of Education’s facility plan web site. Now to determine the over capacity the 3,810 must be subtracted from the total enrollment of students from those same eight facilities. This number is harder to verify and although we came up with a number 49 less than the letter’s 4,410 we will for the moment accept the 4,410. 4,410 minus 3,810 equals the 600 the letter regards as the total over capacity of the elementaries and the pre-school center. However, the 4,410 counts each one half day pre-school and kindergartner as a full enrollment. This means the 4,410 enrollment is overstated by one half of the total number of pre-school and kindergarten students. The over statement is at least 200, probably much more. But a conservative over capacity number is more like 400 students, most likely less. This 400 is spread over all eight facilities for an average over capacity per facility of 50, again probably less.

The letter’s total capacity for the high school adds the high school building’s 1,095 plus the Ninth Grade School’s 621 plus an erroneous 432 for ECS. This erroneous total that the letter states is 2,148, however, while ECS may in fact have a capacity of 432, its “effective” capacity is at least one half that as they only staff for and only accept that many in the building at “any given time”, contrary to the letter’s written statement that “ 432 students, at any given time, attend classes at Elkhorn Crossing School”. ECS has 216 students in a morning session and then buses those back to the high school with a new 216 bused back to ECS for the afternoon session. The letter over states the total capacity by at least 216 with the “real” total number being closer to 1,932. The letter then understates the total enrollment for the schools at 2,253. We are not sure where they got this number because we have a mid January day’s attendance of 2,334 that doesn’t include that day’s absenteeism which adds at least another 150. But to remain conservative we will use the 2,400 number quoted by the News Graphic. 2,400 students minus the facilities capacity of 1,932 equals a conservative over capacity of at least 468. This 468 “real” over capacity helps explain the districts knee jerk expansion of the high school’s cafeteria and also illustrates they know the 105 is incorrect. Were it only 105, they would not be in such a hurry to expand the cafeteria.

And that brings up the question that won’t be answered by this self described “transparent” school board. Why dangerously expand the cafeteria on the already too small high school campus when the same $1 million would safely build a wonderful cafeteria at the “cafeteria-less” Elkhorn Crossing School. A cafeteria at ECS would immediately relieve the high school’s cafeteria of 432 students a day and more if the ECS enrollment is expanded. 

These are serious errors in the data that curiously support the school board’s decision to build the elementary before providing relief for the high school. But there is more.

The letter further supports the board's case by stating that projections for enrollment growth show elementary growth exceeding that of the high school. We suppose this thinking assumes more and more students will either drop out of high school or will attend private high schools. We attach graphs and data derived from the district’s 2013 budget to counter the elementary growth projections for those inclined to go this deep. It’s worth it.

The letter then states “The addition of Elkhorn Crossing School has reduced the number of students in the high school at any given time”. Well, that is true but it amounts to a double count of those students because the letter has already included ECS’s capacity in the total capacity. This is an old statistical tool to double count. Think about it and don’t fall for it.

The letter goes on to say “432 students, at any given time, attend classes at Elkhorn Crossing School”. THERE ARE ONLY 216 STUDENTS AT ECS AT ANY GIVEN TIME! This not only double counts, but doubles the double counted number!

The letter also says the facilities plan prioritizes our school district’s needs as first a new elementary school, then a cafeteria expansion and then a new high school. The state’s facility plan web site shows a new high school ahead of a cafeteria expansion.

And then there is the letter’s statement that a new high school will cost between $60 million and $80 million dollars when the district has a new high school already on record at the state’s facility plan web site for $36 million. Are you starting to see why the commenter’s characterization of the letter that we mentioned earlier might be more accurate?

This is why SCHSTooBig thinks our focus should be to legally reconvene the Local Planning Committee (LPC) and impose a construction moratorium at both construction sites until the LPC hears a critical analysis of the data from which they made their decision. Someone should have to defend these numbers and answer our questions. This letter does not insult our intelligence, it ASSAULTS IT!

If you agree with SCHSTooBig, we need you to either contact us via the “contact us” box on this web site or get into communication with someone else who has. We are organizing an off line group and need your participation.

We so want to thank those who have joined us and are supporting our efforts, particularly those who attended the meeting and more particularly those who spoke in the face of CONTEMPT. Let this much be said, if an elementary school is constructed next in Scott County instead of a high school, it shall be called CONTEMPT. CONTEMPT ELEMENTARY will wear this school board’s shame and all those who stand in defense of it.
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