What are the costs and benefits to closing schools in Hartford?

Posted on

Last week, I posted a data visualization that connected public data on enrollment, race, and State-defined accountability for the Hartford Public Schools. The requests came in response to the HPS plans to reorganize the school district, including the closure of 3 schools. I also pointed out here that Batchelder, Simpson-Waverly, and Milner are not the smallest schools in the district and not the first I would look at to merge or close.

In addition to this information, I’ve been asked, “will the plan to close three schools and reorganize the district result in ~$15 million in saving?” My short answer: maybe, but I would need more information.

For me, it just makes sense to ask for exact details about where the savings will be, how much, and how the savings would be redirected. As I previously stated, “…school leaders need to be prepared to explain to parents and students in closing schools exactly what the benefits will be for them in their new school…”

Savings to that degree (~$15-17 million) could be possible if everything else is constant. But contractual employee benefits and salary, required student support and transportation, plus continued maintenance of buildings could surpass that $15 million before it every translates to savings or more student support/intervention.

Take the issue of transportation. Many students that attend a school that would close could need district-provided transportation based on the district’s guidelines. For example, if Batchelder closed, then many kindergarten and first grade students attending that school would need transportation to get to Moylan or Kennelly because those schools are more than half a mile away. Students in older grades could need transportation to Moylan, which is more than mile away from Batchelder.

The Opportunity to Learn Campaign has noted this and other issues in their infographic, “Debunking the Myths of School Closures”. You can access that resource here.

As of this writing, I have not seen any  detailed information to explain savings and/or continued/hidden costs of closing these schools, including the issue of transportation. The public and parents have a right to know what are actual savings of closings schools and how that translates to actual benefits at the new host schools and district overall. As far as quality, that is a function of resources (including access to high-performing peers) and practices.  Whether quality will improve remains to be seen since that will depend on those two things.

Here’s a graphic organizer to help the analysis.

Possible Actions Savings ($/resources) Benefits

/Improvements

($/resources)

New Costs

($/resources)

Close Milner Dollars/Resources? Dollars?

Resources?

Learning?

1. Students forced to move to new schools.

2. Impact on academic continuity, transportation, class size, neighborhoods, relationships, culture/climate, access to peers.

Close Simpson-Waverly Dollars/Resources? Dollars?

Resources?

Learning?

Close Batchelder Dollars/Resources? Dollars?

Resources?

Learning?

Other actions

 

Dollars/Resources? Dollars?

Resources?

Learning?

Published by

Robert Cotto Jr.

Robert Cotto, Jr. is currently the Director of Urban Educational Initiatives at Trinity College and a Lecturer in the Educational Studies department. Before his work at Trinity, he was a Senior Policy Fellow in K-12 Education for CT Voices for Children where he published reports on Connecticut’s testing system, public school choice, and K-12 education data and policy. He taught for seven years as a social studies teacher at the Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies (MLC), an interdistrict magnet school intended to provide a high-quality education and promote racial, ethnic, and economic integration. Born and raised in Connecticut, Mr. Cotto was the first in his family to go to college and he earned his B.A. degree in sociology at Dartmouth College, his Ed.M. at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and an M.A. in American Studies at Trinity College. He is serving his second term on the Hartford Board of Education and in the past has served as Secretary and Policy Committee Chair. Since returning back home to CT from college, Robert has lived in the Frog Hollow neighborhood and he recently moved to the Forster Heights area of the Southwest neighborhood.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *