How I would Fix My Daughter’s School for $200,000

I am not unfamiliar with public schools.

I have two degrees in teaching–a BS in teaching music, and an MA in school counseling. I’ve student taught in both fields, substitute taught in just about every grade and subject, and taught in a K-12 situation for 2 years. I’ve also been a lunchroom attendant (how’s that for a truly wacky grad school job) an after-school choir director, and a classroom volunteer. My mom worked as a school secretary for a bajillion years, too. I’ve done the rural desperately poor situation, the suburban flush with money situation, and the urban metal-detectors-at-the-door-of-the-kindergarten situation. Obviously, I’m not an expert, and breadth of experience is all I’ve got–my depth is weak. But, the point is, I’m not a newbie to schools.

My daughter attends a magnet school in an urban district. Over 80% of the children in the district qualify for free lunch.

When I enter my daughter’s classroom, I climb through an obstacle course to get to her cubby.  The cute, round room was built with 18 children in mind. It also didn’t count on computers. It is crowded in there. Books and supplies are stuffed into every cranny.  The 26 children, teacher and paraprofessional squeeze into the many content “areas” in the morning.

In some ways, the first thing I want to do is reduce the class size.  It seems like that would solve a lot of things, but I know that would be very expensive, and this is just one of 20 some elementary and K-8 schools in the district.  Teacher salaries were just published, and teachers are paid well, I think. They make more than me, for sure, typically 60-90K.  I don’t envy the salary.  I think teaching elementary school should be an extremely competitive and highly paid field. But realistically, we can’t add another teacher plus all the other stuff that goes into a classroom. it’s too much.

But, paraprofessionals are paid much less. Most of them are either young folks right out of school and waiting on that first teacher job or semi-retired older folks. They don’t plan, meet with parents, or do anything outside of the school day.  Yet, the work they do perform makes things run so much better in the classroom. They free the teacher up to primarily teach.  They lead small groups for reading and math. Selam’s classroom has one. I think two would be better.

So one more para for each kindergarten classroom=50,000 a year.

And I’m going to get one more para for each first grade classroom, too=50,000 a year.

The next thing I’d do is get a full time nurse.  Last year, they took out all of the full time nurses and made them cover two schools.  But a half of a nurse is a frustrating situation. Your kid gets hurt? The teacher or secretary or guidance counselor try to help. Your kid needs daily meds, ditto.  I’d rather that teachers teach, secretaries keep the school running and guidance counselors provide guidance.  I have no idea how much school nurses make, but let’s just be generous and assume 100, 000.  That might be too much, since they don’t have outside of school duties, but RNs do get paid pretty well, so I hope the estimate is a decent one.

So, 50,000 for a half a nurse.

Next, I want to beef up the nurse’s supplies. She currently has a pathetic quantity of basic supplies (one box of gloves,for example).  I want to bring her regular supplies up to quantity and I also want to add in things like vitamins because remember the 80% eligible for free lunch?  I don’t think there are vitamins in those households and I think healthy kids=learning kids.

So, 20K for health supplies.

We’re up to 170,000.

Next, I want a snack every day for every kindergartner and first grader. I want milk. Just milk. I think even a little carton of milk every  afternoon.

I’m going to say 10,000.

My next plan is to buy storage units in which to store all the supplies not currently in use,  OR install the right kind of shelving and make those rooms clear enough to walk through.

Let’s say 15,000

Next, I want to institute school uniforms. We may be the only magnet in the city without them. They make things better for kids with limited incomes. They make mornings easier. They instill a sense of community and cohesion.  They also reinforce that this is a PUBLIC school.

I’m setting aside 4,850 for the costs involved in arguing over school uniforms.

Finally, the web site is terrible. There is not one bit of useful information on it. You cannot even find out the names of the teachers, much less how to contact them.  It’s terrible. But it can be updated.

by a fifth grader.

who I would pay $150.

Okay, who wants to guess what the parent organization is raising funds for?




9 thoughts on “How I would Fix My Daughter’s School for $200,000

  1. Boy I’m afraid too. A football stadium?

    Personally I’m hoping it’s something at least semi-reasonable like a playground — I could actually see the argument for a good playground. My daughter’s soon-to-be school (also public) only has gym classes once a week — childhood obesity problem anyway?

    But I’m afraid from the tone of your post it’s something completely different.

  2. I’m betting nothing useful. I’ve been a bit disillusioned by the parent organization at my children’s school, too. They like to do things like raise money to bring donuts into the classroom. Because that’s useful.

  3. I’m stunned that there are 26 kids in a kindergarten class…since my kids are grown I’m out of touch with the state’s allowable ratios, but when the kid was that age (in a different state) the ratio was 18-1 (teacher, paras didn’t count for class size limits). (My older kids were in much larger classes than that, but they all went to school in poor southern states and longer ago.)

    This post reminds me of the old bumper sticker “It will be a great day when our schools have everything they need and the air force has to have a bake sale to buy a new bomber” or something to that effect. Some things just don’ seem to change. 😦

  4. Pingback: All the cool kids « theskyislaughing

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