Yet another front page, above the fold puff piece
So once again the Amherst Bulletin is acting as stenographer/cheerleader for the Amherst Regional Public School administration by failing to point out the recently released, expensive, $5,000 study on the high cost of education (irony alert!) in Amherst failed to point out a rather obvious factor: high administration costs.
And it's not too difficult to uncover that smoking gun. According to the Mass Department Of Education website, Amherst "administration" costs are at $735 vs state average of $447, or 60% higher than state average. And pesky critics have been pointing that out for years.
When the Amherst School Committee first discussed the exceedingly high per-pupil cost ($17,116 vs state average $13,361) some on the committee suggested perhaps other cities and towns had different financial reporting criteria to the state DOE, so perhaps some hidden costs that are not reported could be a factor in making Amherst appear high.
The $5,000 consultant report makes no mention of that, so it sounds like an "apples to apples" comparison confirms Amherst is indeed exceedingly high compared to other cities and towns (higher than two-thirds of comparative cities and towns used by the consultant).
The consultant, however, does the next best thing: praises the town for "A historic value for education here and that's a wonderful thing." Easy for her to say since she does not live and pay our high tax rate.
Funny, I can't ever remember running into a taxpayer who cheers our exceedingly high cost of education, which directly leads to our exceedingly high property tax rate.
And it's not like the academic results are something to applaud either. According to the DOE, Amherst elementary schools (currently a "level 2" category) failed to measure up in 9-out-of-10 areas targeted for improvement. Ouch!
Yes, Amherst teachers at an average annual salary of $66,484 are a little over the $63,000 state average and the student/teacher ratio is lower at 10-1 (not the 1-10 the Amherst Bulletin reported) vs state average of 13.9-1.
But clearly a 5% above-average salary and 39% lower student/teacher ratio does not account for an overall 28% increase over state average in per-pupil costs.
Rather than throw teachers under the bus, ARPS administration needs to take a lesson from AA: first step is to admit there's a problem. Or as Pogo would say, "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Can I bill the School Committee $5,000 for this report?