To the Editor:
New Performing Arts Center or New Teachers: The hidden cost of diverting
school resources away from needed programs and teachers.
Every budget a community votes on is a reflection of its priorities. It has often been
argued that Chatham schools is good value on the basis of the lower total cost per
pupil as compared to peer school. But how are we exactly containing cost ? Are we
saving on administrative expenditures by running a more efficient ship thank
neighboring districts? Are we paying less for energy through better deals ? Or
maybe we are keeping a lid on debt service from new buildings (or mortgage
payments) by being more Spartan than our peer group ?
The New Jersey Department of Education issues every year the Taxpayers' Guide
to Education Spending, which is the source of the comparative table distributed to
the community . (http://www.state.nj.us/education/guide)
One of the indicators in that report, is Indicator 16 - Ratio of Students to
Classroom Teachers and Median Classroom Teacher Salary
Let’s look today at the Student to Classroom Teachers ratio: This ratio is the closest
proxy to the class size students attend in any high school (more teachers make
smaller class sizes possible). A smaller ratio also allows for more classes to be
offered, both new subjects and more levels in already offered subjects (Regular,
Honors, AP,…) in turn enabling a more differentiated instruction without putting an
undue burden on the teachers. In 2014, Chatham had the highest ratio of all the
schools featured in the comparative table.