"These are big numbers that we won't find in the budget this year," said Superintendent John Casey, although he was optimistic about working toward finding other funding sources for each project.
The number one item, increasing counselor services, could cost the school district approximately $1.3 million. Meeting the committee's goals of adding a fulltime counselor at all K-5 schools, an addition of 4.5 counselors, would cost $385,295. Reducing the counselor-student ratio to 400:1 at all middle schools would require each school to go from two fulltime counselors to 2.83 counselors at a cost of $246,387. Similarly, at the comprehensive high schools, reducing the counselor-student ratio from the current 700:1 to the desired 350:1 would mean the addition of 6.6 fulltime counselors for a total of $567,719. Village High School would also receive more counselor support by adding one fulltime counselor--currently the school has one who works part-time--bringing the ratio to 200:1 and costing the district $51,611.
The committee also said it would like the addition of counseling clerical support so counselors can have more time to meet with students instead of doing clerical functions. Adding such support would cost the district an additional $228,186.
Class size reduction produced the biggest cost, coming to a total of $8.7 million if the board added enough teachers to reach every ideal ratio suggested by the committee. However, Lepley presented the board with several different reduction options and the cost for each one. As an example, to reduce class size in the fourth and fifth grades to a teacher-student ratio of 25:1, requiring the addition of 21 fulltime teachers, the district would pay $1.7 million. However, reducing those grades to a 28:1 ratio by hiring 13 fulltime teachers would cost a little more than $1 million and a 30:1 ratio with the addition of seven fulltime teachers would cost $557,907. The current ratio is 33:1. Lepley also noted that these numbers do not include the cost of new facilities, something that would also be needed to make class size reduction a real possibility.
"If we reduced to a 30:1 ratio, we could do that with the facilities we have now," she added. "It would be a significant change for half a million."
Adding various technology support items, such as making all middle and high schools wireless hot spots, adding a curriculum integrated technology technician, installing upgrades, adding a district curriculum technology specialist, installing smart classroom technology and increasing computer technicians, could cost nearly $5 million. Casey noted that some of the hardware items could possibly be provided through a grant or by a corporate sponsor, but such funding avenues would not be available for adding employees.
"Maybe we'll have to take it a piece at a time and do it slowly, but hopefully we'll be able to do it," said Trustee Juanita Haugen, referring to the possibility of reaching all of the committee's goals.
Underscoring the conversation was the possibility of presenting the community with a parcel tax during the November or March elections, which the trustees have discussed at past meetings but was not mentioned during Tuesday's meeting.
"Having this information is an important piece of the puzzle when prioritizing and deciding if we may fund these things," said Board President Steve Pulido. "It's great to have this out in the community for when we move forward." Pulido has said at past meetings that he believes the district needs to provide the community with a detailed break down of how the money would be spent before asking them to vote on a parcel tax.