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August 24, 2003
Section: Opinion

Readers have many big questions about proposed changes at McKinley
DAVID C. KAMINSKI
Editor�s note

One of the big stories of last week was the plan by Canton City Schools to convert McKinley Senior High into the equivalent of five 400-student high schools within the McKinley building. Smaller school units provide better education for students, the experts believe.
To perform this conversion of how McKinley is operated, Canton City Schools received a $1.52 million grant from the KnowledgeWorks Foundation of Cincinnati and another $1.1 million from the Stark Education Partnership and other contributors.

There were big questions that readers asked, such as: How much extra money will it cost to administer five high schools instead of one? What are the recurring costs after the grant is used up? And isn�t this yet another example of School Superintendent Dianne Talarico�s layering of bureaucracy in the schools.

From what I understand, the answers are: practically none, nothing and no.

� What about the extra administrators needed for five high schools?

There will be the equivalent of five principals appointed to supervise the five high schools that will operate at McKinley under the district�s plan. But they will come from the assistant principals already on staff. Same with the guidance counselor staff. The counselors from the existing high school will be assigned to the smaller high school units.

Talarico said Friday that she might need one more counselor to make the plan work. The people giving the grant to Canton City require the hiring of a coordinator for the grant, but the grant will pay for that person�s salary.

� What about recurring or duplicative costs?

From what I understand, most of the grant money will be spent not on new staff members or new computers to duplicate the work of existing equipment, or other redundant processes. Talarico said most of the money will be spent on training of faculty and administrators to operate and teach in these smaller high school units.

Staff members will come and go over the years, but I assume that once a new process is learned, the resident staff can teach it to newcomers and the training investment will not have to be repeated at million-dollar levels.

There are many details to discover as Canton City moves toward this effort to educate high school students better by educating them in smaller classes and smaller school communities. Everyone will have the chance to learn more on Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. in McKinley High School when the details will be offered at a public meeting.

� And the bloated bureaucracy?

As for the school administration at the Wells Building downtown, Talarico says it has not grown since she became superintendent in September of 2001. New people have been given new jobs, some of them a combination of two or more jobs that some predecessors performed. Significantly, the entire tier of executive director positions in the administration has been eliminated.

Savings to the administrative budget have totaled $1,058,856, Talarico said on Friday.

Ironically, as a colleague of mine pointed out, that�s about the amount of money Canton City Schools is forced to spend each year on busing alone just to comply with President Bush�s No Child Left Behind legislation.

So, the superintendent works two years to cut $1 million out of her administration, and she has to give it up to an unfunded federal mandate. That�s life in public education.

Write or call

Tell me how you think we�re doing here at your Repository. Call me at (330) 580-8310. E-mail me at:

david.kaminski@cantonrep.com

Leave me a message on the REPline at (330) 430-7999, Ext. 1020 (we listen to the messages every weekday morning), or send me U.S. mail at 500 Market Ave. S, Canton 44702.


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