A consultant’s independent study on York County’s 16 public school districts reviews their efficiency of operations and their effectiveness as measured by student test scores. The study – undertaken for the Center for Community Engagement at York College of Pennsylvania by Denver, Colorado-based Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, Inc. (APA) – remarks favorably on many conditions, but also issues some recommendations for continued improvement.
The full study is online:
“The Center for Community Engagement agreed to head a study process based on interest in the issue among the county’s legislative delegation,” said Suzanne McConkey, the Center’s consulting services coordinator. “The report adds to the body of independent, objective research on York County schools that can help policymakers reach decisions about our children’s future.”
In the study, “Examining Resource Use and Areas for Enhanced Cooperation in York County’s School Districts,” APA evaluates efficiency based on teachers, aides, administrative staff and support staff per 1000 weighted students; regular and special instructional spending per weighted student, adjusted for cost of living; teacher salaries and benefits, adjusted for cost of living; and maintenance and operation costs.
York County’s districts are not necessarily compared to each other; rather, they are compared to “peer” districts in Pennsylvania according to size and need. For example, Hanover Public, the smallest district in the county by more than 1000 students, is measured not against South Western or Spring Grove Area, but against such systems as Antietam schools in Berks County and Newport schools in Perry County.
The report lists more than a dozen existing positive conditions, including:
- Districts are making improvements in using assessment data to drive instruction.
- Districts have devoted significant effort to differentiated instruction to address specific needs.
- Research-based strategies are improving performance.
- Most districts offer some form of full-day kindergarten.
- Joint purchasing programs and an insurance trust are saving money.
The consultant’s recommendations are that the schools:
- Create an inter-district cyber charter school;
- Create a best practices clearinghouse;
- Expand preschool;
- Address new school building construction issues;
- Expand efforts to attract and retain quality teachers and leaders; and
- Improve district calendar alignment.
Funding came from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development via the York County state legislative delegation; RAYAC, the REALTORS Association of York and Adams Counties; the Manufacturers’ Association of South Central Pennsylvania; the York County Builders Association; and the County of York.
For more information, contact Suzanne McConkey at the Center for Community Engagement at York College of Pennsylvania, 717/815-6434.