Resource allocation in District 97 is important. However, the recent ranking of schools by their “per-pupil regular education spending” is at best meaningless to resource allocation and at worst divisive to the community. And despite a lengthy news article discussing pros and cons, some readers no doubt were left believing the rankings have some relevance. They don’t.

The ranking was arrived at by dividing enrollment in a school by the “regular education” salaries. A simple hypothetical example illustrates why this is meaningless:

Say that a relatively new teacher at Beye with 20 students earns $50,000 per year, and a veteran teacher at Whittier earning $78,000 has 25 students. Beye’s per pupil expenditure is $2,500, and the Whittier per pupil expenditure is $3,120.

The district has spent $78,000 at Whittier and $50,000 at Beye-but there are no conclusions that can be drawn from that by itself. Just a few of the relevant questions, of course, are what kind of a learning experience will my child have in either classroom, how effective is the teacher in dealing with my student, and is the difference between 20 and 25 students relevant.

Meaninglessness is not the worst flaw, however. “Schools get pitted against each other when problems arise,” noted several members of the new District 97 Strategic Planning Committee, which convened earlier this month. Two critical problems arising in the district are lack of resources and resource allocation-neither one of which will be resolved if Oak Parkers buy into the illusory rankings published last week.

However, resource allocation will be one of many important issues dealt with by action teams that will meet soon to flesh out the district’s new strategic plan. Interested citizens should fill out an Action Plan Team volunteer form on the district’s website at http://www.op97.k12.il.us/.

Stephen A. Huth
Oak Park

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