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Facilities I


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In October, 2002, the BCWH architecture firm submitted its Facility Master Plan for the Richmond Public Schools.  RPS formerly had the executive summary on its Web page.  They have since removed it.  Sigh.

The Executive Summary summarizes the recommendations of the report.  To get the raw data, however, you have to struggle through the three volumes of the Plan itself.  There are data there that help understand where all the money is going.

In short, we are wasting about more than $15 million a year in the instruction budget, mostly in the elementary and middle schools and we are paying for about 4% excess capacity in elementary schools and 19% (!) excess in middle and high schools.

The first numbers that fall out of the Plan are the enrollments vs. the capacities of the schools.  Our schools are heavily underused.  Among the mainstream high schools, Marshall, Armstrong, Kennedy, and Jefferson all are using less than 80% of their capacity.  In contrast, Huguenot is nearly 20% over capacity.

Among the middle schools, Henderson and Mosby are using only about 60%:

All told, we have 2859 unused places for middle and high school students.  Viewed otherwise are using only 81% of our capacity. 

The enrollment is declining.  Here are the data from the Facility Plan (actual data through 2001-02; projections from 2002-03 on):

 Here we see that the total enrollment has been declining since 1996.  It's hard to know what we are saving 19% of our middle and high school capacity for.

Here are the actual capacity data:

School Type Grades SF 2001-02 Enrollment Capacity % of Capacity
Binford M 6-8 98013 564 562 100%
Boushall M 6-8 128530 816 770 106%
Brown M 6-8 129775 597 682 88%
Chandler M 6-8 110638 518 550 94%
Elkhardt M 6-8 91575 481 594 81%
Henderson M 6-8 188131 656 990 66%
Hill M 6-8 81152 482 638 76%
Minnis M 6-8 95017 515 506 102%
Mosby M 6-8 201042 595 1078 55%
Thompson M 6-8 108346 756 770 98%
      5980 7140 84%
           
Armstrong/Franklin H 9-12 156148 823 1197 69%
Huguenot H 9-12 175245 1250 1085 115%
Jefferson H 9-12 179993 782 1234 63%
Kennedy H 9-12 237532 758 1197 63%
Marshall H 9-12 230994 944 1216 78%
Wythe H 9-12 143114 1208 1272 95%
Open H 9-12 18699 183 168 109%
Community H 9-12 62210 227 505 45%
      6175 7874 78%

The low enrollments also show up as unused space.  To start with, here are the middle and high school building areas (square feet) per enrollment of the Richmond schools. 

Here we see Mosby, Kennedy, and Henderson leading the middle school and high school pack.  Attempting to understand the numbers, let's look at the high and middle schools separately.  First the high schools:

Community and Open are special cases.  If we restrict the analysis to the others, we see:

The least squares fit is fairly good (R2 of 69%) but the intercept leads to the (plainly silly) conclusion that the average common area per kid is 470 square feet.  That would suggest that Armstrong, to pick a school near the middle, has 387,000 square feet of common area when, in fact, the entire school occupies only 156,148 square feet.

Perhaps more interesting: Kennedy has over 300 ft2 per kid while Wythe and Huguenot both have less than half of that.  Hang on to the notion of inexplicable and large differences from school to school.

Among the middle schools, we see an enhanced example of this problem, with a kid at Mosby enjoying well more than twice the space available per kid at Thompson and Boushall.

The least squares fit to these data tells us there is not much to be learned from a least squares fit to these data.

The fitted line does emphasize that Mosby and Henderson enjoy much more space than the other schools.

Here are these data:

School SF 2001-02 Enrollment SF/Kid
Binford 98013 562 174
Boushall 128530 816 158
Brown 129775 597 217
Chandler 110638 518 214
Elkhardt 91575 481 190
Henderson 188131 656 287
Hill 81152 482 168
Minnis 95017 515 184
Mosby 201042 595 338
Thompson 108346 756 143
     
Armstrong/Franklin 156148 823 190
Huguenot 175245 1250 140
Jefferson 179993 782 230
Kennedy 237532 758 313
Marshall 230994 944 245
Wythe 143114 1208 118
Open 18699 183 102
Community 62210 227 274

Turning to the number of faculty, the Education Department website gives us a rough baseline: For grades 8-12 in 2000-01, the state average is 11.4 teachers per kid.  We can't do an exact comparison to Richmond because the Richmond middle schools are grades 6-8 and the high schools are 9-12.  With that caveat, here are the Richmond data expressed as number of full time teachers per 11.4 students. 

The first thing that jumps out here is that we have a lot of teachers and the teacher/student ratios vary quite a bit.

Separating the high- and middle schools, we see a lot of teachers in the select high schools and fewer in the mainstream schools.

Leaving out the two select high schools, we see three schools (Armstrong, Kennedy, and Marshall) with more than average numbers of teachers and three others (Huguenot, Jefferson, and Wythe) with fewer.  The least squares line gives only a mediocre fit and suggests that the larger schools enjoy some economy of scale (while TJ just has to make do with fewer teachers).

In the middle schools we see an excess of teachers but no particular pattern (except that Chandler gets the short end of the stick):

We also have SOL data.  These lead to the important question: Do all these extra teachers improve the SOL scores?

In the high schools the answer is "no" if we exclude the two schools with select student populations:

Indeed, the least squares fit to the data for schools with mainstream student populations says that increasing the number of faculty doesn't help the SOL scores.  To the contrary, we see lower SOLs where we have more teachers:

The R2 says that the correlation with number of teachers explains only about a third of the trend.  Even so, the ten percent of extra teachers at Armstrong plainly aren't doing much good.

As to the middle schools, there is only a hint of a correlation (<1%) between SOL and number of teachers.

Here are the data:

School 2001-02 Enrollment Faculty Faculty per 11.4 Kids 02 SOL
Binford 562 52 1.05 73.4
Boushall 816 79 1.10 50.6
Brown 597 58 1.11 75.1
Chandler 518 36 0.79 60.0
Elkhardt 481 49 1.16 62.2
Henderson 656 76 1.32 69.8
Hill 482 53 1.25 70.8
Minnis 515 52 1.15 52.2
Mosby 595 68 1.30 52.2
Thompson 756 70 1.06 51.4
State       75.5
       
Armstrong/Franklin 823 80 1.11 30.6
Huguenot 1250 99 0.90 64.4
Jefferson 782 62 0.90 65.9
Kennedy 758 73 1.10 50.6
Marshall 944 91 1.10 51.6
Wythe 1208 95 0.90 42.9
Open 183 19 1.18 87.2
Community 227 24 1.21 85.3
State       78.7

What does all this mean?  It suggests that the millions we are spending on extra teachers in elementary and middle and high schools, is wasted money as far as student performance on the SOL test.

 

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Last updated 04/01/12
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher