Huntsville City Schools 2011 Debacle, Part 2: What $70,000+ Buys These Days, cont’d.

Let’s continue our analysis of Steve Salmon [aka The Demographer] of Education Planners’ $70,000 document.

Go over again to the Huntsville City School’s site and open up the report. Ready?

  • We left off at pages 29-30, Enrollment History. I can’t make heads or tails of this. Can you?
  • Page 31: Enrollment Projection Process. This fails as even another not-quite table of contents since the items listed don’t appear in the following pages. Where is enrollment broken down by school and grade? Where is there a discussion of attendance zone changes? Feeder patterns? Impact aid? Cost per student?
  • Page 32: Wasted page

Page 33: High School Transfers 2010-2011. This one exemplifies the quality of this report.

First, there are seven high schools in the Huntsville City Schools. Let me repeat that. There are seven high schools in the system. NOT six. SEVEN!!

The compiler of this chart seems to think there are six high schools in the system.

Is it really too much to expect that someone who has been paid $70,000 to make recommendations regarding the Huntsville City Schools know how many high schools are in the system?

New Century Technology High School is missing from the chart. Keep this in mind, since one of the most bizarre recommendations made is to move it.

But let’s spend some time fully appreciating the subtleties of page 33. It is a chart that is set up like a mileage chart in an atlas: choose your starting point and look across to your destination. A city can of course be a starting point and a destination for different travelers at different times (but not at the same time) and so there is always a null set in such a chart when the horizontal element and the vertical element are one and the same. You know what I am talking about, I’m sure.

In my universe, a person can only be in one place at one time, and trans, as in transfer, implies movement from one place to another. It is thus logically impossible to transfer from Butler High to Butler High, from Grissom to Grissom, from Johnson to Johnson, and from Lee to Lee. But according to this chart, 1 Butler, 1 Grissom, 3 Johnson, and 1 Lee kid did just that.

When I raised a question about this at the June 16 meeting, $500-a-day Wilson told me that it was possible to transfer from Butler to Butler, etc., that I just didn’t understand the data, that these could be cases where the student returned to her home school.

No, no, and no.

Think about it. Mary is zoned for Butler. She transfers to Lee. She is now a Lee student. She ceases to be a Butler student.  That is what it means to transfer. Mary then decides to leave Lee and transfers to Butler. Now she becomes a Butler student. But she came from Lee to Butler. She didn’t come from Butler to Butler.

But wait — there’s more! Go ahead one page to page 34, Lee Students Overview. According to the Quick Facts box, Lee has 769 total students. Of these, 486 have an “address in district” and 283 have an “address outside district.”

Now, if a student goes to Lee but resides outside the Lee district, would we not agree that she has transferred from her zoned school to Lee?

So on page 33, we would expect to find 283 in the slot designated for total transfers to Lee, right?

And what do we find? Not 283 but 171.

Why? Well, which is it? I haven’t a clue which figure is accurate. I have no reason to believe either figure is. But I ask you: Is it really too much to expect that a $70,000 report present internally consistent figures? Are we really expected to take seriously the recommendations that appear in this report? Note I don’t say that follow from this data — because they don’t.

But that will have to wait. I’m only up to page 34/62.

To be continued…


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