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Monday, June 20, 2011

Waiting for Superman isn’t time well spent

Letter to the Editor

The proposed Nashua school budget illustrates the problem with funding public education.

State standards for guidance counselors dictate 500 students per counselor for elementary school and 300 students per counselor for middle and high school. This computes to a staffing requirement of 33 guidance counselors.

The school budget shows 40 guidance counselors, seven more than required. The budget also shows five guidance positions “saved” from the disbanded Phoenix program and a discontinued grant program, thus adding 12 more counselors than required at a combined cost of $700,000.

In addition, the school employs 15 school psychologists at a cost of $1.03 million, an $88,000 guidance director and their secretaries. These salary costs are further loaded at an average 42.6 percent overhead for benefits.

None of these guidance functions provide instruction in the classroom. Much of these costs could be cut without sacrifice to education.

I recommend the 12 excess guidance counselor positions be converted to classroom teachers focused on advanced studies. Funding for the REACH program keeps getting cut, while funding for special education students keeps increasing.

We need to promote our gifted and talented students, for those students will create the productive jobs for tomorrow. Decades of neglect of educational excellence, in favor of counterproductive social engineering, has metastasized into an alarming loss of skilled jobs in the workplace.

We cannot “Wait for Superman,” for he will not come to save our public schools. We need to eradicate the mindset that replaces classroom teachers with surplus guidance counselors and psychologists.

Fred S. Teeboom