By Hugh Drummond, Harwich Taxpayers Association.
Monomoy School District Superintendent Carpenter has described the Abraham’s analysis report as an albatross around his neck.
This is the wrong approach.
Abraham’s report is a basic accounting tool to look at the operating expenses of an operation, and to consider what would happen if changes were made. In the case of the Harwich and Chatham Schools, the question is what happens if we regionalize the schools?
The approach is first to look at where money is spent by both schools, and if regionalized what expenses can be eliminated or what expenses might have to increase. It is not done in a vacuum. It requires a lot of input from the school administrators, school committee members, teachers, unions, and state law.
Mr. Mark Abrahams is a Certified Public Accountant who was hired and paid by the regional school district as a consultant to help plan and promote regionalization to the taxpayers of Chatham and Harwich. The report is not cast in concrete. It is subject to interpretation.
However it is substantially correct. Another qualified person doing the study may come up with a different total but the difference would not be material.
Total savings identified in the Abrahams Report are $4.1 million
The total savings identified in the Abrahams Report are $4.1 million dollars with salaries comprising about $2.2 million.
In the last school committee meeting Mr. Carpenter stated that to reduce salaries by $2.2 million dollars would require eliminating up to 44 FTEs.
In his estimation doing so would result in increasing some class sizes by 5 students. When asked, the administrators in attendance indicated that the end result would increase the average size class in the middle school to 27 and at the high school to 23.
Most studies on class size are inconclusive as to whether or not students learn more in smaller settings.
Also the Abrahams Report indicates that another $2.0 million dollars in savings could be found in non-salary line item expenses. So far the draft school budget reportedly incorporates reductions of 25.8 FTEs and Harwich’s assessment has still increased.
At a minimum the superintendent and the school committee should be looking at reducing an additional 16 FTEs as well as reductions in the other areas identified in the Abraham’s report. Instead all we hear is the schools need more money and there are no savings.