City Considering Closing Buford or Walker

The city school system is thinking about shutting down Walker Elementary or Buford Middle, Rachana Dixit wrote in yesterday’s Progress. Walker serves solely fifth- and sixth-grade students, while Buford serves seventh- and eighth-grade students. By consolidating them—probably at Buford—the city could save up to $700k/year in salaries…but it would require $21M in capital costs.

From the late sixties until the late eighties, Buford and Walker were both middle schools. In 1988, they split the duty, with Walker taking the lower two grades, and Buford taking the upper two.

The school board will vote on this in mid-October.

11 Responses to “City Considering Closing Buford or Walker”

  • So we can spend $21 million now to save as much as $14 million in twenty years? I feel like there must be some better financial options for the school board.

  • I don’t quite know where the $14 million dollar savings concept comes from. I would think that over the lifespan of a significantly improved facility that, once inflation is taken into account, the operating expense savings over time would be much, much larger than $14 million.

    In addition, the concept assumes that without any changes to overall school formatting (i.e. keeping both Buford and Walker open), Buford and Walker would not need any significant capital improvements. That’s not really the case.

    Walker and Buford are both about 45 to 50 years old. Both were also designed with an open-concept that runs contrary to the more security conscience concerns of today’s society. Needless to say, that if both schools remained open, both schools would most likely need significant capital improvements over the next 10 years. That price tag would be in addition to the operating expenses associated with keeping both schools open.

    I think the concept being put forward by the school system is a good one. It addresses the slowly shrinking student population, while at the same time focusing primary capital improvements on only one facility instead of two. Also, by more effectively controlling future operating expenses by effectively closing one school, the concept really funds itself through savings and efficiency.

    The school board’s idea sounds like a good idea to me.

  • It sounded to me from the presentation at the meeting last night that they are planning to close Walker, and then possibly consolidate their alternative school, and both central offices into Walker. So, there would be additional infrastructure costs to the Walker renovation.

    I agree that I am not sure that this will represent any cost savings–except that capital improvements comes from one budget and personnel costs come from another.

  • In 1988, they split the duty, with Walker taking the lower two grades, and Buford taking the upper two.

    They split the duty because Buford had consistently LOW test scores (by whichever testing standards they used back then) when compared to Walker, which always had the better scores.

    There solution was to bring up the Buford scores by running the better performing teachers and students through both schools

    Both were also designed with an open-concept that runs contrary to the more security conscience concerns of today’s society.

    I think that’s probably a “good thing.” I’ve seen the more modern “security conscious” school designs in larger cities. They look like Prisons.

    I wonder if anyone has done a study/comparison between students in one type of school vs students in the “supermax” security type of school and how many students from each wind up making the transition from school to prison.

  • Just Bob brings up a good point: what kind of public school today (if any) actually educates children?

    We will never know, because the people doing the measuring represent one theory or another and are out to prove their side is best. So they design the study and the target for the outcome they want. Four studies are likely to reach four conclusions.

    If a career or a study grant hangs in the balance, honesty is not the best policy. If it were, we’d see more of it.

  • It may not be the best plan financially but I really like that the current structure. The upper elementary school has worked out well for my kids and definitely an enhancement to their education. I have never liked the idea of 6th graders in school with 8th graders.

  • I have never liked the idea of 6th graders in school with 8th graders.

    When I (starting in 5th Grade after 4 years at a private school) went through the Cville School System and Walker (before they changed things) the 8th and 6th Graders never socialized. All of the bullying and beatings that I took (almost weekly- if not, then at least monthly) were from kids in the same grade, and sometimes same classes.

    As an additional FYI or FWIW:

    During the debate about changing the public school format and dumbing down Walkers higher testing scores to raise Buford’s lower scores, people of course used race and racism (wrongly in my opinion) as one of the justifications for the dilution. Theory being that Walker was more “white” than “Buford” so of course their test scores would be higher.

    It’s always easier to blame someone else rather than hold individuals accountable.

    Teacher Salaries Published:

    I also remember for a little while, when Cville Weekly (at least I think it was Cville Weekly) had the news reputation “The Hook” now has- Public School Teacher’s Salaries became “public record”.

    The First year they were available “publicly” Cville Weekly put out their first annual “teacher’s salaries” edition, and published the entire list of what every teacher in the school system made annually. They did it several years in a row.

    What ever happened with that?

    I would love to see either the Hook or Cville Weekly do that again. Especially as the Teacher’s and School system’s are always crying poverty.

  • So, all the hoopla last year, about making Walker and Buford each into a 6-8 grade middle school was just a giant waste of time?

  • The salary scales for all school system employees are listed on the city website. They are on the HR section of the page. Average salaries are, of course, misleading, since they are a measure of how long the teaching population in a given school or system has been employed.

    the average salaries in each system are available on the department of education website in the superintendent’s report.

  • Walker and Buford were junior high schools (7 – 9) until 1974. Then they became middle schools (6 – 8 ). Both schools have been well-maintained since they were built and there appears to be some expensive work going on at Buford now. No one can figure out whether there will be any savings or not. That’s why proponents of one scenario or other will always claim that there are savings for his choice. The real question is “Do we want/need to spend $21M to make renovations to Buford, what kind of renovations and why?” Cconsultants and elected officials are a dangerous combination. Invariably their decision-making process ends up being a brain-storming session to think of all of the things they can spend money on. Notice that none of that money is being spent on the children’s education and the school system isn’t guaranteeing that spending that $21Miror Annual-Yearly-Progress results. Then the Board will brag about how much money we have “spent on education locally and how well our Council have supported our schools financially.”

  • Certainly one needs a building in order to teach, but I suspect there are other measures of education investment that yield more benefit. My limited experience says that policy should maximize the funds that reach affect the day to day classroom. This would include teacher salaries, teaching supplies and funds for educational trips and various experiences. Administrative costs, including the building, should be as small as what is required to accomplish the task.

    If the current administrative overhead is x, I would expect the proposal to be justified with an estimate of reducing overhead to x minus some amount.

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