The Green Bay School District is hardly unique, but this story is a revealing insight into why the cost of public education in Wisconsin is out of control.
Concerns about student misbehavior, safety and poor academic performance at the school came to light in June 2017, when a former teacher resigned during a Green Bay School Board meeting.
She said students physically assaulted peers and staff, vandalized property, carried weapons and used vulgar language.
A Press-Gazette review of police calls and discipline records in the 2015-16 academic year found a disproportionate percentage of black students were being suspended at both Washington and Franklin middle schools. While black students constituted just 13% of Washington’s 904 students that school year, they accounted for nearly 40% of the suspensions.
After staff increases at Washington failed to trigger the desired improvement, the district hired Olson and brought in American Institutes for Research of Washington, D.C., to guide the turnaround effort.
The Green Bay School District paid AIR nearly $400,000 in the first year and would’ve paid an additional $216,000 this school year.
Based on internal student achievement tests from the last school year, the district anticipates Washington students will show improvement in language arts, while math scores will fall, when scores are reported later this year for the Wisconsin Forward Exam, the state’s standardized student achievement test.
A quick scan off the Green Bay School District’s staff directory shows no fewer than 4 Deans; 65 Principals and Associate Principals; 23 Directors, Executive Directors, & Associate Directors of something education related; an Associate Superintendent and the Superintendent. That’s a full 94 people (at a fully-burdened cost of probably between $14 and $18 million per year) whose job is to wake up every day and figure out how to provide a great education for all of the kids in their charge. These professionals are presumably all trained, certified by the State of Wisconsin, and have centuries of cumulative experience behind them.
Yet what does the district do when faced with a problem? Do they hold the people running the show responsible for the poor performance? Do they gather these immense internal resources together to divine a solution?
No. They hire a consultant for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once again, the fetish to “do something,” like spend money on a consultant, is preferable to the hard work of getting results.