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District Will Hire Literacy Chair After Saving On Bus Routes, Staffing

By making bus routes even more efficient than they were and realizing savings in staffing, the Ridgefield School District is now able to fill its need for a literacy department chair at the elementary school level.

The bus system was masterfully efficient as it was -- even the computers agreed.

But by tweaking routes just a bit more via an optimization study and advanced Edulog software, the Ridgefield School District found it could do with one less bus this year for a savings of about $83 thousand (after the software costs), according to district business manager Paul Hendrickson.

With those funds now in place and around $62 thousand saved by staying under budget in certified staffing for 2011-12, the Board of Education voted Monday night to hire a K-5 Literacy Department Chair for the coming school year.

The district made clear during April's budget season that the literacy chair had been identified as a need but the $100-thousand-plus-benefits salary didn't fit into the funds approved by the Board of Finance.

And unlike last year, the district was able to meet budgeted staff-turnover projections, entering the new year without a deficit. Superintendent Deborah Low credited all three with providing the opportunity to fill the literacy position.

"The need has been there for a while," Low said. "I feel there's a door open here, an opportunity we need to take."

Currently, the literacy program is staffed by part-time outside consultants.

Low mentioned the newly adopted inter-state Common Core Standards Connecticut schools will need to meet by 2014-15 and said theliteracy chair would play an important role in rising to those standards.

The bus-route savings came as good news to the district, and did so by a small margin.

The routing system formerly in place almost had the Edulog software at a loss for improvement, reported technology manager Josh Smith and transportation manager Rick Lupinacci, clearly proud of their prior work as well as the new savings.

Smith read from the Edulog draft report: "It is very unusual for us not to be able to find savings in any operation, but even with all out sophisticated optimizing tools, we were simply not able to find much room for improvement in this case. The current runs are efficient and well planned out."

But it turned out the software was able to find that one bus route to be eliminated.

H August 24, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Let me get this straight, we take away German from incoming 6th graders in the middle schools due to lack of funds, saving us $12,000, and as soon as a little money is found, we hire a $100,000+ literacy chair. WHAT?
Sally Alexandroff August 24, 2011 at 09:10 PM
Wonder which bus has been removed. Remember the chaos two years ago?
WaitASec August 25, 2011 at 12:14 AM
I'm concerned the bus report said last year's bus routes were efficient and well planned out. The buses were late most every day at my child's elementary school. All you had to do was drive past the school 10 minutes after it officially let out to see the crowd of children still waiting on the sidewalk. The buses were late. Ask the parents. Ask the teachers. Ask the principals. How could this be called efficient? I shudder to think what will happen this year with one less bus.
S August 25, 2011 at 12:24 AM
@renzo---schedule out??where can I find it??
ken dryden August 25, 2011 at 12:34 AM
Sounds like the world's cushiest crony job.
John McNicholas August 25, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Maybe I am a little slow on the uptake for this issue. Let's have all the parents of children in our district work with their children and help foster good literacy by encouraging reading and discouraging idle time. Maybe if the parents took some interest in the literacy of their children we could save another 100K plus teaching position. What does a literacy Chair do anyway? Supervise the reading teachers who are supposed to be teaching the children anyway? Sounds a little redundant doesn't it? Maybe the BOE should hire a math consultant because these numbers are a disgrace and dont add up for something parents should be doing anyway.

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