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Media: Times Article Exaggerates Turnaround Costs

Two quick thoughts about Sam Dillon's NYT story on Locke high school (about which I am writing a book).  First off, it was interesting to watch as the headline for the story changed overnight from Cost of Progress at a Failing School to School Is Turned Around, but Cost Gives Pause.  The newer headline seems slightly more favorable to Green Dot in that it establishes that Locke is much improved.  The original headline hit lighter on the cost issue but might have made readers think Locke was still the same as before.  

ScreenHunter_17 Jun. 02 18.15Speaking of the cost issue -- the only real news in Dillon's piece -- I'm sure the folks at Green Dot and elsewhere in the state would want it noted more prominently that California's spending on education has fallen to levels much lower than in other states, and that at least some of the extra funding required at Locke -- $1250 per kid, I'm told -- is a function of that low reimbursement rate rather than a real turnaround cost. (And, it should be noted, not all of the schools needing turnarounding are as large and surrounded by violence as Locke - many are substantially smaller and in somewhat less dangerous locations, requiring less by way of additional security.) 

I'm not saying turnarounds are cheap or that Green Dot hasn't spent a lot of outside money, just that the state per pupil and the size of the school and the extreme dangers of Watts should probably be taken into account a little bit better than they were in this particular story. 

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According to the story, the cost for the turnaround is $15,000,000 for a school with 3200 students, which amounts to $4700 per student. Does anyone know what the cost per student is for opening a new high school these days? That is a number that, in a perfect world, would be easy to find, considering how much press attention new schools get.

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