Your Chance to Say "Yes" to Falcon 49's Bold, Cost-Saving Innovation Plan

Colorado Springs Gazette editor Wayne Laugesen posted a great piece last night urging citizens to give District 49 leadership a chance with its bold plan that favors students over bureaucrats:

The school board has decided the large district will go forward without a superintendent — an experiment educators are sure to watch throughout the United States. If Colorado Department of Education officials approve the district’s anticipated application to become an “innovation” district, a chief executive officer will oversee the education program with less authority than a superintendent. Other day-to-day responsibilities, traditionally managed by a superintendent, will shift to principals, teachers and others directly in contact with students. It’s a decentralization plan, designed to focus resources more directly on students and those who work with them. It’s the Marine Corps approach, in which all personnel work the trenches.

You can read his piece and then vote on the question: “Do you support D-49 in eliminating top administrative positions, including the Superintendent?” I hope you join me in choosing the first option: “Yes, it’s a good idea.”

As I’ve written before (and now so has GoBash), the idea has a lot of merit. Especially during a time when school budgets have tightened and even the U.S. Secretary of Education has called for local education leaders to make dramatic improvements by rethinking the status quo. The State Board of Education is slated to vote next week on a similar sort of resolution. Why not get behind a locally-elected Board that is boldly and thoughtfully pursuing such innovation?

Left-leaning researchers and Right-leaning expert analysts agree that consolidating school districts is not the answer for delivering educational services more cost-effectively. In fact, they “suggest school districts investigate deconsolidation.” That sure captures a key part of what Falcon 49 is doing. Witness a promising press release the district sent out Wednesday, which leads off:

Falcon School District 49 announced today their Innovation Initiative will save the district $11.85 million over five years. By cutting four administrative positions, reorganizing central administration and cutting transportation costs, the district will save enough money to offset up to $4 million in anticipated cuts from the state and be able to invest as much as $500 per student directly into classrooms.

The projected claims deserve further investigation, but they make plenty of sense at first blush. If we have a serious chance to sustain or improve academic achievement and other student outcomes for less money, who would be opposed to that? Now you can see why the concentrated interests have come out to select “No” on that Gazette survey. The rest of us need a motivation to balance out their votes.