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OPEC Update August 2003: A closer look at Westerville

 

        In the August 2003 issue of the OPEC Update, the Ohio Expenditure Council examined the question of "What can we learn from Ohio's Schools?"  The council researched how several factors affect a key measurement of success:  the graduation rate.  The study compared the 25 largest districts in the state and the 25 smallest districts and looked at factors such as attendance, Local financial support, teacher salary and expenditures per pupil.

The study arrived at few correlations and the council made a point to note that "very accurate data can lead to very inaccurate conclusions."  Perhaps conclusions were hard to come by, in part,  because even though the study was split into large and small districts, there was still a wide range of size in each group.  The large districts, where Westerville City Schools falls, range in size from 71,000 to 7,000.  When we compare Westerville with similar sized local districts, the comparisons become more relevant.

            Westerville is the 9th largest district in the state with 13,206 students enrolled in the 2001-2002 school year.  Similar districts in our locality are: Hilliard (12,829), Dublin (11,386), and Worthington (9,691).  When looking at the graduation rates of these four districts, Dublin has the highest rate at 94.2%.  Worthington has the next highest rate at 93.4%. Westerville and Hilliard are close at 92.7% and 90.8% respectively.  To give this some perspective,  Columbus City Schools has a graduation rate of 56%.  Dr. Gene Harris, in a news conference on August 15, 2003 stated that Columbus is striving to reach the 90% graduation mark.  Clearly in terms of school success, using criteria from OPEC, Westerville is highly competitive with its local peer school districts in terms of graduation rate.

            Looking at attendance rates, once again the peer school districts are all quite similar, falling between 95.1% and 95.8%.  These attendance rates are nearly the highest in the large school district category.

            Factoring in local financial support, Westerville has the lowest amount among the local peers at $4,309, slightly higher is Hilliard at $4,603.  The other local peers have much higher amounts at $6,251 for Worthington and $6,671 for Dublin.  Clearly, Westerville is highly competitive with it's local peer districts, while keeping costs to a minimum for district residents.

            OPEC also examined Teacher Salary as it relates to graduation rates.  In this category, Westerville was found to have the highest average teacher salary, using 2001-2002 data, at $53,140, Hilliard the lowest at $48,880.  These numbers alone do not give a clear comparison of teacher salary between the districts.  In order to understand these numbers, we have to look at more factors to make sure we are making like comparisons.  According to newer data from ODE, 2002-2003 classroom teacher salaries show that Worthington moves ahead to have the highest average teacher salary of the peer districts at $56,761.  Looking closer at teacher experience, Westerville and Worthington have the highest percentage of teachers with 10 years or more of experience (62.4% and 74.5% respectively).  Dublin and Hilliard have fewer highly experienced teachers (52.8% and 45.1% respectively).  In terms of beginning salaries, there is very little difference between the 4 districts.  Two other factors which must be looked at are the number of teachers within the districts and pupil to teacher ratios.  ODE data from 2002-2003 shows that Westerville has the highest pupil-teacher ratio at 16.8%.  Dublin (14.3), Hilliard(14.8) and Worthington (13.8) have fewer pupils per teacher.  Looking at total full time teachers for each district, Westerville is found to have approximately 100 fewer teachers (798.0) than its closest peer district in size, Hilliard (897.7).  Yes, Westerville's average teacher salary is high, although newer data than the OPEC study shows that it is not the highest of the peer districts.  To have a better understanding of this number, however, one must look not only at the total dollar figure, but the experience and longevity of the teachers in the district and how those teachers are utilized in the classroom.  Westerville employs fewer teachers than other districts per pupil, but the teachers who are employed are highly experienced, veterans in their profession. 

            Finally, the OPEC study considered expenditures on a per pupil basis.  In this category Westerville had the lowest per pupil spending at $7,696.  Hilliard comes in at $8,365 and once again Dublin and Worthington are much higher at $ 9,940 and $ 9,953 respectively.  For comparison, Westerville's much larger neighbor, Columbus has a per pupil spending which is on par with Dublin and Worthington at $9,922.

            As stated by the Ohio Expenditures Council, when looking at the 25 largest districts and the 25 smallest districts, conclusions are somewhat hard to come by.  However, when looking at the data as compared with closer peers, we are able to have a more clear picture of how Westerville is performing and managing it's resources.  Westerville is found to have the lowest amount of local financial support and per pupil spending among local peers.  Teacher salaries are driven somewhat higher due to experience and utilization.  Clearly this pays off as Westerville proves itself to be highly competitive with other local peers in terms of graduation rate, which was the measure of success in the OPEC study, as well as in school attendance rates.

                                      

                                                           

District Size

2001-2002

FT Teachers

 2002-2003

Westerville

13,206

798.0

Hilliard

12,829

897.7

Dublin

11,386

807.2

Worthington

9,691

690.1

   

                        

Attendance Rate 2001-2002

Westerville

95.10%

Hilliard

95.10%

Worthington

95.70%

Dublin

95.80%

 

 

Local Financial Support

 2001-2002

Westerville

$4,309

Hilliard

$4,603

Worthington

$6,251

Dublin

$6,671

 

 

 

Teacher Comparison 2002-2003

Avg. Salary

10+ Experience

Beginning Salary/Masters

Pupil Teacher Ratio

Worthington

$56,761

74.5%

$34,517

13.8

Westerville

$55,941

62.4%

$34,168

16.8

Dublin

$51,520

52.8%

$34,376

14.3

Hilliard

$48,110

45.1%

$32,852

14.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Per Pupil Expenditures

 2001-2002

Westerville

$7,696

Hilliard

$8,365

Dublin

$9,940

Worthington

$9,953

Columbus

$9,922

 

Graduation Rate 2001-2002

Dublin

94.2%

Worthington

93.4%

Westerville

92.7%

Hilliard

90.8%

Columbus

56%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All data for this discussion came from the OPEC Update, A newsletter published by the Ohio Public Expenditure Council ph. 614-221-7738, and information from the Ohio Department of Education, http://www.ode.state.oh.us 

 

2002-2003 Teacher Salary Comparisons from ODE

Westerville Voters On Target for Education