Ten principals at two high schools not a luxury, letter writer says

To the editor:

In Karl Frank Jr.’s proposed school budget, he would cut one principal from each of our high schools.

In a front-page article of the Jan. 19 Call Newspaper, Mr. Frank is quoted as saying, “It’s a luxury item to have 10 principals at two high schools.”

He seems to be holding tight to this falsehood. Five principals for a high school with over 2,000 students is not a luxury. It is significantly below average and a disadvantage to students. Sadly, OHS doesn’t even have five principals/administrators. They have 4.5 full-time employees that fill the position. OHS has one person that is a half-time principal/administrator and the other half of their time is spent coordinating the A+ Program.

The “desirable” accreditation standard for Missouri public schools is to have one principal/administrator for each 300 students. In the 2004-2005 school year Oakville Senior High had 2,094 students. “Desirable” standards would give OHS about seven principals. OHS doesn’t meet “Desirable” standards and is certainly not “luxurious” or “extravagant.”

There are minimum accreditation standards that school districts are not to go below. The “minimum” standard is to have one principal/administrator for each 500 students of 4.2 principals of OHS. The 4.5 OHS principals is barely above minimum standards. Mr. Frank’s goal of 3.5 principals puts OHS students below minimum state standards for accreditation. Is this part of Mr. Frank’s quality “American Education?”

Last year OHS had one principal for each 465 students. Of 46 metro area high schools, only three high schools had more students per principal than OHS — Hancock, Washington, and Riverview Gardens. It is Mr. Frank’s opinion that being 43 is a “luxury?” If OHS lost one of their principals, there would only be three other high schools in the entire state with more students per principal/administrator than OHS — Rock Bridge, Clinton and St. James.

Some of these high schools use teachers in addition to their principals to fill their schools’ administration staffing needs. In these schools, teachers spend one class period per day supervising students or serving other needs based on their certifications. OHS doesn’t do that either.

Mr. Frank seems to think that one of our OHS principals is a “luxurious waste of money.” Which one might that be? Our 4.5 principals are responsible for the smooth operation of a large community of slightly over 2,000 teenagers, 120 staff members, 48 activity groups, 38 sports teams, and 4,000 parents. The OHS student population is larger than many towns in rural Missouri. These 2,000-plus students have been crammed into one of the smallest buildings on one of the smallest school campuses in Missouri.

Mr. Frank spread this misinformation right before the vote on Prop A and uses it in “his” proposed district budget. Is he willing to say anything to grab the attention of the Call? Is his misinformation well meaning ignorance or premeditated deception? Whatever his motivation, Mr. Frank owes Oakville Senior High School students, staff, and parents an apology for spreading misinformation about their school and contributing — what ever amount — to the defeat of Prop A. Instead he should be working for their benefit and helping them to acquire the best education possible.

If you are interested, MHS had 2,025 students in the 2004-2005 school year, a 1/450 student/administrator ratio and was 40/46 in the metro schools. They also have 4.5 principals/administrators. The data used is from the 2004-2005 school year and is the most recent data available from the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education — www.dese.mo.gov.

Pennie Ranzetta