Friday, August 30, 2002

What's Going

Many Evansville natives like to joke that they are from Boringville, Eville (hence the title of my personal web log), The Armpit of the Universe, Hickville, and some not-rated-G nicknames.

The apex of "Evansville pride" centers around Downtown Evansville, or "Historic Downtown Evansville" as some call it (as if that generates more ooh's and aah's). I previously held a silent disdain for Downtown Evansville, since lots of city funds were put into renovating it and attracting business there, while the West Side--where I live--suffered.

Now, all that has changed. Well, the West Side still has few things to do.

But I finally appreciate Downtown. Today afterschool, Elliot, Ben, Dan, and I walked to Sunset Park to play a friendly game of tennis. In the end, Elliot had been smacked by a ball in his side (I didn't mean to do that I swear!), Ben twisted his ankle, and we were all tired. "I have an idea, let's walk to the Pagoda," suggested Elliot. "It has a cold water fountain and cheap soda machines."

Huh? Pagowha?

Apparently Downtown Evansville has a "Convention & Visitors Bureau"--and for some reason we've yet to discern, it employs Japanese architecture. That's why it's named the Pagoda.

As we plodded down Riverside Drive to get to the Pagoda, we decided to randomly wave at passing cars...surprisingly we did not get a view of any Big Birds. In fact most of the drivers can us a little wave or smile, and we even elicted one friendly honkhonk! Conclusive proof that Evansville people can be friendly after all!

At the Pagoda we got some sodas and sat down to rest for a bit. That's when I found a brochure by Downtown Evansville, Inc. with a map of Downtown Evansville and all it's fun places. Who knew we had all this downtown? A Gus Doener Sports shop? An Office of Therapeutic Massage? Hammerheads Sports Bar & Nightclub? And Advantage Courts & Fitness!

As I parted ways with Elliot and Ben to get back to the Civic Center parking lot (free parking downtown!), I passed by the Riverfront...and wow I must say it is looking much better than before. There are decoration carousel horses, nice sidewalks with cool statues and figures, and the Riverfront doesn't smell as bad as the rest of the Downtown (it's the sewage apparently). If the previous Riverfront were a 0, and the Chicago Riverfront were a 10, the new Evansville Riverfront is about a 5-- which is a BIG improvment.

And now I realize just how awesome Downtown Evansville really is. Historic Downtown Evansville.

Unfortunately, re-examining the West Side, and I am reminded why Evansville is called Boringville.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Who Me? Couldn't Be

I'm rewriting a few of my articles from Random Rants from Eville because they pertain to Sig School. The original posts are here and here.

First, from August 18th, I wrote:

Tonight, Fox 7 aired an interview with McCandless, superintendent of the EVSC, about the EVSC's troubling budget crisis. Here's an excerpt:

"Insurance rates are estimated to go up much higher than we anticipated to the tune of an additional $3 million," he said. "We also have the $1.5 million shortfall that the state has told us that we have to deal with. Then we have another $1.4 million that we lose in tuition to charter school."

Yay, let's all shift blame to the charter school! *note the sarcasm*

First off, McCandless generously rounded Signature's student population up to 250 students, then rounded the $5500 given to Sig School for each student to $5600 to reach his $1.4 million figure. The ACTUAL amount of state funding Sig receives, at 226 students and $5500 each student is $1243000. A 12.63% error of $157,000.

But moreover, "$1.4 million" is assuming that all of Sig's students, if not presented with the option of fulltime Sig School, would have attended EVSC schools, bringing their state money with them. But it's a well known fact that a large portion of Sig's students come from private schools. 11 students converted from Day School. $60500 in state funding. Don't forgot the Mater Dei converts or the students who only attended EVSC schools last year because of their option to attend Sig School half day.

With students converting away from the EVSC, it makes sense that this would equate into smaller classroom sizes at home schools. This allows the EVSC to not have to hire more teachers and instead jam the classes back to their pre-Sig Exodus sizes. The roughly 200 former EVSC students who now attend Sig would need at least 8 teachers per period to teach them (I'm assuming that an average class size of 25 is not too small by EVSC 'economic efficiency' standards) if they attended home schools...If we set a teacher's pay at $40,598.40 (the average salary, obtained from the EVSC high schools from the Indiana Department of Education), that's $324787.20 that the EVSC saves not paying teacher salaries!!! (Yes I realize that those 200 students could be jammed into the EVSC's already overcapacity classes without hiring new teachers, thus not incurring any more faculty costs. But then there's the whole lower education standards with larger class sizes, having long term economic impacts that I don't have the time or space to put here)

Finally, with Sig becoming an independent charter school this year, the EVSC no longer has to pay for the Signature facility, transportation, or faculty.

If the EVSC really wanted a budget crisis it should shift blame for its budget crisis and get bad media on Sig, inadvertently forcing Signature to 'uncharterize' itself and rejoin the EVSC (whether formally or through an exodus of teachers and students); then the manure would really hit the fan--the current budget crisis would look like a good prospect!

Oh wait, McCandless is already doing that...

And from today, I wrote:

A report by the Evansville Courier & Press today futher shows how wrong McCandless was:

Evansville's Signature Charter School has 236 students and will receive more than $312,000 in state funding in the second half of 2002, according to a report filed Tuesday by the Indiana Department of Education...But that funding is not coming from the budgets of traditional public schools because the Indiana attorney general ruled that all start-up costs for charter schools must be funded separately...starting in calendar year 2003, state charter school funding will be taken directly from traditional public schools' budgets, and the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp. stands to lose almost $294,000 in funding for the first half of 2003.

Ok, that is $294,000 that the EVSC is losing to charter school this year. NOT the $1.4 million loss
claimed by McCandless. Sig School in NO WAY has lead to the EVSC's current budget crisis.

Jeez, McCandless. At least do what respectable polititians do: blame your predecessor for all your current
Welcome to the Sig School Monitor! Run entirely by highly-trained, well-equipped, and very dangerous students from Signature School--or just normal Sig students--our mission is to provide 1) An honest, up-to-date voice for Signature School and its students and 2) A comprehensive review of current events, not just locally but also nationally and internationally.

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