23 May 2024

Assumptions Made by ASD Make a Big Difference in the Numbers!

The numbers presented to the ASD Board on May 14 should be studied very closely. Unfortunately, many people are unable or unwilling to take a deeper look, focusing on the conclusions made instead of on the assumptions that led to those conclusions. Let's look at 2 important points:

  1. All the numbers in the presentation are based on ASD's assumption that smaller districts have higher Administrative Overhead Costs (AOC) than larger ones.
  2. This assumption is contradicted in the presentation itself, especially if the numbers are being added up correctly.

Are administrative overhead costs more for smaller districts? Not according to the numbers in ASD's slide. See the attached chart, and note that there is no correlation between district size and admin overhead costs, at least for districts in Utah over 13,000 students.

Now note that Granite School District's costs were NOT included in the overhead average for large districts. If they had, this number would be $2,354, not $2,034. So on average, do larger school districts have lower admin overhead costs? No! 

Now do the math on all the groups. In the presentation, they said they took out the highest number of each group. But they only did that with the largest district size group! Don't take my word for it, add up the numbers themselves.

So for the rest of the presentation, they used this arbitrary average number to estimate costs for a split that make it about $500 more per student than what ASD currently operates at. Yet there are several of those smaller school districts (Weber, Tooele, Cache, Washington) that operate at similar costs to ASD. Why couldn't the 3 new districts continue to operate at or near this level?

What costs could we expect to see if we were under that assumption instead of the other assumption? If we use $1,935 (ASD's current cost per student) instead of the $2,470 used in the slides, that's about $500 less for each student. That means the East's deficit is only $3 million instead of $16 million; the West has a $20 million surplus instead of $8 million; and the Central has a surplus of $2 million instead of a $15 million deficit.

Calculations based on assumptions make a HUGE difference!

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