Cost of Extending the Student Day
There are numerous ways to extend the student day. These range from partnering with outside organizations to extending the current programming for additional time each day. The costs would vary depending on the model selected. For example, if MCPS implements a model which extends current programming by asking all teachers and 10-month school-based staff to work two additional hours per day, the cost will be as outlined below. This is equivalent to adding 46 school days for that school (two hours times 185 days divided by eight=46.25 days). These costs do not account for contractual issues, transportation costs, or utility costs. They also do not account for 12-month employees including administrators who would likely be asked to work beyond the normal workday of others in the same or similar positions. Lastly, the costs do not account for overtime which likely would be incurred when supporting services employees are asked to work additional hours each day.
The school system cost to pay all teachers two more hours for one day is approximately $1.3 million including benefits. Paid out over 185 school days, this is a total cost of $245.5 million across the school system. For support staff other than bus drivers, budget aides, and food service workers, the cost to pay for two more hours of work is approximately $181,000 per day or $33.5 million. The total for both teachers and support staff is $279 million. This works out to be approximately $1.1 million per school if one accounts for an elementary school being smaller than a high school. For 26 Title I schools, this cost would be approximately $29 million.
Models of Year-round Schooling
There are numerous models of year-round schooling. One option is to keep the current school calendar and add summer days while other models consist of taking the current school calendar and spreading days out throughout the year. Almost all school systems that have gone to a year-round model are using models with the same 180 days of school as a traditional calendar. The traditional calendar is divided into 42 weeks during the school year and 10 weeks for the summer, while a year-round calendar breaks the school and non-school blocks into shorter units. According to some studies, the most common of these is the 60/20 model where students attend school for 60 days and then have 20 days without school. However, there are other models including the 45/15 and 90/30 model which is found in many school districts. In addition, year-round education also is defined by the number of tracks the school system implements. A single track is when all students and staff in the school are in school or not in school at the same time. The multitrack, year-round calendar divides the entire student body and staff into different tracks, usually between four and five. The tracks have different schedules so that, at any one time, there are some tracks not in school and others in school. For example, for the four-track calendar, three of the tracks are in school and one is not. So, in the 60/20 model, every 20 days another track goes on vacation while the track on vacation returns to school. The advantage of multitrack calendar is that it expands seating capacity at a facility.
Within each of the models noted above, there are numerous additional factors which can be developed as part of the implementation. For example, how will the "vacation periods" be used? For some school systems, this is a true vacation period while others have implemented enrichment and other learning during those periods of time. Those implementation decisions also have costs associated with them.
Also, each of the models have numerous complexities associated with them that will impact costs. These include everything from day care for young students who may be "on vacation" while older siblings are not, tracking of students, transportation costs associated with changing the schedule, pay agreement for employees whose hours may be changed or contractual issues.
In addition to the year-round calendar models where the number of days of schools remains the same as the traditional calendar, year-round calendars can be created that add days to the year. This is less common and could come in two forms: one is to keep the current calendar for students and add a required summer component, and the other would be to spread out the days as noted in the models above but to also add more days as part of the calendar. In terms of implementation, the first of these would include fewer issues to implement because the school year would remain the same as the current model taking away the issues of child care, transportation, employee schedules, and other factors.
Research on Costs
In 1994, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) completed an analysis of implementing year-round calendars. These can be found in a report titled, "An Overview of Year-Round Education and Its Effectiveness on Achievement and Other Outcomes." Unfortunately, this report does not do a cost analysis. As a follow up to the report, a more detailed report was provided to the superintendent with a cost analysis. This report assessed the costs and savings of running a single and multi-track year round calendar. The study also considered the impact on county agencies including public libraries, recreation, and health and human services. The study concluded that the savings incurred by running multi-track calendars would be partially offset by costs for running year-round school (utilities, transportation, salaries) but the complexities that would occur coupled with the small overall savings did not make the decision worthwhile for MCPS at that time. The study also noted the cost that would be required to provide nurses and school crossing guards as well as the loss of income to the department of recreation. In addition, in 2006, an MCPS workgroup looked at the possibility of year-round schooling for Title I schools. This was a workgroup that did not publish detailed findings, but the results did lead to a decision not to implement at that time. One of the key factors was costs.
Various other studies have been completed on the cost of year-round schools and the numbers vary greatly. One of the studies completed by Hanover Research notes that year-round schooling (without an increase in the number of school days) costs approximately three percent of school expenditures. The research does go on to explain that other costs will need to be taken into account that have not been included such as utilities, transportation, and maintenance. In Virginia, costs eventually led to deterring year-round education. Of the school divisions in the state, all discontinued year-round calendars between 2000 and 2012. Based on a review of the literature conducted by the Education Commission of the States, schools operating on multitracks do experience reduced capital expenditures. However, they do not save with respect to operating expenditures. This does not take into account contractual and other complexities associated with year-round schools that may or may not have costs associated with them.
MCPS Cost of Extended Year or Year-Round Schooling
Because there are numerous models for year-round schooling, the costs will vary greatly depending on the model and components of the model that MCPS would choose to implement. As a starting point, we have provided two different approaches to provide a cost breakdown. Both of these are preliminary and estimates. They do not include the extensive analysis that will be required to truly determine the cost of implementation, but rather provide a guide as to what costs might be. They assume averages in terms of school size and teacher salaries. If the actual school size or teacher salaries at the schools where the model is implemented varies from those used in the calculation, then the cost will be significantly different. Also, costs are only for salaries and do not account for contractual issues such as overtime requirements or other costs such as utilities and transportation. These will need to be calculated once a model is determined.
Cost Approach 1—
In this cost analysis, we used the model where the current school calendar will remain as it currently stands. In addition, 30 days, or six weeks, of school will be added during the summer months. From here, we took the cost of salaries and benefits only to add a school day for the school system. For one additional school day, the cost to pay teachers is $5,769,745 including benefits. The cost to pay support staff is $1,102,956 including benefits; so, the total cost to pay teachers and support staff who are currently in 10-month positions to work one more day would be $6,872,701 including benefits. If we want to add six weeks, 30 days, the total cost would be $206,181,701 including benefits. This is, on average, approximately $1 million (per school). With 26 Title I schools, this cost would be $26 million for the salaries. This calculation does not include costs of transportation or utilities. If we consider that elementary schools are, for the most part, significantly smaller than high schools, these costs will be closer to $825,000 per school or $21.4 million for 26 Title I schools. Another approach to the same model is to use schools at a glance data to determine the average cost per elementary school. For FY 2015, the cost for all elementary schools was calculated at approximately $732 million. This works out to $5.5 million per school or approximately $28,000 per duty day for ten-month staff. If we add 30 additional days, the cost would be $840,000 per school or $21.8 million for 26 Title I schools. Since this includes an increase of days of pay for all positions including administrators, building services, and food services, the cost is higher than the first calculation for this model. When considering the model for Title I schools only, we will need to take into account that staffing at Title I schools is greater than other elementary schools so the amount will be higher than these averages.
Cost Approach 2—
In this model we use Hanover Research findings that costs for running a year-round school calendar are three percent higher than the costs of running schools in a traditional model. This model addresses calendars that keep the same number of days throughout the year as a traditional model, but spread those days out as noted in the models above. The current projected costs for teachers is $767,966,815, and $83,557,352 for supporting services staff for a total of $851,524,167 including benefits. Current projected expenditures for teachers and support salaries in special education are approximately $106 million. The total between K–12 and special education is $958 million. An increase of three percent would be $28.7 million. This is a cost of approximately $145,000 per school. This does not include English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers, other 10-month positions, or the costs of transportation and utilities. It also assumes average salaries and average school sizes. Since elementary schools are smaller than high schools on average, the cost per school may be closer to $115,000 per school. The cost for 26 Title I schools would be approximately $3 million to $3.3 million including benefits. We find a higher projected cost when using Schools at a Glance data. This is because the first calculation of this model does not include ESOL, administrators, building services or food services personnel. According to Schools at Glance data, the average cost per school is $5.5 million. 3 percent of $5.5 million is $165,000 or $4.2 million for 26 Title I schools. These calculations are based on the average cost per elementary school.
While the two models vary greatly, they give a sense of the costs of the different models for year-round schooling. Also, the models do not take into account all costs associated with a change in the calendar. Neither takes into account transportation, utilities, and other costs associated with a year-round model. If MCPS wanted to implement a model of year-round schools, we would recalculate the costs once the model was determined to provide a more accurate estimate of the costs for implementation. In addition, all calculations above are based on averages (average salaries, average enrollment, average allocations). Once a model is determined, the costs will need to be determined based on the actual model and the schools selected to participate. This will account for variances in salary, size of the school, and the staffing allocations for the school(s).