The Vidalia City School System spends less per pupil than most school systems but gets better results, according to a year-long study.
"When we look at this question of how strategically are you using your resources, I have been doing this for more than a decade in districts across the country and I've never seen anyone who had the strategic elements in place that they have in this district. It is impressive to the point that are doing a video to show that it can be done," reports Stephen Frank with Education Resource Strategies.
The company is evaluating how school systems use their people, time and money to improve student performance. Frank briefed the Vidalia school board on its findings at Tuesday night's school board meeting.
"We've studied a variety of districts in the state of Georgia and across the country. We look for evidence of cost effective resource use and more than any other districts we've studied, we saw Vidalia doing that again and again.
"For example,the students struggling the most in Math and English were given more time. That seems simple but it's really hard to achieve for many districts.
"They were spending more on their core classes than their non-core classes.
"Their 9th grade English classes were being invested in at a much higher level than their 12th grade electives. Things like this we saw over and over again where they were able to focus on their priorities and achieve gains," Frank noted.
Frank says the Vidalia schools have made gains despite spending an average of $1,600 per pupil less than the average district in Georgia.
The company told the school board in order to keep moving forward, it needs to cut non-performing teachers and find a way to hire back more instructional coaches to help faculty handle the load.
"Over the past several years they've had to cut their expert support to the point where they now have only one instructional coach for over 80 teachers. That's a level that not sustainable. They need to figure out a different model or way to increase that investment to maintain the excellence they have achieved," Frank said.