Cost versus performance

A $370,400 program expansion was stalled after a 3-3 vote of the Clarkston School Board on Oct. 12.
The program – Fast ForWord – uses computers to help students improve communication skills, as well as thinking, reading, speaking and following directions.
Currently used in North Sashabaw Elementary, Clarkston Junior High, and Renaissance High School, the expansion would include the remaining schools in the district – six elementary schools, Sashabaw Middle School and Clarkston High School,
costing $370,400.
Trustee Joan Patterson, who along with Vice President Susan Boatman and Trustee Rosalie Lieblang voted against the expansion but not because they didn’t like Fast ForWord.
‘This is a good program,? Patterson said after asking the board to table it for two weeks. ‘But I want to make sure we aren’t going to be taking anything out of the great programs we currently have in place.?
She said two weeks would give her time to study the program and talk to teachers using it, before voting. Patterson shared she was concerned about the cost, especially after the state government announced they would cut $165 per student.
Trustee Barry Bomier disagreed and didn’t want to wait another two weeks to vote.
‘We will see the dividend in return,? he pointed out. ‘I want to move forward right now and not to delay it.?
Secretary Cheryl McGinnis agreed.
‘I don’t want another child to lose out on the opportunity this program will bring to all the students.?
McGinnis added she has seen first hand parents from surrounding communities chose Clarkston schools because of the treatment they will receive and Fast ForWord program.
North Sashabaw Principal Debra Latozas said during a Fast ForWord presentation in front of the board on Sept. 28, students were more eager to come to school and work with the program.
‘I believe the program will pay for itself,? said Superintendent Dr. Al Roberts, by attracting new students to the district and improving students? skills by a half to one-and-a-half years.
The vote to approve the expansion was split 3-3, with Treasurer Joe Armstrong absent and Fast ForWord was tabled until the next board of education meeting on Oct. 26.
The district would pay for the program from different funds – $60,000 from ARRA IDEA funds, $30,000 from remaining Durant funds and $274,540 from the general fund.