Sunday, May 24, 2009

Scholarship numbers/amounts reflective of local growth?

An article in the May 24 edition of the Wisconsin State Journal tracks locally funded scholarships by area school district. Sadly, Sun Prairie doesn't fare so well.

The article summarizes:

When adjusted for class size, Stoughton High School landed on top. Last year, it
had enough local scholarship money to award the equivalent of $670 to each
graduating senior. Sun Prairie High School was at the other end with the
equivalent of $90 available for each graduating senior.

Lisa Bollinger, an assistant principal at SPHS is quoted as follows:

Sun Prairie High School, which finished last in per-graduate money, has grown so fast in the last few years that it’s been hard for the local investment in scholarships to keep up. The city’s rapid growth also means many people are new to the area and may not yet have a strong attachment to community institutions, she said, and the district’s educational foundation has chosen to focus on funding innovative classroom projects.
So is it that residents and businesses have yet to build a strong bond with the community? Or is it that the residents are strapped for cash? If it's the former...shouldn't the school board be playing a role there? Or a better role? It would seem that one of the reasons we pay for Tim Culver's Rotary club membership is to help "work this room" so to speak. Is that vein tapped out as well?

The article infers that the Sun Prairie Education Foundation is spending their funds on classroom innovations. Is it time to revive that those two parts of the District Mission statement?

We are committed to maximize each student's learning by:

· Partnering with parents, community, & businesses;

· Inspiring lifelong learning for all students and staff;

It's a little easier to be inspired when, on average, you are awarded more than $90 towards "lifelong learning" when even a small state school costs over $10,000 per year in tuition and living costs.

It also appears, compared to other districts that we're taking the scholarship money that is available and funding a very small segment of the senior class. Hedging our bets, are we?

For instance, if you do a little math, about 102 Stoughton graduates received , on average $2,100 each. Now THAT puts a little dent in tuition! On the other hand, about 60 Sun Prairie seniors were awarded, on average, $355 each. That MAY cover book fees for ONE semester..

Once again Sun Prairie...there may certainly be more to this story than meets the eye. But (A) we ain't seein' it, and (B) this data doesn't exactly put a nice glossy finish on Sun Prairie.