Sunday, December 21, 2014
Did Joplin R-8 Board pay $103,000 to take one test?
With a bare minimum of discussion, the board approved spending $103,000 for keyboards for the iPads being used by eighth graders and at one of the elementary schools.
If the keyboards were being used to facilitate more in-depth writing assignments, that would be one thing.
C. J. Huff Administration officials acknowledged during the meeting Tuesday night that the money was being paid so the students could take the Common Core tests that will be given next spring (though, of course, the words Common Core were not used since they seem to think calling it "new standards" will fool us). With the status of Common Core in Missouri up in the air, the board may very well have paid out a six-figure sum to take a one-time only test.
An article earlier this week at Politico noted the efforts that are being made to fight Common Core testing in the Show-Me State.
The article reviews the recent restraining order Common Core opponents were able to get against the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is providing the tests, which are scheduled to be given for the first time this year.
Since new Missouri standards are being written, there is no guarantee that there will ever be another Common Core test, or that whatever standards Missouri uses will require all testing to be done online.
Taking that into consideration, the Huff Administration could have opted for some minor inconvenience and conducted eighth grade testing on a different day, perhaps importing laptops that are being used in other schools for the testing.
Certainly there was no desperate need to pay $103,000 for keyboards for iPads, which were a questionable expenditure in the first place.
At a time when the district has just had to borrow $45 million to cover $8 million of might-as-well spending and $5 to $12 million of extras on the new buildings that to this point do not appear to have been approved by FEMA, it seems like it would have been a wise time to have delayed spending another $103,000.
To paraphrase the late Sen. Everett Dirksen, you spend $100,000 here and $100,000 there and pretty soon you're talking about real money.