The Cost of New Tech

The total cost of implementing New Tech as reported by the HCCSC superintendent was estimated to be approximately $400,000 in franchise fees paid to the New Tech Foundation and $48,000 for computers, all of which were paid for through grants. Further financial obligations are estimated to be $70,000 for renovations for the first year, and $800,000 from the second through the fourth years of the program. According to the superintendent, Huntington County taxpayers will pay $870,000 and after four years, the program will be self-sustaining requiring no additional taxpayer money to continue operations. However, according to a majority of the principals of Indiana New Tech high schools, costs are substantially more than the estimate for HNHS. These following answers are a composite of conversations with every New Tech principal in Indiana between September 24 and October 7, 2009. To see the full text of all questions and answers from this survey, click on the following link. Indiana New Tech questions & answers from principals

Q:  What are the financial costs of New Tech in comparison to the previous curriculum?

  • “Start-up costs are substantial and are coming from the Capital Projects Fund (CPF) – $500,000 and selling bonds in the community. A 1028 hearing was held and there were no objections from the community. There were some grants. The Board hired a grant writer. There is a casino in town and we were able to receive $77,000 from that.”
  • “The start-up costs were $450,000+ over a four-year period. We had to knock down walls and add computers and furniture – $600 apiece times 350, or $210,000 for chairs which partly came from building projects.”
  • “It’s expensive up front, but there are no texts, just lap-tops for each student. Need to purchase pebble software. Maintenance fees are unknown.”
  • “Significant costs involved. One expense we did not expect was the school did not have electrical capabilities to handle computers. Tables were needed at a cost of well over $1million. With professional fees, the total cost was between $3 to 4 million in addition to paying New Tech franchise fees.”
  • “Once it is up and running, it should be the same cost. The staff to student ratio was 28:1 on traditional schedule and is 25:1 on New Tech. We had no grants other than $50,000 for exploration from the governor.”
  • “It was very expensive. Professional training and franchise fees were $400,000.”
  • “Costly, expensive for us, but the cost is starting to level off. The superintendent said it was a ‘very expensive proposition.’”
  • “Quite a lot more. We do receive grants.”

Q:  What are the start-up expenses and how much is covered by grants?

  • “$50,000 in grant money from governor, but that amount should be more now.”
  • “$500,000 in start-up expenses and $300,000-350,000 came from community organizations, such as Tech Point Foundation, a 501c3. There were no grants.”
  • “No grants other than $50,000 for an exploratory look at New Tech.”
  • “$400,000 for the franchise fee. A fundraiser collected $300,000. $1.5 million for building and $2.6 to 2.7 million for renovations. For the desks and furniture, we scavenged from anywhere in the corporation.”

Q:  Once the grant money is no longer available, how will the program be sustained?

  • “Through a $2 million bond, then $2 million from CPF.”
  • “We have guaranteed funding from the district through next year, then corporate grants to pay teachers, building expenses and computers.”
  • “The general fund will have to pick up after the grants run out.”

New Tech Committee discusses needs

Prior to the HCCSC Board of School Trustees voting on New Tech, a New Tech Committee was formed which included teachers and administrators. The exact language of the New Tech Committee’s purpose is:

New Tech: Evaluate and measure the capacity of HNHS to replicate the New Tech instructional model with respect to Program, Curriculum, Technology, Community Partnerships, Professional Development, Staffing and Facilities.

The minutes from these meetings contain a recurring theme from its members for more money and more space, far exceeding the high school administration’s estimate as presented to the School Board by millions of dollars. Yet, these minutes were not shared with the HCCSC School Board prior to the vote to adopt New Tech. To view these minutes and an address to the School Board and school administrators regarding these financial concerns, click the following links. New Tech is only phase one of revamping and remodeling the entire high school at a cost of $8 million dollars to the tax payers. HNHS Future Phases, Small Learning CommunitiesNew Tech Committee Minutes 11-3, 11-12-09New Tech Committee Minutes 12-02-09, 12-21-09 address to board

A Financial Quagmire?

Last year, state funding to schools was cut by 3%, and cuts are expected to be an additional 5-10% for the 2010-2011 school year. New Tech, unlike any other curricular change, requires significant and costly physical changes to the high school, an estimated $870,000 upon completion. With full knowledge of these budget cuts and the state of the economy, the School Board voted by a 4-3 margin to approve this costly project.

Upon approval, the Board emphasized that the HCCSC administration must stay within its proposed budget. During the first year, $70,000 has been approved for renovations. The remaining $800,000 in renovations will be spent over the following three years. If after these renovations are initialized the administration determines additional funds are required, the Board will face a dilemma. In this poor economic climate, if the School Board should decide it cannot support extra funding for New Tech, the cost of returning the building back to its original form will be far greater than the cost of the initial renovations. This is because renovating the school for New Tech requires removing walls. Restoring the school to its original form would require building several walls, which is far costlier than removing them. On the other hand, if the Board approves additional funding for New Tech, it is simply digging a deeper hole for the taxpayers. With each additional year of New Tech, the costs of restoration will increase. Once the School Board approves a request for additional funding, it becomes more and more difficult to turn down future requests. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is nearly impossible to put it back. In addition, any grants received for New Tech would be required to be paid back.

During a recent School Board meeting, the HCCSC administration reported that $28,000 for electrical work was performed somewhere in the district. It wasn’t until a School Board member asked where it was spent that the administration revealed that the $28,000 was spent on rewiring the high school for New Tech. If the School Board is to ensure the HCCSC administration stays within its proposed budget, they must be diligent in requiring the administrators to keep a separate accounting for all New Tech expenditures and to make certain there is accountability for staying within the New Tech budget.

Will New Tech attract industries to Huntington County?

At the HCCSC School Board meeting of October 26, 2009, the high school administration implied that Huntington County would have an advantage in attracting new corporations and industries in contrast to a community without a New Tech high school. The school board asked: “Are there any cases in which a corporation located in a New Tech community citing the New Tech educated workforce as one of the main reasons for locating there?”

A written response from Adam Lowe, a representative of the New Tech Network in Indiana, stated: “Samsung officials cited Manor New Tech outside of Austin, Texas as a reason for choosing Manor, Texas to locate their sole semiconductor fabrication plant outside of Korea (a $4 billion investment, with 900 jobs).”

The facts do not support this statement. Samsung made the announcement to move Manor, Texas (a suburb of Austin) in April of 2006.


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