Supes get schooled on school

By From page A1 | December 03, 2012

El Dorado County has 67 public schools spread over 15 independent school districts and they served 29,166 students in the 2010-2011 school year. That and much more information was compiled by the County Office of Education and presented to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors Nov. 13.

County Superintendent of Schools Vicki Barber, Ed.D and Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Meyers gave supervisors their annual report card on education in the county. In general, local students are doing “exceedingly well, clearly far outperforming the rest of the state as a whole,” Meyers told the board. The measuring stick is the Academic Performance Index which represents a range of  scores administered as California Standard Tests under the State Department of Education.

The total cost of all that learning is a bit over $250 million of general fund money for all county students from kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the COE’s “Public School Facts 2011-2012″ brochure. Additional funding of nearly $4 million provides specialized services from a number of specific grants.

Barber said she was “grateful for the passage of Proposition 30. If it had failed, we could have lost about $450 per student per year.”

School revenue is largely supplied by local property tax, at 39 percent. State aid is 29 percent while “other state aid” such as grants or lottery money makes up 17 percent. Local dollars such as transportation taxes provide 8 percent, while federal funding makes up the balance with 7 percent.

The fact sheets hold a load of information about the county in addition to the school-related data. For example, 182,019 people populate El Dorado County’s 1,711 square miles. The human density is 106.4 per square mile. The median age is 42.5 (2010 Census). The same Census data show a median household income of just over $66,000. The average salary of the county’s 1,346 teachers was $61,752 last year.

At 72 percent, whites make up the greatest number of enrolled students. Hispanic/Latinos account for just over 17 percent, while a category of “Multiple Ethnicity/No Response” shows 4.1 percent. Asians represent 2.9 percent, Filipinos are 1.3 and African Americans constitute 1.2 percent. Native American/Alaska Native students are 1 percent and Pacific Islanders round out the total student population with 0.3 percent.

In addition to teachers, 101 administrators and 130 Pupil Services Staff and counselors provide the educational leadership. Bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers account for 1,079 school jobs while 310 paraprofessionals and classroom aides provide a range of other services. Substitute teachers and other temporary personnel add another 3,000-plus staff throughout the county’s school systems.

Slightly more than 25 percent of the county’s teachers hold a Master’s or higher degree. Countywide, teachers have an average of just over 18 years of teaching experience. Compared to five years ago, there are nearly 200 fewer teachers today. Also 3.3 percent are first or second-year teachers while in 2007-08, that figure was 10.8 percent.

The 2010-2011 enrollment totals show 29,166 K-12 students. That number is down 344 from the 2009-2010 school year but up 564 since 1999-2000. Buckeye is the county’s largest elementary school district with 5,073 students, up about 1,250 since 2000. Rescue Elementary is up by about 1,000 in the past 10 years to 4,065.

Districts in the loss column include Gold Oak and Gold Trail. The former has approximately 260 fewer students, from 809 in 2000 to just 550 this year. Gold Trail lost about 113 — sliding from 654 to 541 during the same period. Lake Tahoe Unified School District registered the largest dip in enrollment  throughout the decade. From a high of 5,779, the district has dropped to 3,878. The overall population of South Lake Tahoe has decreased more than 10 percent since the 2000 Census.

The El Dorado Union High School District with four comprehensive high schools and a number of alternative programs has the highest number of students in the county with 6,966. That is down by about 100 from last year but up nearly 600 over the decade.

Two western slope districts had what could be crippling drops in enrollment since 2000. Indian Diggings Elementary in the south county declined from 25 to 18 students while Silver Fork Elementary in Kyburz dropped from 17 to 12. Pioneer Elementary also in the south county grew by a handful in the past year but has lost 171 since 2000. Pioneer now has 397 students.

Black Oak Mine, the K-12 district serving the Georgetown Divide and north county has also experienced a significant loss of enrollment compared to 10 years ago. The district has been reduced by 345 students, from 1,981 to today’s 1,636.

High school graduation rates have gone up steadily throughout the county over the past five years from 86.8 to 89.6 percent. The figures statewide for the same period  have basically remained static at approximately 80 percent. Local Scholastic Aptitude Test scores for Critical Thinking, Mathematics and Writing fall in a range from 530 to 567. Each category comes in approximately 10 percent better than statewide averages. In last year’s High School Exit Exam, the county success rate was 91 percent in both English/Language Arts and Math. The statewide scores were 82 and 83 percent respectively.

Students in grades 2nd through 7th are garnering Advanced or Proficient levels of achievement in both language arts and mathematics at a rate of approximately 70 percent throughout the county.

Dropout rates  have decreased from 3.7 percent five years ago to a current 2.5 percent. Again the county is doing better than the state’s 4.6 percent which is only slightly down from the 2007-08 school year.

For more data on Career Technical Education, Advanced Placement and Honors programs, Charter School programs and Special Education and on the state of education in El Dorado County, check the Website at

Chris Daley

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