The library at Model Lab School, on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, was teeming with activity Thursday afternoon. About one hundred teachers, parents, student teachers, and EKU Teacher Education Program candidates (several from my class) heard a team from AdvancEd present an exit report following their accreditation visit to the school this week.
The outside examiners told the group some things I suspect they already knew, commending the school for,
· Exemplary student achievement results
· High Performance Standards
· Creative/Innovative Instruction
· A strong sense of community
· Strong personal relationships among the parents and faculty
· School Pride and observable passion about the school
· Engaging Classrooms
· Positive and Respectful Interactions with students
Under normal conditions, such a report would be cause for great celebration. But that was simply not the mood in the room. Instead, there was a palpable air of concern.
Following the meeting, about half of the teachers left, and as many more parents, including several prominent EKU faculty members came in, and a second meeting of 100+ began; a meeting of the school’s SBDM Council.
The topic for the day was the fate of Model Lab School.
The Model Laboratory School was established more than a century ago to educate P-12 students while providing clinical field experiences for preservice teachers at EKU. Its existence contributed significantly to the success of the EKU Teacher Education Program over the years. Today, as the only laboratory school remaining in the state of Kentucky, Model Lab must appear to the uninformed as an anachronistic vestige; a holdover from a bygone age. But those familiar with the new 21st century standards for high-quality teacher preparation programs understand that Model’s existence, and excellence, has given EKU a distinct advantage over other Kentucky colleges struggling to implement the new requirement for candidates to complete 200 field hours (before student teaching) and to provide master teachers for student teaching.
It turns out good ol’ Model Lab School is ahead of its time. Indeed, Western Kentucky University recently opened the Gatton Academy, and the University of Kentucky is planning to open a high school academy for 600 students. P-20 collaboration is quickly becoming a mutually beneficial necessity under the mandates of Senate Bill 1 and 21st century teacher accreditation standards.
The parents’ concern on Thursday sprung from a series of events which has left almost everyone on campus uncertain about the future of EKU programs, and many people’s jobs. The concern began in mid February when new Board of Regents Chair Craig Turner directed campus leaders to find $23 million in the budget to "set aside" so that the new president would have some resources to implement a (as yet undetermined ) set of changes to the university's business plan - our own little sequester. To make recommendations, President Whitlock formed the Strategic Budget Reallocation Task Force. Membership on the Task Force includes a cross-section of Deans and Vice Presidential types under the notion that these are the people who can best see the campus as a whole and who best understand the budget.
That may be true, but faculty members (who are represented by one individual) have expressed serious concerns that the group is not able to see the whole campus, because they will not be able to see the bloated administration that supports their own departments. Dr Whitlock has acknowledged before the Faculty Senate that the last decade has seen a marked increase in administrative hiring. It is a national trend.
Across campus, departments and colleges are debating the relative merits of…pretty much everything…and there is a certain amount of finger-pointing (mostly at other people’s programs) as possible places where reductions might occur are discussed.
In reaction to that spirit, a KSN&C reader reported this week that parents were talking about holding a Rally to Save Model Lab School. The rally idea was prompted by an email sent throughout the College of Education by the Dean, which contained a laundry list of possible cuts to be discussed by the faculty on Monday, March 4th. On the list, was the idea of doubling of Model’s tuition. Parents also heard that a couple of Deans (not from Education) had suggested closure. One Model parent, speaking anonymously, confirmed that some parents had contacted the Richmond Register with their concerns, and that a rally was being discussed. She also said that an unnamed Madison County Schools official had threatened to refuse EKU Teacher Education candidates if EKU closed Model and overcrowded the local schools.
Model Lab School Principal James Dantic opened the meeting with data and a disclaimer. The disclaimer was that he didn’t really have any information to share about the fate of Model. In fact, in the room at the time was a Dean who serves on the Task Force determining the reductions, and who doubtlessly knew more about the issues than anyone present. She could offer no more than her intent to defend the school during Task Force discussions.
Dantic’s data was eye-opening. In an average month Model hosts EKU teacher education candidates to the tune of 1,827 hours. That’s an average of 457 hours per week from 843 unique visitors. I thought we had a lot of visitors when I was Principal of Cassidy School in Lexington, but that was nothing compared to Model. Thirty-five EKU classes use Model for their Applied Learning Experiences (field work) and that doesn’t count the EKU Co-op students, America Reads and work/study students. Fifteen members of the Model faculty teach EKU courses while they collaborate with 16 different departments in teaching, service and scholarship.
Beyond that, many Model students attend EKU right now, and more will attend EKU after graduation. Over the past 5 years Model students have taken 340 courses at EKU.
Of Model’s $5.2 million budget, more than $3.5 million (44%) is supported by state (SEEK) and federal (IDEA) funds. Tuition from Model parents adds $1.8 million (34%). EKU provides 22.1% of Model’s budget or $1,168,197 – which apparently, some on campus believe is the amount that Model is over budget. It is not. It is exactly the budget Model is given to operate on, and like all departments, it’s down in recent years. Not so long ago, Model’s operational budget (what we call M&O) was $400,000. That is down to $178,804.
Dantic argued that compared to other university departments, Model is a bargain at $1.1 million, with $4.1 million of its budget (over 75%) coming from external sources. He expressed the concern that with Dr. Whitlock stepping down and the upcoming change in the EKU Presidency, that there may be “a void in terms of who’s standing up for us…Changes are occurring quickly and parents might be interested in communicating their concerns to the Task Force,” Dantic said.
The School Council reviewed the data and discussed the situation, ultimately deciding to send to Provost Janna Vice a letter outlining their concerns. (Once drafted, the letter will be posted to the school’s website.)
After the meeting, clusters of parents hung around to discuss what else might be done, while Dantic fielded individual questions from parents, and EKU teacher education candidates asked me about their futures in the program if Model were to close.
This Fact Sheet is from Model:
Model Lab School and EKU Update 2/28/2013
2012-2013 Model Budget Overview
Budgeted Expenditures Model Income
Personnel: $ 4,874,240 (92.4%) State SEEK/federal IDEA: $ 2,309,150 (43.8%)
M & O: $ 178,804 (3.5%) Parent Tuition: $ 1,574,697 (29.9%)
Technology: $ 139,100 (2.6%) Parent Fees: $ 220,275 (4.2%)
Textbook: $ 80,175 (1.5%) TOTAL: $ 4,104,122 (77.9%)
TOTAL: $ 5,272,319
Difference / EKU’s Portion: $ 1,168,197 (22.1%)
Model Support of EKU students*
Number of EKU student hours facilitated for four-week time period: 2,228
Average hours per week: 557
Number of distinct EKU student “check-ins” for four-week time period: 1,244
Average check-ins per week: 311
*Data from January and February, 2013.
Students from the following classes currently use Model for Field Experiences:
CDF 741, CDS 541, EDF 103, EDF 203, EDF 349, EDF 349R, EDF 349Q, EDF 446,
EDF 490, ELE 322, ELE 362, ELE 445, ELE 446, ELE 496, EME 465, EME 490, EMG 349, EMG 430, EMG 445, EMS 349, EMS 349R, ESC 490, ESE 490, ETL 800, ETL 803, OTS 421, SED 104, SED 325, SED 349, SED 375, SED 401, SED 518, SPA 321, SWK 131, SWK 210
Additionally, Model places students for the following experiences:
CO-OP, AMERICA READS/WORK STUDY, VOLUNTEER HOURS
Collaborating Departments in Teaching, Service, and/or Scholarship
Biological Services, Exercise and Sport Science, Special Education, Family and Consumer Sciences, Foreign Language and Humanities, Curriculum and Instruction, Communication,
Nursing, Recreation and Park Administration, Psychology, Occupational Therapy, Music,
Justice and Safety, Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work
Model Faculty who teach at EKU
Lisa Corn – ELE 519/719 Sheila Lippman – ELE 362
Karen Baum - ELE 365, EME 586/786 Charlene Park – ESE 573
Jennifer Green – EME 442, SPA 101, SPA 102 Denise Discepoli – ELE 361
Lindsey Heath – MAT 202, MAT 303 Marla Muncy – ELE 519/719
Stacy Wilson – AST 135, SED 504/704 Sarah Shaffer – ELE 490, EMS 855
Ellen Rini – EDF 319, COU 826, COU 827, COU 856
James Dantic – HIS 202, EMS 830, EMS 842, EMG 810
Cheryl Wright – SED 504/704, SED 104, SED 375, SED 577/777
Cindy Reeves – CDS 273, CDS 541/741, CDS 373, CDS 374, CDS 474