Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] socioeconomic status of staff

From: Jeff Collins <>
Date: Thu Oct 30 02:55:00 2003

Hi y'all,

As a founder of a soon to be new school struggling with the reality of
staffing and money, I can tell you the reality that we are faced with.

Our budget calls for the following staff levels based on enrollment.

    * At 20 students, we plan on having 3 staff, 1 of which we can pay
      $10 an hour, at this level of enrollment the school will lose
      $40,000 a year. (We may actually pay an additional staff member
      and lose more money. The idea being that the additional staffer
      will help accelerate growth).
    * At 30 students, we plan on 3 staff, 1 of which we can pay $10 an
      hour. At the level we almost break even. (Same comments as above
      about the additional paid staff position).
    * At 40 students, we plan on 4 staff, 2 of which we can pay $10 an
      hour. At this level we have a $600 profit (like we won't find a
      way to spend that! :-) ).
    * At 50 students, we plan on 5 staff, all them finally get paid $10
      an hour. One of the staff members may or may not contribute their
      salary back to the school, but that is a personal choice.
    * We then add a new staff member every 15 additional students until
      95 students, which is our building capacity.

We have set up the budget so that the necessary expenses (mortgage,
insurance, advertising, the above mentioned salaries etc.) get paid
first. At a certain level of enrollment we start of have "excess"
money. This money gets allocated on a percentage basis to increased
wages (65%), emergency fund (5%), paying down the mortgage (10%) and
others I can't remember right now.

We are very lucky that we have 2 staff members who will be able to work
without a salary for a while. Without this, we probably wouldn't have a
school. We are also lucky that one of the staff members who needs to be
paid has a working husband so the $10 an hour we can afford to pay her
is sufficient a while.

The last staff member most closely demonstrates the level of committment
it takes to work in a Sudbury school for a young person. She graduated
from NYU with a degree in education in 2002. For her senior project,
she designed a Sudbury School (I believe she worked with a woman who did
do an internship at SVS - but I could be wrong about this). She
discovered our founder's group and joined it while she was still in
college. When faced with the possibility of having to live on $10 an
hour, her reaction is, "there isn't any way I'm not going to be there".
Please note, she is not being hired because of her degree or her
background. She is being hired because she has put in over almost 2
years of time and effort getting the school started, she clearly
understands the philosophy of the school and she clearly has what it
takes to be a positive role model for the students. It won't matter to
us if she didn't have a high school diploma.

We have other people who have inquired about staff positions (some of
whom are actually on this list). We present the financial realities of
the school to these potential staff members. If they can find a way to
make the financial realities work, then they still need to understand
the inherent risk they are taking when applying for a job in a
democratic organization. That reality being that they need to be voted
in and that at some point in the future they can be voted out.

The reality is that $10 is barely a living wage in our area, I don't
believe is it a living wage in most of the rest of the country. Would
we like to pay staff more? Absolutely, and some day (when the mortgage
gets paid) we can and we will. Will we ever hire people off the streets
based on any academic credentials or without a long involved and
difficult hiring process? NO, not happening. See Bruce's e-mail for
why. Does this exclude people from our potential job pool? Yes. We
don't like it, but until someone comes up with a better idea, that is
the reality.

Received on Thu Oct 30 2003 - 02:54:19 EST

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