Study: Communities in Schools good for economy
By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — From both an economic and educational standpoint, Communities in Schools of Rowan County is having a positive impact on the county.
A recent study conducted by ICF International shows the dropout prevention organization has a benefit to cost ratio of 6 to 1, meaning every dollar invested in the program creates $6.10 economic benefit to the community.
The payback period, the amount of time it takes to break even, is 10 years.
“Local graduates will have returned the investment by the time they’re 29 years old and will be net contributors to the economy for the rest of their working lives,” Vicky Slusser, the organization’s executive director, said in a press release.
The study calculated the economic impact by weighing the benefits of the increased high school graduation rates attributed to Communities In Schools, subsequent higher earnings by these graduates and social and taxpayer savings based on the students’ increased academic achievement.
It cost more than $424,400 during fiscal year 2011-12 to run the nonprofit, which has eight part-time and three full-time staff members.
More than $139,000 of that comes from local backers including private donors, churches, businesses, the Rowan-Salisbury School System, Rowan County United Way and the Blanche & Julian Robertson Family, Margaret C. Woodson and Salisbury Community foundations.
The state and national Communities in Schools offices provide the remaining funds.
“Communities in Schools of Rowan is a classic example of win-win,” Dr. Ron Turbyfill, the organization’s board chairman, said in a press release.
Turbyfill said for a “modest investment,” the nonprofit provides site coordinators to work with students at two high schools, two middle schools and four elementary schools in the Rowan-Salisbury school district.
“Citizens of Rowan can claim their win by reducing student remediation costs,” he said. “The eight Rowan-Salisbury campuses served by CIS-Rowan claim their win by having high-quality community volunteers who serve as tutors and mentors.
“Most importantly, the thousands of (Rowan-Salisbury) students win as they are given the extra help they need to find success in school, graduate high school and join our community as educated, productive adults.”
The organization served more than 26,800 students last year, Slusser said. About 500 of those students were case managed by a site coordinator who provided additional guidance and resources.
Slusser said 100 percent of eligible seniors graduated.
The agency also had success in helping students move to the next grade. Eighty-eight percent of elementary, 99 percent of middle school and 86 percent of high school students in the program were promoted, Slusser said.
The school system saw its lowest dropout rate in a decade during 2010-11 with 214 students leaving school for rate of 3.36 percent. Those figures for 2011-12 have not been released.
“Communities In Schools is a proven solution, delivering cost effective results and significant economic impact for the citizens of Rowan County” Slusser said. “The economic future of our children, our families and our community depends on us continuing to address the dropout crisis here in Rowan County.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.