Business of education: A tale of two elementary schools

Filed under: News |

Kallene Casias is principal of Gold Camp Elementary School, which was built in 1997 at a cost of $4.4 million.

Most businesses are judged by objective outcomes.
Does the service or product have a market? If so, are those services/products efficiently delivered, allowing the business to make a profit and continue as a going concern?
Is the business healthy? Is it adequately capitalized, appropriately located and serving a stable or growing market? Does it have strategic plans in place that will enable it to survive changes in its market?
Now, consider schools as businesses.


Buena Vista Elementary School cost $36,000 to build in 1911.

Buena Vista Elementary School and Gold Camp Elementary School are less than three miles from each other, as the crow flies, but the challenges facing their respective administrators are worlds apart.
Buena Vista serves a fading working-class neighborhood on the west side. Gold Camp serves a prosperous, growing neighborhood between Cheyenne Canyon and Bear Creek Park.
Gold Camp’s service area is growing, its facilities are modern and efficient, and it can concentrate on improving the quality of its services. It dominates its market, is unchallenged by charter schools and benefits from school choice.
Buena Vista is facing the multiple challenges of an aging, functionally obsolete physical plant, a fading, disadvantaged neighborhood and a shrinking population of school age children. It has been forced to do what threatened private businesses must routinely do: change, improvise and take risks just to survive.
Both schools are in the business of education. And while their business plans for continued growth and sustainability are quite different, both are focused on providing the best service possible to their primary consumers — students.
John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com