Thursday, October 30, 2008

Race and the School Levy

Race is the topic that Daytonians are too polite to talk about. Since yer humble host isn't a Daytonian, this blog will touch that local third rail

Lets look at the 2007 levy results by precinct, from this excellent map by the Dayton Daily News (lets hope the DDN continues to provide equally good, detailed cartography for the upcoming election):

One notes a clear division between east and west side, with clusters of the most intense votes being no-votes in Old North Dayton, Southeast, and east Dayton east of Tals Corner. There is a also a cluster of no vote precincts in Harrison Twp, north of the city.

The yes votes didn't rise to the intensity of the no votes, except in a scattering of precincts, (three of those had housing projects at the time).

The map tracks nicely with this 2000 census map of block groups, showing % black block groups.

The whitest areas voted most intensly against the levy.

Some statistical ground truth:

38% = School age white population (5 thru 17)(2000 Census)

24% = % of DPS students who are white (latest ODE school report card)

This gives you an order of magnitude. Note that DPS includes Harrison Township, which might dilute the white %.

60% = % of voting age population (18 and up) who are white (2000 Census).

Now things have changed since 2000 and Dayton may have become less white, but its interesting that the demographics favor white voters, if they vote on racial lines. This also assumes that white registration and election participation reflects the voting age population, which may not be the case.

DPS is a predominently minority district, and whites appear to participate in it as a lower rate than their % of the school-age population. So perhaps the perception is that it's not their school system, and the vote on racial lines against being taxed to support a system their kids don't attend, or if they do, are themselves minorities.

Then there is the issue of discipline. I blogged on how Dayton has very low discipline rates compared to other urban districts. And there was anecdotal evidence from various DDN comments strings that there is lax enforcement in some cases where white students are bullied by blacks. Again, this is just anecdotal. Yet heresay can also influence perceptions, and perception is reality when it comes to lax discipline irrespective of race, based on the statistics.

So whites had a lot of rationalizations to vote against the 2007 levy (including that it was so high vis a vis the relatively low incomes of city residents).

What Will Happen With the 2008 Levy?

The current levy is less than what was requested in 2007, so there will automatically be less resistance for all homeowners to vote their pocketbook. And one can anticipate record voter turnout from the black community due to the Presidential race, which might have a coattail effect for things down-ticket. If so the big voter turnout and reasonable millage could trump a racially motivated no-vote from the whites.

But it will be interesting to see the geography of the vote, no matter the outcome.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dayton Public Schools Expenditures as % of Total

Continuing the investigation into expenditures, the ODE also provides total expenditures and % of total for the four expenditure categories.

% spent on instruction is maybe a good measure on how efficient the schools are, meaning less on overhead and more on instruction more on actual teaching.

In this area, Dayton ties with Columbus at 50% of expenditure spent on instruction.

Looking at how the various districts compare with overhead (building maintenance and admin), support services, and instruction, Dayton is up with Youngstown with the highest overhead.
Breaking this out by type of overhead, Dayton comes out highest with building maintenance, nearly 25% of all expenditures, and well above the median for urban districts (not including Youngstown, which is also an outlier).

Of the costs seen here building maintenance is the most out-of-line. What would it mean to reduce the building maintenance % to the urban district median?

The delta is considerable. The savings could buy around 400 more teachers (depending on fringe benefits and pensions) assuming a $66,000 average salary. This saving could re-staff Stivers as well as buy equipment and such for the school.

Not sure what all this means for the levy. The % spend on instruction is low compared to other districts, but the cost per pupil is high, and the cost per pupil for instruction is actually slightly above the median for urban districts.

The big issue seems to be building maintenance, which is driving higher costs, crowding out instruction and maybe support services.

Dayton Public Schools: A look at Cost per Pupil

Since Dayton Public Schools has another levy on the ballot yer humble host decided to take a look at school expenditures in comparison with other large urban districs to benchmark things a bit.

I look at two ways to measure expenditure; cost per pupil and % of total expenditure. I compare Dayton to the city schools in the 7 largest cities in Ohio:

  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • Columbus
  • Toledo
  • Akron
  • Youngstown
  • Canton

And I compare different types of expenditures as classified by the Ohio Department of Education. All the data is derived from the ODE data warehouse reports page.

First, cost per pupil. This is derived by dividing total expenditures by attendance. Dayton has one of the highest costs per pupil for the center city districts.

The data warehouse report has this broken out by four classes of expenditure. Two overhead expedintures (administration and building maintenance), two support services, and instruction. As is to be expected instruction has the highest cost per pupil. Dayton is slightly higher than the median cost per pupil for instruction.

For the two overhead categories, Dayton is actually a bit below the median for administrative overhead, so the urban legend of the DPS being "fat" here is probably incorrect, at least in comparison with other urban districts.

The big difference, which Dayton shares with Youngstown in in building maintenance, where Dayton is unusually high compared with the other urban districts.

LinkOne thing to note is that higher cost per pupil doesn't necessarily equate to better academic performance. A previous post compared these same districts, and some of the lower cost/pupil districts actually outperform Dayton.

Roads to Wright-Patterson: The I-675 Era

All of the previous highway planning was based on connecting Wright-Patterson to Dayton, following a east-west orientation. The first southward traffic planning was the beltway proposal.

This was to change with the planning for I-675.

I-675 was originally intended to provide a bypass for I-75 through traffic to avoid congestion in central Dayton. But the interstate system was an artifact of the Cold War, partially justified as a defense highway system supporting military mobility and civilian evacuation. Since a major military installation was in the area highway planning had to consider this.

The original recommended realignment didn’t do this too well, nor did a subsequent local proposal. But a notional alternative sited between Wright & Patterson fields (with access from an interbase road, or via Route 4 from I-75) might have worked, providing both military access and a bypass for I-75 through-traffic.

Instead planning went in another direction. Suburban interests began to drive traffic planning via the Transportation Coordinating Committee (TCC). As we’ve seen here and in previous posts traffic planning in the 1940s and 50s was dominated by cross-town and arterial/radial highways connecting central Dayton to the suburbs, driven by the central city remaining a high-employment center, as shown in this map:

..with Wright-Patterson remaining in the early 1960s, as in the late 1940s, one of few suburban concentrations of employment.

By 1960-61 traffic to the base appears similar to the 1940s. Big traffic streams between Dayton, Wright-Patterson, and Fairborn, seem to indicate that a lot of the base workforce was still living in the city and closer suburbs (but also recognizing that Fairborn was becoming more suburban to Dayton, too).

The flow map shows volume at half-size within the circle, so closer-in highways are fairly congested, like Smithville, 3rd, etc. Perhaps what was really happening was a suburbanizing workforce was using the road grid in Kettering and Mad River township ( like Smithville and Woodman) to travel north to Airway and Springfield/Route 4 to get to the base.

In any case a great snapshot of area traffic as it transitioned to a suburban civilization

A key document is the lost ad-hoc traffic study from 1962, which is only known via press reports. Reports indicate that the study found an “immediate need for a limited access facility”, from the base to Indian Ripple road, closer to Grange Hall Road and the county line. Here’s the recommendation diagrammed on the volume map.

Perhaps the forecast or assumption was the base workforce would continue to suburbanize during the 1960s & 70s to the east and south of Dayton. The “limited access facility” would be a cross-town (really cross-suburb) highway to the base, relieving traffic on suburban surface streets. The swing around Fairborn was needed to make the “limited access facility” part of the interstate system, and would be less complicated then routing between the bases. Besides, by this time, WSU was being located on the former “Area D” site, adding further complication to a between-the-bases alignment.

In 1965 the final I-675 alignment was set, and interchanges planned.

The phasing was to build the ‘driveway” first, not connected to the interstate system, which is a pretty clear indication of planning priorities at mid-decade. The shaded yellow areas are areas that would be accessible to the base via the first phase of I-675. I also show Huber Heights too, as it appears traffic planning was accounting for that suburb as a de-facto base housing area via improved country roads, like Chambersburg Road.

As design proceeded the military began to engineer interchanges to connect the base to the interstate, in this case for the Wright Field cantonment.@

The end result was indeed a driveway to suburbia. As shown in this aerial of the connection between Patterson Field cantonments and the interstate, the interstate replaces the old “Route 4 Expressway” as the driveway to the base; Route 4 connected the base to Dayton, while the interstate connects the base to suburbia.

One can consider the now lightly-used Route 4 as an obsolete highway, built to serve commuter traffic that has went elsewhere. Where elsewhere is a good question because, unlike the 1940s study, there is no modern mapping showing concentrations of Wright-Patterson personnel.

What there is, though, is some data showing the military and civilian base workforce from the 1930s to the 2000s. What’s noticeable is the fairly steady Cold-War era number, hovering between 20,000 and 30,000.

So what has happened was highway planning followed this population as it shifted out of the city into suburbia (maybe a chicken-and-egg thing there, too).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Roads to Wright-Patterson : Postwar Planning before I-675

Military planning for road improvements continued in the early postwar period. The focus was to smooth traffic flow on the Route 4 expressway.

The following pix is a great illustration of the problem, looking west and showing a bottleneck at Huffman Dam. One can see the line of cars queuing up for a right turn to the Huffman Dam road and ultimately Valley Street. By the light in the pix one can tell this is the afternoon, so one is seeing a reverse commute situation, with very light traffic outbound from Dayton.

The military planners proposed a set of interchanges on Route 4 to correct bottlenecks, including one for an interbase road connecting Wright & Patterson Fields. These improvements would have transformed Route 4 into a true limited access expressway.

The same planning effort also produced this graphic showing commuter numbers, locations, distances and travel times for base personnel.

The graphic was in support of increased housing since Dayton had overcrowding and a severe housing shortage in the late 1940s. This forced base personnel to travel long distances to look for a place to live. The numbers can also be used to demonstrate that Dayton and close-in suburban areas (Northridge and Overlook) remained a big source of commuters to the base; 48% commuting in from Dayton city.

Around the same time a consultant was doing an arterial highway study for Dayton, an extension and expansion of wartime planning for a cross-town expressway for US 25 (more on that later). I’m not sure if it was the city, county, or predecessor to ODOT that commissioned the study, but it does provide a fascinating glimpse at commuting at the very dawn of postwar suburbia.

The study recognized Wright-Patterson as a traffic planning issue, and provided this map to show where in Dayton Wright-Patterson personnel lived. I’ve color coded the map to show the census tracts with the highest concentration of W-P personnel…

…which seems to have been in Grafton Hill, Five Oaks, the northern part of Dayton View, and the neighborhoods between downtown and the Great Miami.

Lesser concentrations are also colored, but W-P personnel lived all over town.

The surprise here is the large concentration northwest of downtown along Salem and Main streets, perhaps a leftover from the era of nearby McCook Field. This neighborhood was shown in a 1930s housing study as an area of white-collar workers, presumably including officers, engineers and scientists working originally at McCook and later Wright Field.

It is sort of ironic considering that this area, today, would be unthinkable for base personnel, as it’s turning into a new black ghetto.

The center -city concentration just west of downtown was probably overcrowded, representing a future market for suburban housing. This area was razed in the early 1960s via urban renewal.

Since fully 48% of base personnel lived in Dayton there would be a lot of traffic to the base. as proven by this traffic volume map. The volume diagrams unfortunately end at the Greene County line, but one can infer that the volumes would continue eastward to the base and Fairborn.

The study put Wright-Patterson in context with other industrial and commercial areas and employers as a major outlying employment center (the other was the Frigidaire plant in Moraine), showing the three cantonment areas.

The result of the study was a proposed extension of the Route 4 expressway into Dayton as a limited access highway parallel to the northern fringe of the Mad River bottoms. The extension would cross the Mad River and connect with the wartime Route 4 expressway at Huffman Dam. This would have provided commuter access to the base from central, north, and northwest Dayton, the major concentrations of base personnel living in the city.

Taken together with the proposed military interchanges between Huffman Dam and Fairborn this would have been Dayton’s longest limited access expressway when complete.

A limited access highway was eventually built as planned between Dayton and Huffman Dam, connecting to the wartime Route 4 expressway. But, as we know, no interchanges were built between Huffman Dam and Fairborn on the old Route 4, (renumbered as OH 444.) Route 4 was eventually extended along the Mad River beyond Huffman Dam to I-70 as a divided highway without interchanges, part of a later regional radial highway plan.

Postwar Beltway Planning

Population was growing east of Dayton between 1932 and 1952, with this dot map showing the increase (each dot = 40 people, and areas seeing growth shaded in red). Most of this was 1940s growth…wartime and early postwar… on pre-Depression plats, as well as a cluster of wartime trailer parks. There is very little postwar subdivision activity shown here.

The 1952 Harlan Bartholomew plan sited a beltway around and through this area, incorporating the proposed and existing Route 4 Expressway. The beltway was to be an at-grade expressway, with interchanges only at important intersections.

This diagram shows how the beltway and Route 4 expressway was sited between existing subdivisions and the proposed base “Area D” (housing, hospital and education facilities), making use of the vacant Mad River corridor into the city, and providing access to the central part of Beavercreek. One can also see the start of Page Manor, a m ixed military/civilian project intended to help relieve the postwar housing shortage.

Airway Road would have been extended further to the west through Wright View, and an inner loop was sited roughly where Harshman and Woodman Drives are today. An assumption was that population would de-concentrate to suburbia from overcrowded housing in Dayton, with the beltway and highways in place to provide access.

This remains a fairly convincing proposal compared to what came after.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fall Almanac V

Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let loose the wind in the fields.
Bid the last fruits to be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
press them to ripeness, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will not build one
Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long
will stay up, read, write long letters,
and wander the avenues, up and down,
restlessly, while the leaves are blowing.

Autumn Day -Rainer Maria Rilke

This poem has four translations from the German. This seemed the most direct.

Rilke seems to portend winter, the ending of things or hibernation of sorts. too late now if one hasn't prepared. Perhaps this weather portends winter. too as we have moved into wintery times, with the broken sky, windswept, as the cold comes in over the Midwestern plains from Canada, to our valley.

(if you enlarge pix you can see some people on the trail. The hill in the distance is starting to show color)

The first freezes, two nights (or early mornings) below freezing, the first frosts, no days over 70. The next warm snap will be Indian Summer ("two southerly days"), though thats a moveable feast of sorts and you never know when it was until it's over.

Starting to see some good soaks, with that hard rain that settled in on Friday, over an inch.
...and, deeper into the forest, more color showing, but still a nice green understory.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Roads to Wright Patterson I: To 1945

The I-675 story flagged the significance of Wright-Patterson AFB in driving development decisions. The next set of threads will take a closer look at the base and how it drove infrastructure planning, as a prelude to a closer look at Fairborn and Riverside.

The oldest part of the base came into being around the same time as the Conservancy Districts’ Huffman Dam retention basin, so the Conservancy drove early road and transportation re-routes as much as the base. The first re-routes were of Springfield Pike east of Riverside village. The actual route of the relocated Springfield Pike is unclear, but it did bypass Huffman Dam and pass under the re-routed Big Four and Erie Railroads.

A bridge across the railroads for Kaufman Avenue and a road atop Huffman Dam was also built at this time, with the dam road being the 3rd crossing of the Mad River bottoms out from Dayton.

Also shown is the Wright Brothers Monument and park, which came into being in the 1930s, as a draw for visitors from the city.

Later reroutes came during WWII base expansion, with the closure of Yellow Springs Road out from Riverside.

This aerial photo from a news clipping shows the 1933 adjustment of Springfield Pike through Riverside village, being the start of the destruction of this area by highway construction. In the distance one can see Huffman Dam and the early 1920s re-route of Springfield Pike around the dam.

The relatively new Wright Field cantonment area can be seen in the distance. This was the relocated McCook Field, and was probably drawing “reverse commuters” out from Dayton who used to work at McCook.

A ground level pix of the relocation of Springfield Street. One of the rows of telephone poles in the distance is for the interurban railroad, which provided passenger train service through the area.

During the ‘teens & ‘twenties Dayton grew eastward, up and over Tait's Point and Huffman Hill. The Third Street streetcar line ended at the same location as the todays trolleybus loop, but Third Street itself was extended over the hill to Yellow Springs Road, opposite the Wright Field airfield, with stub-outs for future streets. The Springfield Street realignments are also shown.

One can see some early subdivision activity in this area, east of Smithville Road, probably driven by 1920s speculative boom. The Depression intervened and most of these plats wouldn’t be built-out on till WWII and the postwar era.

World War II really made the base as a major employer for Dayton. Base expansion drove road relocations and improvements.

The expansion of the Wright Field airfield forced the relocation of the Third Street Extension, which was routed eastward to an endpoint opposite a new wartime housing and military supply area midway between Fairborn and Wright Field. On the western end (shown in this pix) was war worker housing in Overlook Mutual Homes.

The Third Street Extension, which would later be renamed Airway Drive and Colonel Glenn Highway, also provide a second access to Wright Field, relieving the traffic a bit on Springfield Pike.

Springfield Pike was drastically reconstructed as a quasi-expressway from Huffman Dam to Fairborn, with limited access since it passed through the base. This four lane divided highway is actually somewhat historic as itwas one of the first two such roads in Dayton (the other was US 25 north), and would have been Daytonians’ first experience with expressway driving (but without interchanges).

This new “Route 4 Expressway” helped with reverse commuting from Dayton to the Patterson Field part of the base.

WWII development east of Dayton can be seen as an early form of suburbanization, as the government constructed a mix of barracks and civilians and military housing between Wright & Patterson Fields and in Fariborn.

There was a lot of private sector development of various types, too, including the mostly jerry-built Wright View area. One can see how the Third Street Extension and the Route 4 Expressway served this busy area. One should note, too, the role of the Huffman Dam road, which connected the war worker housing areas and trailer parks on Valley Street to the base.

Wartime planning for the base was seeing a big expansion due to the somewhat cramped Wright Field, which would have made Burkhardt Avenue/Kemp Road a relocated Airway Drive. The planning also included a beltway to serve the various wartime housing projects and private sector development east of the city, connecting it to roads into and around the base and to the US highway system at the US 25 traffic circle in Northridge.

Though not shown here, this early planning for both bases was already envisioning true limited access for Route 4 and Airway Road, with early cloverleaf and half-cloverleaf interchange designs. This would be further developed in early postwar planning, subject of the next thread.

Transit to Wright-Patterson

Modern day Wright-Patterson has weak public transit connections. In the past the base was better served.

The base was adjacent to two mainline railroads, the Big Four and Erie, and the oldest parts of the bases were designed around railroad supply. Yet the more unusual transit connection is with interurban railroads.

The interurban line serving the base went under different names: Dayton, Springfield & Urbana, Ohio Electric, and Cincinnati & Lake Erie. This was the line used by the Wright Brothers to reach their flying field off the old Springfield Pike.

WWI era Patterson Field (at that time Wilbur Wright Field) and Fairfield Air Depot was served by Ohio Electric, which provided freight as well as passenger service to the base, actually coming on base via a branch line. Since the base was a flying school, presumably there was a lot of passenger traffic into Dayton when the student flyers had weekend leave.

The line was relocated along with Springfield Pike and the mainline steam railroads as part of the Conservancy district work on Huffman Dam, but remained in service up to 1940.

The 1927 Wright Field construction actually did make provision for passenger rail service via its gate construction, designing one of the gate-houses into a waiting room for the train, documented via this HABS/HAER drawing.

A big what-if is what if the interurban survived into the wartime era. The experience of the Chicago North Shore line was that wartime boom in passenger traffic (due to gas and tire rationing) kept the line alive into the postwar era, until it finally abandoned service in the early 1960s.

What makes the North Shore somewhat equivalent was that it had a close connection with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, and, like the CL&E and Wright-Patterson, had a station on post, used by Navy personnel, especially for weekend liberty to Chicago or Milwaukee.

The North Shore had a fairly good commuter trade, too, which was enough to sustain the road well into the postwar suburban boom.

With the demise of CL&E there was still a transit need during wartime. The CL&E franchise was converted into bus operations, and it was a bus line that provided wartime commuter service to Wright and Patterson Fields, Riverside, and Fairborn.

Anecdotal evidence indicates bus service continued into the postwar era. The Dayton end of the line was at the former interurban station at 3rd & Patterson, which was torn down and rebuilt as this streamlined bus station, with bus parking to the side and maybe rear (this was also a good walkable location for people living out east but working in the Webster Station industrial area)

So a bit ironic that a relic of the wartime Wright-Patterson and Fairborn experience...taking the bus to and from the base and eastern suburbs… is actually in downtown Dayton.