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Arlington Public Schools' World-Class Prices

During the School Board's May 5 meeting, ACTA's president spoke during public comment. Because of Arlington's world-class costs, he recommended the Board contact Governor Warner's office in order to secure one of the efficiency reviews being conducted as part of a new initiative by Governor Warner (D). The ACTA president noted that according to March 2005 data from the Census Bureau published by the Education Intelligence Agency (Adobe required), the Arlington Public Schools rank as the 13th ($13,334; operating expenses only) most expensive school in America. As EIA notes, "Generally speaking, people who spend the money want more of it to spend, and people who pay and collect the money don't want to give more, especially if they lack assurance that the money is being effectively spent." An efficiency review of the Arlington schools would provide that assurance to Arlington's taxpayers. The EIA data is for the 2002-2003 school year. An earlier study by the Clare Booth Luce Public Policy Institute found that "Arlington taxpayers paid more to educate each student in their public schools than Governor Mark Warner paid to send each of his children to private Burgundy Farm Country Day School ($13,555 - $14,225), and almost twice as much as the tuition paid by non-Catholics to attend Arlington's 1500-student Bishop O'Connell High School ($7,900)." The Luce study used school spending data for the 1999-2000 school year, but used total expenditures, which includes not only normal operating costs, but also costs of facilities, debt service, and other program costs. While the Arlington schools undoubtedly do a fine job of educating Arlington's students, it seems they should be able to do so without resorting to world-class prices.

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