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Monkey See, But Monkey No Do

The Revenue Sharing Agreement (RSA), first approved for the FY2002 budget year by Arlington's County and School Boards, essentially puts the school's budget on autopilot. The RSA provides the schools with a set percentage (currently 48.1%) of tax revenues whether it's needed or not. It provides the Superintendent no incentive to manage efficiently. Our most recent growl about RSA was March 6, 2005 when we noticed a column in the Fredericksburg paper, which opined that 'constructive disagreement' between school boards and their local governing bodies was a good thing.

In order to convince their legislative bodies, government bureaucrats like to trot out a list of other localites doing what they themselves want to do, i.e., a "monkey see, monkey do" mentality." Thus, it was heartening to read in Thursday's Newport News Daily Press that the Gloucester County, Virginia, county board of supervisors had "nixed" a proposed revenue sharing agreement between the two bodies. The paper reported supervisors "were leery of losing flexibility at budget time." According to the paper, "A report prepared by county staff showed that over the past eight years, the amount of county tax revenues dedicated to schools has fluctuated from approximately 60 to 68 percent." The paper also noted that only a "handful of localities" in Virginia have these such agreements.