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Be Careful When Awarding Laurels

A year ago, we Growled several times about the Arlington School Board’s spendthrift ways (including  here and here), and awarded the School Board a laurel for promising an efficiency review at some future date. However, a year has gone by, and the Board had not yet requested the review. At the March 1, 2007 School Board meeting, we told the School Board that 19 Virginia school districts had undergone these efficiency reviews, and again called for the Arlington School Board to mandate one as part of its approval of the FY 2008 school budget. Earlier today, we noticed there are 22 school districts with completed effiency reviews listed at the Virginia Department of Education's website (Adobe required).

Before the start of its regular meeting this evening, the Board held a “public hearing” on the Superintendent’s proposed FY 2008 budget. Tim Wise, ACTA’s president, was one of four public speakers, and once again he called for an efficiency review of school operations. He noted that if the net savings recommended for the Alleghany County Public Schools could be achieved in Arlington, savings of $2 million annually could be achieved in the operational budget and over $3 million could be achieved through “shared resources.” With the cost per student set to increase above $18,000 for FY 2008, Wise said that it is possible that Arlington’s annual savings could be significantly higher.

After Wise spoke, Libby Garvey, school board chairman, announced that indeed there would be a call for an efficiency review. Sometimes, I guess, citizens just need to GROWL loud and often. And we’ll wait for the results of the efficiency review before awarding additional kudos to the School Board.

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