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Give Them The Money, And They Will Spend It

In this case, it’s the Arlington Public Schools (APS).

We’ve growled many times about the high cost of the Arlington County Public Schools, e.g., most recently here, here, and here. And we growled on March 19, 2010 about the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement between the two Boards known as the Revenue Sharing Agreement.

However, it’s rare for anyone with insider knowledge of Schools or County operations admitting that cost is the least of the bureaucrats priorities. In the case of the Schools, though, we came across the following gem on page 2 of the May 2010 “Year End Report of the Budget Advisory Commission.” The report is agenda item E-3 of the June 3, 2010 School Board meeting:

“During the development of the FY 2011 Budget there were many cost-saving discussions regarding less-favored programs and suggestions for cutting around the edges to enable lower-cost delivery of existing programs. When unexpected revenues materialized late in the budget process, however, many of these potential cost savings ideas were abandoned. However FY 2012, and potentially FY 2013, may be even more challenging than FY 2011 due to costs associated with employee compensation, OPEB and VRS, among other cost increases. Therefore, all potential cost savings should remain on the table and be considered.” (emphasis added)

The staff response, contained in a follow-on report, agenda item E-4 of the School Board’s June 3, 2010 meeting, to BAC said, “The Superintendent and staff are committed to continuing to explore all areas for possible efficiencies.”

Rather than see those cost savings in FY 2011, perhaps, staff expects to see bigger cost savings when APS undergoes the School Efficiency Review process managed and funded by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget (DPB). For the record, ACTA has been urging APS to undergo a School Efficiency Review ever since they were instituted by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D) when he was governor.

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