For credibility, Fayette Board of Education must benchmark school costs

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I wanted to add a few comments to the subject of the Fayette County Board of Educations’ $229.4 million budget. I’ve read all the articles over the past few weeks and the response from Superintendent Jody Barrow.

I too am concerned about the dramatic increase in headcount and the fixed costs that come with it. My concern is with regard to the “value” the additional headcount brings and how is it measured and how do we compare to other counties.

If the headcount adds substantial value, then maybe it is a good move. As a customer I am willing to pay (taxes) for something that has tangible value when done in a cost-effective manner.

My main concern is how is the BOE and the superintendent measures this “value” and how do we compare to other similar performing counties?

For example, if student graduation rates, number admitted to college, etc., are key metrics, how does Fayette County compare to similar schools in terms of money/student, teacher to student ratio, etc.?

If Fayette County spends more per student to achieve the same/similar results, then is the school system getting the best return or value?

This is what is called benchmarking. I would hope the BOE and the superintendent are looking to the best schools in the state (in whatever metrics you decide) and comparing budgets, budget per student, class size per teacher, etc.

I am mindful that you can always find one statistic that makes someone’s point. However, if you look at three to four similar statistics, you can get a more complete story.

I know it might be hard to compare and benchmark, but I would think our BOE and superintendent can do some fair comparison in terms of effectiveness.

If someone generated this data, I think it would be easier for the community to understand how well the money is being managed to get a return of exceptional value.

Michael Chrzanowski

Peachtree City, Ga.