The following letter to the editor was submitted by former School Board member Ed Fendley.
Peter Rousselot is right to argue for increased school funding, but wrong to claim that there is a systematic bias against local funding for Arlington Public Schools.
What matters for students and teachers is the actual amount of funds provided each year.
By this measure, support for our schools has deservedly and substantially grown in recent years. By any recognized standard, APS is one of the best-funded systems in the nation.
School-budget funding is poised to rise again if the County Board approves the County Manager’s proposed 4.7% funding boost for APS or, hopefully, an even greater amount.
But instead of considering actual funding and actual needs, Rousselot focuses on the irrelevant statistic that school operations as a percent of the overall county budget is lower than in some previous years.
By this flawed metric, the U.S. military is also grossly underfunded. Military outlays as a percent of the federal budget are smaller today. than in the 1950’s or 60’s — never mind that actual defense spending has sharply increased in real dollars,
It is in the interest of Arlington Public Schools to focus on the actual amount of funding received from the county, not the percent this represents of the county budget. This is especially the case because in years when county revenue is static or declining (yes, it does happen in Arlington) our schools would otherwise be at risk of underfunding.
In the midst of rising enrollment and increasing educational needs, the Arlington schools budget is a legitimate area of discussion. But this should be done on the basis of real numbers, not the irrelevant figures that Rousselot presents.
Ed Fendley served on the Arlington County School Board from 2006-2010 and is a founder of the Arlington Egg Project.
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