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The Right Note: More Recess and Less Homework?

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

The Virginia General Assembly has passed legislation to allow local school districts a little more time to let elementary kids go out and play. Count me as someone all for it with one big caveat. If it means more of the schoolwork is going to be coming home to be done in the evenings, then please don’t do it.

I have written about ending the practice of assigning homework into some point in middle school. It not only causes unnecessary stress at home, but several studies have found it may not be doing anything academically for our kids.

Since we are on the subject of what goes on in the classroom, it is time for the next progress report on the math done by Arlington County on per pupil spending.

The School Superintendent announced that under his proposed budget per pupil spending would come in at $19,235 for the 2019 school year for the anticipated enrollment of 28,027 students.

When you pull out your calculator and divide $636.7 million by 28,027 students, you arrive at $22,717 per projected student in Arlington Public Schools. That’s a difference of about $3,482 between total and reported per pupil spending.

Arlington’s reporting of per-pupil spending does not take certain spending into account. Common sense should call for greater transparency.

When you compare Arlington’s per pupil spending with other school districts in the region using the Washington Area Boards of Education formula, we are currently spending $1,121 more than the second highest spending jurisdiction in Falls Church. Based on our current enrollment, spending the same per-pupil as Falls Church would save taxpayers about $30.2 million this year.

Every jurisdiction’s needs are different, and in Arlington, we have set high expectations to go along with our increasing enrollment. But, there are two points to be reminded of as the School Board moves through the budget process.

First, please stop leading people to believe the number you publicize is total per pupil spending when it’s not. Second, when you are able to spend 6 percent more per child than the next highest jurisdiction in the region, it may be a challenging job for a lot of reasons, but not for lack of resources.

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