November 1, 2014

Cost

Commissioner Mike Ritz has embarked on a mini-crusade to convince the suburbs that their elected leaders are willfully misleading them about the cost of a municipal school district.  Here are the facts:

  • State guidelines set the minimum contribution required from a municipality desiring to operate a municipal school district.  Those guidelines specify a minimum contribution of an amount equal to $0.15 on the property tax rate.  ForGermantown, that equals about $2.15 million dollars, less than 4% of the proposed school budget.
  • The study commissioned by the City ofGermantownasked this question:  Can we replicate the level of service currently provided by Shelby County Schools with the minimum local contribution?  The answer was an unequivocal yes.  The study concluded that aGermantownmunicipal school district would have less bureaucracy and therefore less overhead.  The state and county funds allocated to our students will cover 96% of the total cost of delivering SCS level services.  The City ofGermantownhas proposed a 0.50% increase in the local sales tax to raise the required $2.15M of funding.
  • Ritz claims thatGermantownhas not addressed the costs associated with special needs children.  The draft budget for our school district includes $5 million of funding for special education, a level equivalent to current SCS spending.
  • Ritz claims thatGermantowncannot possibly be more efficient than SCS.  Experience across the country shows that smaller school districts are more efficient and more effective.  Ritz’s comparisons to the SCS budget are apples to oranges.  Ritz includes Federal funds in his analysis.  The consultant’s report excludes Federal funds.
  • Ritz claims thatGermantownresidents will not accept SCS levels of service.  This may be true.  Our citizens may decide that smaller class sizes, more extensive AP offerings, expanded dual enrollment, or foreign language at lower grades are good investments.  Any spending beyond the minimum requirement will be at the COMPLETE discretion of the Germantown Board of Aldermen.   This board has an excellent track record in evaluating value. Germantowndoes not have the least expensive government inShelbyCounty; we have the highest value services.  No state, federal, or local regulations will force us to spend more than the minimum local funding requirement.  We WILL have the opportunity to spend more where we CHOOSE to do so (an opportunity NOT available within a consolidated district).