Letter: Mathews school board needs to cut expenses
It is budget time again in Mathews County, and our county has some hard decisions to make. The board of supervisors will have to find a way to pay the bills with a shrinking amount of tax revenue. Times are tight for all of us and our county is not exempt from the shrinking value of our dollar.
With this in mind, we have to review all county expenditures and assure that our tax dollars are being well spent. Last year, the board of supervisors handled the budget issue very well and I hope they will do the same this year. Mathews County’s largest expenditure by far is our schools. With over half of the county’s revenues going to the school system, it is one of the primary places in which cost savings are going to have to be found. In tough economic times like we are experiencing now, it is prudent that we look to get the most out of each dollar spent.
In researching how our school system compares to similar sized student population school systems (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics/reports/), Middlesex County’s school system is closest in size with a student population of 1,191 to Mathews’ 1,212. Middlesex County’s school system has outperformed Mathews County school system in SOL scores in the majority of testing criteria for eighth through 12th grades. Further comparison showed that Middlesex County had 534 students enrolled in grades 8-12 with 40 instructional positions, which equals out to 13.4 students per teacher. Mathews, on the other hand, had 527 students enrolled in grades 8-12 with 59 instructional positions, which equals 9.0 students per teacher. In the teacher’s aide department, Middlesex employs 18.18 aides per 1,000 students while Mathews employs 44.73 aides per 1,000 students. In the area of administration, Middlesex employs 3.75 per 1,000 students, while Mathews employs 5.77 per 1,000 students.
If the number of teachers, aides and administrators were indicative of student performance, Mathews should be leading Middlesex in all SOL test scores.
The school board needs to see how it can utilize the staff more efficiently and cut positions that are redundant. If they need a program to view that is outperforming us with fewer teachers, fewer assistants and fewer administrators, I’d suggest viewing Middlesex County’s school system.