Upper Arlington

What is the cost of 'good' schools?

To the editor:

As I read the information at EducateUA.org, I had to challenge my long-held assumptions about "good" schools and property values.

My thinking was that it was always a good idea to support the school levy as it benefits the students, the community and our home values. Upper Arlington schools spend $15,172 per student while Columbus City Schools spend $14,967 per student, essentially the same amount per student. But when you look at the data closely, you see a real difference in these two districts' ratings and property values.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, Columbus City Schools have a rating of continuous improvement. UA schools have the top rating of excellence with distinction. The Dublin and Olentangy districts have also received the same ODE rating of excellent with distinction and spend $13,013 and $9,465 per student.

Zillow reports that the average Columbus home is depreciating by 0.8 percent while UA home values are appreciating by 3.3 percent. So you can see from the data that "good schools" do have a correlation to strong property values.

Where I would like to challenge the assumption is to ask, "How much money does it take to have a 'good' school district?" Here in UA, we pay the highest per-student cost than any other school district in Franklin County, and yet we have the same rating as Dublin and Olentangy, who spend far less.

Like any organization with a budget, there comes a time when you have to ask, "Can we be better stewards with the money we have and still do a great job?"

For now, I think it is OK to say no to Issue 51 and try and get costs down.

Kris Turkelson
Upper Arlington