Long County Schools fared well on the state’s latest financial efficiency reports, averaging 3.5 stars out of 5 using a Georgia Department of Education scoring system that links school system spending data to scores on the College and Career Ready Performance Index.
The system narrowly missed a 4-star rating, coming up a tenth of a point short, according to Long County Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters, who said the 3.5 rating shows the county school system is “a good steward of taxpayer money.”
Waters, in his eighth year as superintendent, discussed the numbers with school board members at the group’s Jan. 9 meeting. He told them they’re getting “bang for their buck.”
“We’re spending less and scoring higher,” he said. “And while we realize we’re not doing too badly as far as the results we’re getting, we always want to improve. We want to get 5 stars. That’s what we’re working toward.”
The 2016 financial efficiency reports are based on the last three years of both academic scores and “per pupil spending” and include ratings for both the system as a whole and for individual schools.
In Long County, the financial efficiency report rated Long County High School, Long Middle School and Walker Elementary. Smiley Elementary wasn’t rated because it is a K-3 school and students don’t take certain tests used in CCRPI scoring.
Long County High scored highest in the district, earning a 74.6 CCRPI score and a 4-star rating. Long County Middle’s CCRPI was at 69.4 and its rating was 3.5, and Walker Elementary was at 64.4 and 3.5 stars. As a district, Long County has a “per pupil expenditure” of $6,930 - which doesn’t factor in federal spending. All told, the county spends an average of $7,308 per “full time equivalent” student.
But the fast-growing district, which currently has 3,360 students and is in the process of building a new K-8 school, is still among the state’s smallest in terms of money.
That $7,308 per student expenditure was sixth lowest among the state’s 180 public school systems.
The state average in spending per student is $9,020.
The funding Long County got per student was even lower among the state’s 180 public school districts.
Long got $7,547 in tax revenue per student in 2016, the fourth lowest in the state. Georgia’s average tax revenue per student in 2016 was $9,245.
Broken down further, Long County property owners footed less than 20 percent of the system’s per pupil expenditures in 2016. Of the school system’s $25.4 million tax revenue, only $4.4 million came from local taxpayers. Another $19 million came from the state and nearly $2.1 was from the federal government.