On the state’s scale ranging from a low of 0.5 to a high of 5, the Muscogee County School District received 2.5 stars in the second annual measurement that compares academic performance to spending.
Harris County received 4 stars and Chattahoochee County 1.5 stars.
According to the Georgia Department of Education’s news release about the 2016 Financial Efficiency Star Ratings, 1.1 percent of the state’s school districts earned a 5-star rating, 4.4 percent earned 4.5 stars, 12.8 percent earned 4 stars, 19.4 percent earned 3.5 stars, 17.2 percent earned 3 stars, 20.6 percent earned 2.5 stars, 12.8 percent earned 2 stars, 6.7 percent earned 1.5 stars, 5 percent earned 1 star, and no school district earned 0.5 stars.
That means 54.9 percent of the state’s school districts have a better financial efficiency rating than MCSD.
The formula for the Financial Efficiency Star Ratings was changed during the past year, so the results from this 2016 report can’t be validly compared to the inaugural report for 2015, the GaDOE said in its news release. Nonetheless in the 2015 report, MCSD’s rating was 2 stars, Harris County’s was 3.5 stars and Chattahoochee County’s was 1.5 stars.
Comparing MCSD’s rating this year to the districts in Georgia’s other second-tier cities, Bibb County (Macon) and Richmond County (Augusta) also received 2.5 stars and Chatham County (Savannah) 2 stars.
The ratings are based on the average per-pupil spending from the three most recently completed school years and the school district’s College and Career Ready Performance Index, which is the overall score that represents the district’s academic achievement on the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, the state’s standardized tests. The Ledger-Enquirer reported the 2016 CCRPI scores last month. So this year’s Financial Efficiency Star Ratings are based on data from 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16.
The Ledger-Enquirer didn’t reach the superintendents in Muscogee, Harris and Chattahoochee counties for comment Friday, but the GaDOE allowed each district to give an official response to its rating. Those responses are included in the report. Here is Muscogee County’s response:
“The District continues to make a concerted effort to ensure funds are directed to provide those programs and services that boost overall achievement for all students. Representative achievements include: 1) Increased the District's General Fund Unassigned Fund Balance from 32 days of operations in 2012 to 64.9 days in 2016. 2) Financial Efficiency Star Rating increased from 2.0 for FY 2015 to 2.5 for FY 2016.”
The Harris County and ChattCo school districts didn’t submit an official response to the GaDOE.
According to the data in the state’s report, Muscogee County’s CCRPI, which uses a 100-point scale, increased from 68.5 in fiscal year 2014 to 69.0 in FY2015 and 70.5 in FY2016, while its per-pupil expenditures decreased by 5.6 percent from $8,805 in FY2014 to $8,315 in FY2015 and increased by less than 1 percent to $8,325 in FY2016. That’s a total increase of 2 points in the CCRPI with a total decrease of $480 (5.5 percent) in per-pupil expenditures.
In Bibb County, the CCRPI decreased from 62.2 in FY2014 to 60.8 in FY2015 and increased to 61.4 in FY2016, while the per-pupil expenditures increased by 5.2 percent from $8,380 in FY2014 to $8,819 in FY2015 and decreased by 3.1 percent to $8,544 in FY2016. That’s a total decrease of 0.8 points in the CCRPI with a total increase of $164 (2 percent) in per-pupil expenditures.
In Chatham County, the CCRPI decreased from 67.2 in FY2014 to 65.4 in FY2015 and 64.5 in FY2016, while the per-pupil expenditures increased by 1.7 percent from $8,957 in FY2014 to $9,111 in FY2015 and by less than 1 percent to $9,158 in FY2016. That’s a total decrease of 2.7 points in the CCRPI with a total increase of $201 (2.2 percent) in per-pupil expenditures.
In Richmond County, the CCRPI increased from 60.9 in FY2014 to 62.4 in FY2015 and decreased to 57.9 in FY2016, while the per-pupil expenditures increased by 1.1 percent from $8,130 in FY2014 to $8,219 in FY2015 and by 2.4 percent to $8,417 in FY2016. That’s a total decrease of 3 points in the CCRPI with a total increase of $287 (3.5 percent) in per-pupil expenditures.
In Harris County, the CCRPI increased from 77.4 in FY2014 to 79.6 in FY2015 and 83 in FY2016, while the per-pupil expenditures increased by 6.8 percent from $7,595 in FY2014 to $8,115 in FY2015 and by 1.9 percent to $8,272 in FY2016. That’s a total increase of 5.6 points in the CCRPI with a total increase of $677 (8.9 percent) in per-pupil expenditures.
In Chattahoochee County, the CCRPI increased from 60.4 in FY2014 to 67.4 in FY2015 and 75.9 in FY2016, while the per-pupil expenditures increased by 7.2 percent from $9,101 in FY2014 to $9,754 in FY2015 and by less than 1 percent to $9,838 in FY2016. That’s a total increase of 15.5 points in the CCRPI with a total increase of $737 (8.1 percent) in per-pupil expenditures.
Asked what changes were made to the Financial Efficiency Star Ratings formula from 2015 to 2016, GaDOE spokesman Matt Cardoza told the Ledger-Enquirer some school district officials complained that the 2015 formula unfairly included their expenditures on students in residential treatment centers and payments to charter schools, while the districts that don’t have those expenses were given an advantage. So the 2016 formula excludes those expenditures, he said.