Recent Post Highlights Data Errors and Key Misprint
My recent post Arlington School District Proposes Lowest Tax Levy Increase in Decade — NOT exposed the fact that Arlington School Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks used incorrect tax levy data to reach an incorrect conclusion in his 2011-2012 Budget Draft 2 presentation of February 15, 2011. This incorrect conclusion was that the 2011-2012 budget proposal represented the lowest tax levy increase in 10 years. In reality, it represents the second lowest tax levy increase.
As an aside to my main point, I made light of a ridiculous misprint on a key summary page, which unintentionally stated
Lowest proposed tax levy in 10 yearsinstead of
Lowest proposed tax levy increase in 10 years
The proposal actually represents the highest proposed tax levy in 10 years, and almost certainly the highest in the history of the Arlington School District, not the lowest.
My Contacts with Arlington Officials
Before posting, I worked closely with a senior Arlington official to correct some of Arlington's past tax levy data, though we were not able to resolve disparities from 2000 to 2004. After posting, I emailed Hicks, to be sure he would have direct access to my post.
Revised Presentations Continue Misstatement
Hicks has now presented two revisions of the February budget draft, Arlington Central School District: Community Budget Forum on March 12, and Arlington Central School District: Budget Study Session on March 15. Happily, both these revisions provide the partial correction to Hicks' chart of tax levy increase history. This partial correction is enough to establish the correct conclusion that the proposal represents only the second lowest tax levy increase in a decade, not the lowest. This correct conclusion is hinted at by the fact that the word “second” has been prepended to the main summary page bullet item, which in both of this week's drafts reads
Second lowest proposed tax levy in 13 years
So “second” was inserted, and “10” was changed to “13”, but the key term “increase” didn't make it into either revised draft. So this twice-revised summary statement is still as wrong as it ever was.
Stakeholders May Be Mislead
I'm sure that Arlington's Board of Education and readers of this blog will easily understand the intended meaning of Hicks' key summary statement, despite the misprint. But in my view, many of Arlington's less sophisticated stakeholders who read only Hicks' summary page will not catch the blunder, especially since it's now been repeated in three successive presentations. It's unfortunate that Hicks has been unable to correctly communicate a key feature of the proposed 2011-12 budget — even after three tries.