Saturday, May 14th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Among the best in the state
  Five Mercer County schools have been recognized as the most efficient in the state in providing non-instructional services.
Coldwater, Fort Recovery, Marion Local, Parkway and St. Henry school districts were selected for efficiency in various non-instructional categories by Ohio Education Matters, a non-partisan state public policy research organization that reviewed data from the 2009-2010 academic year.
The schools are considered Type 2 districts - rural, low-poverty and low to moderate median income districts with small student populations - by the Ohio Department of Education.
In the transportation category - the total cost for gasoline, maintenance and operation per bus - Fort Recovery spent $20,986.1, Marion Local spent $22,418.22, Parkway spent $24,131.50 and St. Henry spent $24,149, according to a press release.
Other similar districts spent as much as $59,568.62 per bus, according to the report.
In maintenance, Marion Local spent $1,403 per student and Coldwater spent $1,473 compared to similar districts that spent as much as $2,138.
Marion Local also was among the most efficient districts in providing school administration.
The ratings come from a report issued by Ohio Education Matters as part of a nine-month study of K-12 education called Ohio Smart Schools.
"These Mercer County districts have shown that they can deliver quality services at a lower cost than most other districts in the state," Ohio Education Matters Executive Director Andrew Benson said. "The taxpayers and residents of this area should be proud that their district takes seriously the best use of resources to benefit children."
Benson also said other school districts should look to those in Mercer County to learn how to do more with less.
Michael Harlow, a public policy consultant from Ohio Education Matters, said the state requested the study last summer to find potential savings.
This is one of the most comprehensive studies of non-instructional school expenditures ever completed, he said.
The study was primarily informed by data from the Ohio Department of Education, he said.
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