Wednesday, July 15, 2009

when rankings really matter

We are low on the esoteric quota here of late... This ought to make up for it.

I fully admit I do my fair share of benchmarking. You can learn a lot from ranking things, but a lot of times the interpretation can be overblown. Here is a case where rankings may cost real $$. I am reading in Bond Buyer that Congressman Doyle is fighting some provision on how the 'top 100' school districts are counted. Who cares eh?

Turns out that part of the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) is a bond program for school districts called the QSCB (Qualified School Construction Bond) program. The program, of which I knew little until reading this, has 40% of it's spending limited to the 100 largest school districts. The remainder goes to states. Apparently the City of Pittsburgh School District is close to being ranked literally number 100.

So close that if school districts in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Hawaii are included, the city school district does not come in as one of the top 100 and thus becomes ineligible for these bonds. The congressman is opposed to those school districts being ranked against the Pittsburgh School District. The argument is that for those school districts are essentially state-wide districts and states receive money separately via this program. That's all I know, but seems to be a rare case where the details of the counting really really matter. Any school finance beat reporters out there?

Now to play with numbers though. If the largest school district in the county/region is barely in the top 100 school districts nationally... what does that say about the comparative level of school district fragmentation here?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

time for an Allegheny County School District... they do it in Cameron County!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

I'm not seeing how anybody's interests are served by making it easier for a school district that is spending close to $20k per kid to borrow money.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

Off topic, but I know this is an interest of yours. See the link for 'tipping points' in neighborhood racial composition. Pittsburgh looks atypical, I think as a side effect of population decline, but I'm not certain.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 1:57:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

thats a great paper referenced. I have some great graphics of neighhorhood change here that I am looking to use in a more formal way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 4:01:00 PM  

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