Open Forum: Would like to see ‘tooth-to-tail’ ratios for school system, county | Winchester star

I enjoyed James Sherry’s comment in the April 12 issue of The Winchester Star. I didn’t know about the teeth/tail ratio and I find it fascinating. I agree that any large bureaucracy tends to clone mid-level managers. The federal government and Valley Health illustrate this.

I would be very interested in the results of an audit of Frederick County schools if ordered by the Board of Supervisors. I would like it to include a “tooth to tail” ratio calculation to see how it compares to surrounding school districts. Support people in line are very important. They are needed, as shown by Russia’s recent difficulty in invading Ukraine due to lack of support personnel. For schools, janitors, field crews, cooks, cafeteria workers and nurses are needed. Building maintenance, heating and electricity must be paid for. Any business providing services to the public relies on a budget that is heavily geared towards personnel, and salaries make up the bulk of the budget. This is the case of schools, hospitals and libraries. Providing a “good job” requires health insurance and some form of pension plan. Everything adds up.

I hope the auditors will notice what percentage of the budget is for administration and compare it to the school districts around us. I hope the $22 million will be immediately returned to the school district even before the audit, because it’s impossible to make a budget if you don’t know how much money you have. I hope the Frederick County Board of Supervisors is as “transparent” as they want the school board to be and provide us in a “post” statement with the cost of the audit. It would also be interesting to have a “tooth to tail” ratio for Frederick County as a whole – although it may be more difficult to decide which was the tooth and which was the tail. A simpler “item” might be the expenses incurred by the supervisors’ fight against critical race theory and the 1619 Project, perhaps prorating the total time spent in meetings talking about it as a percentage of the salaries of the supervisors.

Marguerite Toxopée


Melvin B. Baillie