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Thread: What are Wayland's peer towns and how does Wayland stack up against them?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Wayland MA

    Default What are Wayland's peer towns and how does Wayland stack up against them?

    In its latest newsletter, WVN writes:

    Quote Originally Posted by WVN
    Town Meeting voters showed that they don't take kindly to slovenly procedure, no matter how well intended.
    Ironic, then, that WVN goes on to demonstrate its own "slovenly procedure" a bit later in the newsletter.

    Quote Originally Posted by WVN
    The schools serve 2,679 students at a per capita cost of $15,900, according to School Committee Chair Barb Fletcher. That number includes benefit costs picked up on the town side of the ledger, and is in the middle of per pupil costs for Wayland's "peer group," she said. That peer group, defined by the School Committee, generally includes the dozen or so richest towns in the state.
    The $15,900 figure comes from the School Committee's FY14 Budget Hearing Presentation. It's instructive to examine not only the per pupil expenditure (PPE) ranking, but also two key drivers of it.

    1. The first driver is teacher salary. As the figure below shows, Wayland ranks 3rd in its peer group of 10 on this measure (for FY11; at last check, FY12 data were not available; the source for all three of the school-related data sets is the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education).

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    2. The second driver is student:FTE ratio (FTE is full-time equivalent, a measure of educator headcount). How Wayland ranks depends a bit upon how one defines "goodness" for this metric. From a town/spending perspective, for instance, lower teacher salary is better (even though teachers and even school supporters might disagree). Similarly, from financial standpoint, a higher student:FTE ratio is better. Here, Wayland ranks 7th out of 10 (FY12).

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    3. Teacher salary and student:FTE ratio are two drivers of PPE (but they aren't the only two--factors ranging from administrator salary to utilities and transportation cost also have an effect). Wayland ranks 5th of 10 (FY12).

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    Where WVN falls down is their arguably snide but demonstrably incomplete observation about Wayland's School Committee-defined peer group generally including the "dozen or so richest towns in the state." The nerve of that School Committee placing pedestrian Wayland up against such high-riders!

    Based on income per capita, Weston ranks first. Dover is second. Sherborn comes in third. Wellesley claims fourth. And so on. Against these Leviathans, how does underdog Wayland stack up? Well, okay, Wayland is fifth in the state, ahead of 9 of our 14 peer towns (data courtesy MA Department of Revenue).

    Of course, income isn't the only measure of "richest." Wayland doesn't fare quite as well on the property value scale, coming in at 10th out of the 14. Still, it's ludicrous to suggest that Wayland doesn't belong in this august group.

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    It would be interesting to see what list of peer towns WVN might come up with. Geographically, the School Committee's list certainly looks "peer-ish." Ditto for economically. And also for educational outcomes, for instance as measured by Boston Magazine's ranking of high schools (with the full acknowledgement that such a ranking is just one small way to compare). Spoiler alert: Wayland ranks 6th.

    Slovenly procedure, WVN, slovenly procedure.
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 04-06-2013 at 07:46 AM. Reason: Addition of MA DESE and DOR sources

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005


    Nicely stated Jeff. Nicely stated.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Default Property Tax Ranking from Year 2000 and Year 2010

    Here is some more data that highlights the same trends - a decade apart and relative rankings are basically unchanged.

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    Correction: Edited to insert correct pictures
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