Marin County Best Education Value in Country

July 16th, 2007 By Ginger Wilcox

A Forbes magazine study has rated Marin County, California the best education value in the United States. The Forbes “Best and Worst School Districts for the Buck,” measured per-pupil spending, college entrance exam scores, entrance exam participation rate and graduation rate to determine which counties provide the best value for the money. Marin County was ranked #1.

So while our schools aren’t spending much the education are kids are getting is excellent. 96.8 graduate and more than 60%. Why?

High parent involvement is my thought, along with a substantial fair share donation by parents. Most of the schools have a “Fair Share” donation that is highly recommended (but not mandatory) to the foundation. The fair share amount is determined by the foundation and its’ commitment to the school district. Suggested fair share amounts for Reed Schools (Tiburon) are $1,100 per student, Mill Valley (Kiddo!) and Corte Madera/Larkspur are $600 per student, Kentfield is $825 per student and Ross is $2,650. The Corte Madera/Larkspur Foundation generates more than $600,000 for the schools while Kiddo, Ross, Tiburon, and Kentfield Foundations donation more than $1 million to their retrospective districts. The Redwood Foundation generates around $600K for Redwood High School.

These donations have a significant impact on the quality of education students receive. These funds keep class sizes low, help pay for aides in classrooms, and fund valuable programs like art and computer science. The “fair share” donations can be steep for some families, especially those with multiple children in the district but the donations are small in comparison to private school tuition. Many of the Marin public schools provide smaller class sizes, newer classrooms, and more program options than some private schools.

The community and parental involvement in the schools is probably a big reason Marin schools excel above the rest of the country.

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