To the Newton Community,
The Citizen Advisory Group is posting to its website today a discussion draft of our major benchmarking report. We consider this report to be a discussion draft because we are interested in hearing public comment and feedback on the following questions: Is the data complete and accurate? Are we interpreting it correctly? Do we fully understand the context and nuances embedded in the data? Is it leading us to ask the right questions? A final version of the report will come out in early 2009.
The motivation underlying this benchmarking study was to collect data that would help us identify and frame the most important questions related to (1) the choices facing Newton with respect to municipal and educational service levels and their long-term funding and (2) innovative ways of increasing the operational efficiency and effectiveness and developing new or enhanced sources of funding for City services.
In reviewing this discussion draft, two warnings are in order:
First, be aware that there are inherent problems of comparability across municipalities. Not only are there differences in the ways communities categorize activities and report data, but there is an inherent problem of finding a community exactly like Newton with which to compare ourselves. Newton simply does not have a “clone,” inside or outside Massachusetts.
Second, use extreme caution in using the report’s tables and charts in a “stand alone” manner. In most cases, the data needs an explanation to be fully understood. In addition, remember that variances from averages by themselves are neither good nor bad but rather may reflect choices made by municipal leaders.
Ruthanne Fuller, Vice Chair of the Citizen Advisory Group, was the leader and principal author of this study. While she certainly has the most nuanced understanding of the research reported here, we are all available for discussion and comment.
Respectfully submitted by
Read the Benchmark Report here.