Teacher cuts due to bloated growth, not stimulus battle

Herbert M.jpg

…as a school district, we have an obligation to make sure our community is as informed as possible about events and issues.”

Full time lobbyists and publicists from the public education System have been hard at work in recent weeks.

As families and businesses strain under the pressures of the economic down turn, the taxpayer financed spokespersons for Government Schools are demanding ever-more public money for their “great schools” as well as their “dropout factories.”

Case in point: Lexington/Richland School District Five

In mid-May the State Newspaper reported that 70 classroom teachers had been laid off.

District spokesman Buddy Price’s comments in the article left readers assuming that cuts were simply the result of the ongoing Stimulus fight between South Carolina’s legislative and executive branches.

Now, recently released details from the District Five Comprehensive Annual Financial Report indicate the “cuts” are more likely the result of inflated staff growth spanning a decade, than a short term downturn in state funding.

Consider these details from Table 18 of the report:

In 1999 Lex/Rich 5 enrolled 14,234 students who were instructed by 887 full time teachers

In 2008, Lex/Rich 5 enrolled 16,505 students who were instructed by 1,395 full time teachers

In other words, the student population grew by 16% while the teaching staff grew 57%

Even before the payroll explosion the District enjoyed a pupil to teacher ratio of 16-to-1, well below the horrid tales of 20 and 30 student classrooms politicians cite when clamoring for higher public spending on K-12 Education.

To make matters worse, the Superintendent, Herbert M. Berg (who recently replaced controversial Superintendent Scott AndersEn) actually admitted that the district was somewhat “over-staffed” but this was AFTER local taxpayers were tricked into passing a bond referendum financing school construction. Now, reeling from voter and parent dissent, Berg is using the district website to spin a defense of the projects, some of which have been slowed or modified.

On the website, Berg claims:

“The referendum was never just about current or future growth…”

“Revised enrollment numbers from a demographer indicate [Seven Oaks Elementary, Irmo Elementary and Leaphart Elementary] will not grow over the next number of years… they currently have around 500 students enrolled…However, they will be built with a core capacity of 750 so that they may be expanded to accommodate growth in future years.”

“Cuts are being made and new schools are being opened. It is all a matter of prioritization.”

And so on and so forth…

In other words, Lexington/Richland School District Five spent 10 years on an unnecessary and expensive teacher hiring binge, tricked voters into passing a bond referendum, and now is firing teachers, wasting money on excess construction, and still threatening to fire more teachers.

Hardly the type of of financial discipline and resource stewardship most parents would want their children being taught.

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