It’s that time again. The time when South Carolina taxpayers can see just how much money the “strapped” SC State Department of Education has paid out to education contractors and consultants during a recession.
This month, almost $400,000 was doled out to a variety of consultants, contractors and political advisers. Unfortunately, those aren’t the only people who got paid big bucks. Teachers may be on furlough, or without work, but SCASA managed to somehow squeeze $29,000 from taxpayers. Were some of these other payments made to folks who had booths set up at the recent SCASA oceanside retreat? Rex’s frequent excuse that contractors are brought in to “save the department money” certainly doesn’t hold water in this instance.
Here is a recap of consultant spending in 2009.
- Year to Date- $2,145,056
Here is a complete list of contractors and consultants who received checks from the Department of Education in June 2009. See it for yourself here.
In his televised “State of Our Schools” talk, Rex addressed an uncomortable question posed by The Voice: If schools are so broke, why are many administrators running up bills at a “Leadership Conference” in Myrtle Beach that they fully intend to hand off to the taxpayers back home?
Besides trying to minimize the question with condescending laughter, Rex pointed out that only 800 bureaucrats were in attendance, unlike the 1800 that attended last year. Additionally, representatives from some of the state’s most challenged schools were in attendance, and the issues facing them must be addressed in the setting provided by the SCASA ( South Carolina Association of School Administrators) “Leadership Conference.”
Rex finished off by pointing out that a significant portion of the state’s tourist revenue comes from Myrtle Beach, and that cancelling the “long-standing” SCASA conference would be detrimental to the tourism industry.
So taxpayers should pony up for district bureaucrats to take a sea-side vacation because they don’t want tourism revenues in Myrtle Beach to decline? Even in times of economic prosperity, people would balk at this kind of expense ( if they knew) in the name of “education.” How much more now, when teachers are being laid off, and parents are being warned that class sizes and their property tax bills could be increasing?
Some administrators chose not to attend, and to spare local parents the burden of paying for the trip. Others felt that attending was important enough for them to pay for the trip out-of-pocket. Tough times call for tough spending practices, and trips to Myrtle Beach don’t fit that description.
While many school superintendents are in Myrtle Beach mingling and relaxing on the taxpayer dime, some officials are choosing not to indulge.
For years now, attendees at the annual South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) “Leadership Conference” have been returning to their districts with large bills that the taxpayers’ are expected to pay. Now, watchdog groups are decrying these taxpayer-subsidized amenities as “wasteful” in light of the financial struggles many school districts are facing.
Teachers have lost their jobs because of money shortages, but some administrators manage to find enough to pay for their beachfront vacations.
Mike Lucas, Superintendent of Oconee County School District, has chosen not to attend the Myrtle Beach function. In The Daily Journal, Superintendent Lucas stated-
“No local administrators are participating at district expense at the conference. Anyone from the school district at the conference had to cover their own costs because of state funding cuts.”
Posted in SCHOOL WATCH
Tagged Budget Cuts, conference spending, Frank Morgan, Kingston Plantation, Leadership Conference, Myrtle Beach, Oconee County School District, SCASA, South Carolina Association of School Administrators, South Carolina public schools, Superintendent Mike Lucas, travel costs
Superintendent “Dropout Jim” Rex went down to the sunny shores of beautiful Myrtle Beach this week to enjoy some hard-earned taxpayer-financed pampering.
From the controversial SCASA summer retreat, Rex conducted his annual State of the School Address, an event that Jim and his publicists are trying desperately to make into a major media event.
That didn’t quite happen this year.
Even before the dramatic story of Governor Sanford’s trip to the Appalachian Trail Argentina crowded out other news events, Rex failed to secure any live broadcast television or radio coverage of the speech. Continue reading
Posted in SCHOOL WATCH
Tagged Appalachian Trail, Argentina, Govenor Mark Sanford, Jim Rex, Judi Gaston, Mark Sanford, Myrtle Beach, SCASA, School Choice, South Carolina public schools, State of Schools, WBTW, WIS
Classroom teachers struggle as “Educator” elites indulge in a publicly-funded pampering.
This has been a rough year for classroom teachers in South Carolina’s public schools.
The 2008-09 school year began with over $11,480.00 in per student appropriations but teachers saw just pennies on those dollars. According the South Carolina’s Budget and Control Board, only 44 cents per public dollar was actually slated to reach the classroom in the form of “instructional spending.” The rest went for spending on items as varied as private golf course memberships to questionable out-of-state travel reimbursements for so-called Educational Leaders (or “Educrats“).
Then a downturn in tax revenue collections began to chip away at the state portion of that public school funding. Continue reading
On several occasions The Voice has publicized the heavy expenses incurred by school district superintendents who attend the annual taxpayer-subsidized South Carolina School Boards Association junket in Myrtle Beach.
Already, SCASA has begun encouraging members to register for the 2009 Summer Leadership Conference.
In theory, “SCASA Summer Conferences” may be a wonderful opportunity for district employees to gather and share best practices, but in reality it is a weekend of wining and dining in luxury accommodations, with the taxpayers back home picking up the bill. Continue reading