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.
For months now, Spartanburg taxpayers have been royally outraged at the deceit and mismanagement displayed by disgraced Spartanburg District 7 figurehead, Superintendent Thomas White.
Somehow sensing that diverting education- designated dollars to a country club during a recession was a guaranteed ticket to taxpayer outrage, Superintendent White tried to rectify the situation… by doing it in secret.
This from The Herald Journal-
“District leaders still act as if there was nothing wrong with their decision earlier this year to give $325,000 of taxpayers’ money to a private country club to which three board members and the superintendent belong. They act as if there was no problem in discussing this plan behind closed doors, adding it to their agenda at the last minute, and basically doing what they could to keep the deal hidden… It wants its constituents to believe that there was nothing wrong with the deal or the secrecy in which it was made, that only a few troublesome individuals questioned it.
It’s nonsense, and the people know it. District leaders continue to erode public trust and confidence as they try to twist the perception of this issue.”
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
The Voice recently wrote about the confusing details of public school funding in South Carolina. You can read about where the average of $11,480 per public school student comes from here.
Now a quick look at where the money goes. From the Budget and Control Boards’ own “Local Government Finance Report.”
For every dollar spent by local public school districts:
43 cents goes to Instruction
31 cents goes to Administration
15 cents goes to Purchase of Land and Facility Construction
10 cents goes to Debt Service and Interest on Debt
less than 1 cent goes to Health and Human Services
less than 1 cent goes to Recreation and Culture
and 1 cent goes to “All Other”
Also of interest to parents and taxpayers in South Carolina: From 2001 to 2007, absolute growth in spending was 39 percent. Growth in administrative spending outpaced growth in instruction by 10 percent.
In 2007 more than $8.1 billion was spent by public schools in South Carolina but “only” $3.5 billion reached the classroom in the form of instructional spending.
According to this article from the WIS News 10 website, Jim Rex came under pressure from leadership in his own party after State Department of Education plans to lay off mechanics, and cut pay for bus drivers, came to light.
Democrat Harry Ott wanted Rex to answer the same question that school district mechanics and bus drivers across the state no doubt have in their minds: Why should low-pay district employees take pay cuts, or lose their jobs, while scores of education bureaucrats continue to rake in huge, taxpayer-funded salaries?
In the face of these queries from members of his own party, Rex waffled and decided not to cut mechanics and bus drivers because it would cause “too many problems.” Continue reading
Posted in POLICY
Tagged Budget Cuts, Cost Efficiency, Democrats, education reform, Funding, Harry Ott, Jim Rex, School Choice, school spending, South Carolina, South Carolina Department of Education, South Carolina public schools, waste, wasteful spending
The Anderson Independent-Mail posted an article detailing a speech by Jim Rex to the Oconee Alliance. In his speech, Rex bemoaned the possibility of more state budget cuts, and urged public schools to adopt a “culture of innovation” to help deal with decreasing resources.
“We’re all going to have to be more innovative; a lot of the solutions of the past just won’t work anymore,” Rex said. “We need a culture of innovation.”
In addition to calling for fiscal responsibility, Rex called the current zip code based system for school attendance an “antiquated notion,” a statement with which most families would eagerly agree. Continue reading
Posted in POLICY
Tagged Educational Effectiveness, Inez Tenenbaum, Jim Rex, open enrollment, PACT, School Choice, South Carolina, South Carolina Department of Education, South Carolina public schools, Spending, testing, wasteful spending
The idea of an “economic downturn” has yet to penetrate into the consciousness of some South Carolina bureaucrats.
Even though families are cutting costs and tightening their belts, school district administrators are demanding even more money.
Superintendent Joseph Pye is hardly running Dorchester School District 2 on a shoestring budget. The South Carolina Department of Education reports that-in 2007 alone- the district had expenditures of well over $214 million dollars. This amount of spending works out to over $10,000 per student.
Despite this considerable funding, Superintendent Pye had no qualms about demanding that taxpayers in Dorchester County hand over $2.8 million more than the funding required by state law! Continue reading
Tagged budget, Dorchester 2, economic downturn, Joseph Pye, Spending, superintendent, taxpayers, transparency, transparency and accountability, waste, wasteful spending
Disciplined budget warrior Marc Sosne earns praise and respect in York.
In the Upstate, and across South Carolina, the budget crisis is hitting home.
State lawmakers are meeting in Columbia with the difficult task of determining where to make cuts.
One public servant in York County’s Clover School District, has already taken leadership with self-imposed fiscal discipline.
Marc Sosne, superintendent of York School District 2, earns a modest $150,000.00 salary package, only three times the median income for families in his county.
Despite the fact that Superintendent Sosne’s contract ensures that his cell phone, vehicle, home office, and gym membership are paid for, Sosne has worked with single-minded focus to save taxpayers money. Continue reading
Tagged Clover School District, in-room movie, Marc Sosne, salary, school administrator, superintendent, taxpayer hero, transparency and accountability, wasteful spending, York County, York District 2
Despite an enormous $11,480 in average per student funding parents and teachers are worried.
Everyone is talking about budget cuts, and education bureaucrats with their hands buried in the state coffers are no exception. In fact, much noise has been made over schools without money to fuel school buses. Hints have even been made that some personnel could be let go if cuts are severe enough.
There are even threats of a four-day school weeks, leaving two-income families worried about which parent will have to skip out from work to watch the kids.
Education Department spin-master Jim Foster says of the cuts:
“When you have budget cuts this severe, it’s hard to avoid reducing the part of your budget where most of your money is spent, and 85% of a typical district’s budget is personnel.”
Jim Rex expressed his concerns as well:
“Right now I think we can protect students and their learning and the teacher’s positions,” State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex says. “If we talk about cuts in the future, I won’t be able to say that.”
The situation sounds desperate, and indeed it would be…if that were the whole truth. Continue reading