Richland School District 2 just approved an operating budget of $192 million for next school year.
But this enormous sum (nearly $9,000 per child) is not the whole story. According to in$ite data from the State Department of Education, the district will need at least $80 million more to cover the cost of its lavish new buildings. In fact, the real per-pupil spending for 2009 should exceed $13,000 – more than three times the average tuition cost of a private school in the US. Millions more will be contributed by the federal government in the forms of grants and programmatic spending. Total spending should exceed the 2009 statewide average of $11,480 per child by at least $200.
Despite the fact that district tax collections in Richland have nearly doubled since 2000, student performance continues to worsen. According to the PACT test, just one-in-three 8th graders in Richland 2 public schools are “proficient” or better in math or English Language Arts!
Even more alarming, these proficiency numbers have been steadily decreasing each year, despite the fact that total per-pupil spending has more than doubled in the last decade.
The endless clamoring of bureaucrats and politicians for more money is an attempt to mask the sustained failure of public schools in South Carolina. Their wasteful abuse of taxpayer money siphons away the lion’s share of appropriations from teachers and children. Based on the analysis of the Budget and Control Board, we can predict that a mere $3,945 per pupil will reach Richland 2 students in the form of instructional spending.
Enough is enough. Only a far-reaching educational reform like school choice can dismantle the system of political corruption and graft that robs our children of an adequate education. Only when educational bureaucrats are forced to openly compete with private schools, home-schooling, and charter schools will the bloated K-12 budgets of Richland 2 and other districts filter down to South Carolina’s children.