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.
Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of just how much money is spent by the SC Department of Education. More importantly, taxpayers are starting to realize just how much money is spent on non-essential projects and bureaucratic whimsy.
The Voice for school choice blog has already brought to light the large sums spent on lavish hotel accommodations for traveling Dept of Education employees, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wasteful and heedless spending done in the name of “public education.”
In a year with budget cuts imminent, and essential services supposedly threatened, the SC Department of Education is still spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every month in travel expenses for contractors and consultants.
Just to put into context the Rex administrations pleas for more funding, in August of 2008 the SC Department of Education forked out $323,797 for “Non-State Employee Travel” alone. Amid the scores of names listed for checks from Jim Rex and Co. are two listings for “The Center for Creative Leadership.”
Just these two pay-outs amount to $213,881!
This poses the question: Is Jim Rex ready to lay off teachers and have buses stranded rather than implement prioritized spending and cost-benefit analyses?
It would seem so from his actions. Apparently, high dollar consultants make the team under Coach Rex while teachers worry about getting cut.
Right now diesel is around $3.70 a gallon. The money Rex spent on ‘travel’ costs for ” The Center for Creative Leadership” in one month alone would purchase 57,805 gallons of diesel fuel!
Put another way, this money could have paid 5 new teachers $40,000 to work in the classroom.
The people who spend the equivalent of Eritrea’s GDP on “education,” and produce a 49% graduation rate, low SAT scores, a widening achievement gap and more excuses, can not be trusted to make wise fiscal decisions. It is past time to implement strict fiscal accountability standards ( i.e. online check registries) to make sure that funds spent to educate children are not simply fattening the bank accounts of consultants and administrators.
Taxpayers in South Carolina should not be having to worry about whether their children will have buses available to take them to school.
The problem is not a lack of money-that has been demonstrated time and again- the problem is a lack of accountability, focus, and restraint.