$30 million in bureaucratic spending growth has to come from somewhere!
Parents and teachers in Anderson County are wondering how an economic down turn will affect their public schools.
According to Betty Bagley, Superintendent of Anderson County School District 5, classrooms are going to bear the brunt of the funding cuts.
Bagley estimates that the cuts will result in $900,000 less for the district, which will “require” a teacher hiring freeze and ultimately lead to larger class sizes for students.
The blame for the district losing money- according to Bagley- falls squarely on the legislature for limiting the local districts’ ability to continually raise single family home property taxes.
Never mind that Anderson District 5’s schools already enjoy a combined $11,021 in total local, state and federal per student funding. Anderson 5 officials want the ability to continue raising taxes.
An August article in The Anderson Independent Mail quotes Bagley as saying “Superintendents tried to tell [legislators] that basing the solubility of school districts on a sales tax was a mistake.” Clearly the $3.3 billion in state General Fund spending is not enough to educate children in South Carolina.
Bagley may have to cram students into classrooms and put off hiring teaching staff, but administrative spending and ill-conceived building projects will go full steam ahead!
This year the Anderson 5 Board of Trustees went ahead with plans to build a lavish new $3.1 million auditorium in the district. Even when the Board’s initial projections were determined to have under-estimated the cost by $3.5 million officials merely scaled back the project until it was only a few hundred thousand dollars over their budget before approving it.
Another construction project, a brand-new middle school, was far too expensive for the District to afford, so they just cut down on the building’s size. Superintendent Bagley’s response to this questionable fiscal decision? “It looks as though – as much as I hate that – that we’re going to have to go to a one story.”
Superintendent Bagley’s own personal spending helps explain why school administrative spending in Anderson County has increased by $31.8 million since 2001 (see the “Anderson tab” on the Budget and Control Board’s “Local Government Finance Report).
In addition to her sizeable $145,000 salary package ( three times the average family income in Anderson County), Bagley spent nearly $9,500 travelling around to “conferences” in the 2007-08 school year.Superintendent Bagley may be very concerned about cuts in instructional spending in Anderson 5, but that did not keep her from spending district funds on luxurious accomodations in Tampa, Myrtle Beach, and Washington earlier this school year.
Like some of the other public officials highlighted on The Voice, Bagley wants more money but less oversight. Without the true accountability that comes from parents having choices in where they send their child to school, bureaucrats like Bagley have little or no incentive to be transparent or disciplined in their spending.