“We need to be as efficient as we can with what we do have”
-School Board Chairman Fred Washington
The public schools in Beaufort County have been allocated more than $14,100 per child this year.
The money comes from a combination of federal ($977), state ($2,389) and local ($10,765) sources – and excludes additional money raised by bonds!
With some 19,000 students in Beaufort public schools that works out to a $271 million dollar budget (excluding bond revenues) for FY 2008-09.
Despite the huge sums of money involved, only pennies on the dollar are reaching the classroom in the form of “instructional spending.” According to the SC Budget and Control Board just 41 cents per dollar is spent on instruction – that’s $5,800 per student.
Suddenly, School Board members are gripped with the desire for cost cutting and streamlined spending. There is crippling concern over a $1 million shortfall in state money, an amount that works out to a tiny .003% of the total budget!
Kate Cerve of the Beaufort Gazette explains:
The district predicts a $1 million loss in state funding this school year, and superintendent Valerie Truesdale said more cuts could be coming.
“(State superintendent Jim Rex) told us last week that if sweaters don’t sell over Christmas, we can expect maybe one, maybe two, more rounds of budget cuts,” she said, because of the drop in sales tax revenues.
So a $1 million shortfall in a $271 million budget is a major cause for concern?
Only if perks for School Board officials are threatened…
The Beaufort paper goes on:
The Beaufort County Board of Education plans to consider at its Tuesday meeting a travel policy specifically for board members or revise the one that applies to district employees. It tabled a motion Saturday that would require board members to abide by the same rules and receive the same hotel and meal reimbursements as other district employees. The district policy states that employees are not to be reimbursed for in-county hotel stays. Several board members wanted to add a clause allowing exceptions to be made on a case-by-case basis.
What an encouragement to see education leaders work with such single-minded focus on their mission!
Not only are officials whining about having to abide by the same generous travel policies as everyone else, they are seriously willing to consider making taxpayers fund in-county hotel costs. Maybe they are worried about having to pay for upscale, Hilton Head hotels out of their own pocket?
This is lunacy, not leadership.
Even when they are clamoring for more money in a district that already spends $14,000+ per child, the school board has no shame in demanding a double standard on the taxpayers’ backs.
Students and teachers in Beaufort public schools deserve leaders who exercise fiscal restraint and prudence, not unwise and wasteful bureaucrats who seem intent on making South Carolina public schools a national laughingstock.