Beaufort's Spending Frenzy
Who could stand in the way of introducing new technology to classrooms?
That's what education bureaucrats in Beaufort School District are probably thinking as taxpayers voice their concerns about the district raising taxes to pay for a new "technology initiative." Specifically, the district's school board wants to spend $1.8 million on new iPads for classrooms, and feels like they need to raise taxes to pull it off. The plan is to slap a few more mills of property tax on non owner-occupied homes until they can afford for every student to access Angry Birds at their desk.
The Beaufort County Council has to approve the measure, and has been getting an earful from residents about the district's "tax and spend" approach to financial management. The following quote is from an article in The Island Packet -
"Spending is increasing, while outcomes by which we measure a good education are going down," Jane Kenny of Bluffton said. "They are running a dropout factory." Almost a dozen others echoed her remarks, with one speaker after another drawing applause from the 75 or so people who attended the meeting at the Hilton Head Island library.
Let's put this plan in perspective. In 2011-2012, Beaufort County School District was funded at $3,621 per student in state funding, $1,138 in federal funding, and $11,656 in local funding. Add that all together, and Beaufort was funded at $16,415 per student. By any standard that is a huge amount of money. With 18, 817 students enrolled for the 2011-12 school year, that works out to be more than $308.8 million in revenue. Three hundred and eight million dollars. This school district is pulling in massive amounts of money, and spending it just as fast as they can. Do they really need to increase the already significant tax burden because they refuse appropriately prioritize?
If the school district's leadership really believes that iPads are a necessity for improving the Average/Below Average academic product of their district, then they need to find a way to afford it out of their already-generous funding.