The Voice regularly points out news articles that drastically under-represent how much money school districts across the state are actually pulling in. If you're a new reader and are curious what we mean, just click here to read a recent example of reporting that - intentionally or otherwise - misleads readers who have little opportunity to see the full funding picture.
A recent article from the Times and Democrat certainly falls under the category of "misleadingly low school funding numbers." In an innocuous enough sentence, the article reports that the Calhoun County School District's Board of Trustees recently approved a preliminary reading for a $4.6 million budget.
Because we are still waiting for the full 2012-13 funding numbers from the legislature, we will use the 2011-12 funding numbers and enrollment as a reference point. Let's say that this coming year Calhoun County has about 1650 students enroll (1649 for 2011-12). With a total $4.6 million budget, that's about $2,787 per student.
That is a far cry from the total funding poured into Calhoun School District this past year. The district received $5,903 per pupil from the state, $1,646 from federal sources, and $6,810 from local sources. Add that all up, and you have an astounding $14,359 per student, or a $23.6 million budget!
Obviously board members can hem and haw about "We're just talking about this or that portion of the budget," but that's kind of the point. With regularly reporting on what are essentially just bits and pieces of the funding pie, it's incredibly unlikely that the average citizen across the state will ever see the full numbers of school funding/spending. This works in favor of a misconception that South Carolina taxpayers need to continually pour more money into the system, rather than looking for true fiscal prioritization and reform.