Districts Find Money for What They Prioritize
Districts across the state have been steadily complaining about the state legislature's directive to give school employees a 2% raise. The reason most frequently given is that the pay raises are an "unfunded mandate," or a directive from the state that the districts are not being given money to comply with.
Obviously, how money is directed to schools is incredibly convaluted, and some funds can only be directed toward certain projects, etc. Regardless, there is something teachers need to be very keenly aware of. School boards and administrations find money for what they prioritize, and too often that is not classroom instruction. Whether it's a new scoreboard, iPads for board members, administrative pay increases, travel or massive building projects, taxpayers can see an extensive list of non-priority expenditures (often made during a time when budgets were allegedly cut to the bone).Consider Lexington School District One. This is a district whose entitled attitude toward expanding administrative spending is legendary. As of 2010, Lexington taxpayers were paying over $20 million a year just in administrative salaries. Bureaucracy might not be effective, but it certainly isn't cheap! Lexington County taxpayers had to fork over $2.2 million just to pay for a new building to house members of their burgeoning administrative staff. Now, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act request of The Lexington Chronicle, Lexington One residents have been informed that the district will be using funds approved in a 2008 referendum to embark on a $336 million spending spree for new buildings/improvements.
We don't think it's unfair to say that pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into beautiful, shiny-windowed buildings can't create a truly effective educational enviroment. At least, it hasn't up to this point. Good teachers can, though. It would be reasonable for teachers to wonder how money - especially in such fantastic amounts - can be found for everything but the people in the classroom.
It is also interesting to think about the costly building project from this perspective: A single school district is implementing a localized building project that will cost nine times what the estimated maximum cost of a statewide school choice program is (without any savings factored in). Nine times. Education bureaucrats are flabbergasted at the idea of implementing a school choice program that has demonstrable academic benefit for children in other states, but don't blink an eye at pouring hundreds of millions into projects whose very necessity could be debated