Monday, July 2, 2007

Impertinent Observations

Last week, the Clarke County Board of Education adopted a budget of $118,290,754 for the 2007-2008 school year. That represents an increase of $641,248 over the tentative budget as originally proposed just a couple of months back. And so it goes.

Both Athens 101 and Athens World have taken note of a post I put up a couple of weeks ago, “Your Tax Dollars at Work,” concerning a specific property tax appeal and the Unified Government’s handling thereof. As I understand it, one of the county commissioners circulated the post to the others. It is nice to know that somebody is reading :)

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Anonymous said...

With your level of interest and involvement, I'm sure you could tell us how many students will be attending Clarke County schools this coming fall and we could see how much is being spent per student. I have a hunch this figure would be staggering. It would also be interesting to compare this number to surronding counties. Thanks for publishing this site, great information.

james said...

According to the school system financial reports issued annually by the Georgia Department of Education, student enrollment increased in Clarke County by 390 pupils from 2002-2006, from 10,921 to 11,311, or 3.6%. Per pupil expenditures increased by $1392 over that same period, from $8225 to $9617, or 16.9%. Thus, per pupil expenditures increased at more than four and a half times the rate of student enrollment over the period. Assuming the same rates of growth, the figures for 2007 would be about 11,413 pupils and per pupil expenditures of $10,023. If one divides the District’s 2007-2008 budget by 11,413 pupils, the result is $10,365 per pupil.

For my complaints about the District’s finances, see my earlier post from 11 June, entitled “Taxes – School District Edition.”

I posted the following as a comment over at Safe As Houses back in January:

“Consider these numbers. The disparities in per pupil expenditures and school board millage rates between Clarke County and its neighbors are significant. According to the most recent figures I could find from the Georgia Departments of Education and Revenue, 2005 per pupil expenditures and 2006 school board millage rates were:

Clarke County: $9038 per pupil, 20.0 mills

Jackson County: $7480 per pupil (+ 21%), 18.9 mills

Madison County: $7465 per pupil (+ 21%), 16.92 mills

Barrow County: $7263 per pupil (+ 24%), 18.5 mills

Oconee County: $7243 per pupil (+ 25%), 16.5 mills

Oglethorpe County: $6985 per pupil (+ 29%), 16.0 mills

Commerce City: $6745 per pupil (+ 34%), 17.75 mills

Jefferson City: $6314 per pupil, (+ 43 %) 14.0 mills

The percentages in parentheses are measures of how much Clarke County spends in excess of the other school systems. For reference purposes, the state average for per pupil expenditures was $7426 (per pupil expenditures are the combined total of expenditures in seven specific categories: instruction, pupil services, staff services, general administration, school administration, transportation, and maintenance & operations). Even when compared with others school systems around the state that are similar, either in terms of population size or demographic breakdown, Clarke County spends more per pupil across the various categories.

I completely agree that societal factors play a role in the chronic under-performance of Clarke County’s schools. My question is how will higher expenditures alleviate those societal factors so as to improve education? It seems to me we've tried that approach for quite a few years now, and the results are nor encouraging.”

Winfield J. Abbe said...

The problem with public schools is the same as the problem with tax evaluations on real estate, other taxes imposed by government and virtually all of government in general: There is no practical way to force change with money by those forced to pay the money to operate government boonedoggles. With public schools, for example, the lion's share of funding comes from property owners, not just for one year but forever from one owner to the next. Our son graduated from Cedar Shoals over 25 years ago but we still are forced to pay for the failed public schools here. If a business fails to provide proper service or goods, the customer refuses continued business with that business. But government uses its Mafia type powers to force property owners to continue to pay for these failed schools with the real threat of confiscating one's property "legally" at the courthouse if the property tax is not paid! Those who created government and made these laws, former citizens like you and me, betrayed us, and placed the interests of government unfairly above the interests of citizens; a very non level playing field. And government hates change, especially change which is not politically correct, like admitting that very irresponsible living cultures, children born out of wedlock, racial cultures, etc., are the root of the problem, which some have discussed. Until the weapon of MONEY is available to citizens, to withdraw from these failed schools or other governmental institutions, mostly hollow words are all that are available and nothing will likely change. Why not use the same intimidation of parents who Mother and Father children to pay for public schools as is used against property owners? That would not be politically correct would it? Our family pays almost $10,000 per year in property tax to ACC (over half goes to fund schools) and we have not had a child in the public schools here for over 25 years. Many others are in the same unfair boat. But do you see any of the state legislators talking about or doing anything about this unfairness? The House Speaker indicates some interest but it will take much more than one individual to do the job.