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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Spending in classrooms down, admin costs rise in Pickens County ...

Here are the latest figures from the school district of Pickens County's annual report card; some stats you won't be hearing from the school board or district administration.

Percentage Spending In Classroom:
Below is the percentage of total spending that makes it to the classroom in our school district according to the report card put out by the South Carolina Department of Education. You can see the trend, and it is not good. 

2008: 59.5%
2009: 58.4%
2010: 58.4%
2011: 59.0%
2012: 60.0%
2013: 59.0%
2014: 58.4%
2015: 55.7%
2016: 54.4%
2017: 53.4%

As I alluded to before, spending has been rising but results flat-lining. Why? I think there are a lot of reasons. The percentage of spending making it to the classroom has been declining for years now. As I mentioned, test results peaked around 2010 or so. And today they are lower, one reason I think is how the focus has shifted from the classroom to the system. 

Superintendents come in a few shapes and sizes. Some are curriculum leaders first and foremost. For example, Dr. Kelly Pew focused on academic rigor, having principals in place who were educational leaders and putting money in the classroom in terms of technology and lower class sizes. Pew would rather do a classroom observation than lead a meeting on the design of a new building. 

Some superintendents are system administrators first and foremost. That is how I saw Dr. Danny Merck. His focus is on expanding building capacity, redrawing school lines or having enough activity buses – managing the support system. In my opinion, he’d rather lead a meeting on the design of a new building than do a classroom observation. 

I said it at the time, and I think these numbers now show, from the Pew to Merck transition the district lost some of its academic focus. And this spending figures bear that out. A higher percentage of the money is going to the system, and a lower percentage to the classroom than before.

written by
Alex Saitta

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