Wanna Check My School Math?

24 02 2008

Our big neighborhood has a homeowners’ newsletter and I just flipped through the latest issue to see a column about the local school district, written by a fellow resident who’s been on the board for years and now is running for the state House. So he’s killing at least two, maybe three birds with this one school-PR stone. Maybe he hadn’t figured on me reading it, though? 😉

Among the happy fact-blurbs — the cost to run the schools in this county is just under a million bucks per DAY! This is at a time Florida is slashing property taxes and holding monster school district budgets harmless (so public safety and law enforcement, libraries, transportation, family service assistance from meals and health clinics to rec programs etc. get to take the full hit. Academics are just more important, right?)

But then he goes on with his happy little fact blurbs, chirping about all the non-academic things the schools are spending big bucks on — including the same stuff getting cut from city and county budgets!?

* Our school bus system is the largest transportation agency in Leon County logging over 4 million miles per year. . . our buses travel to Alaska and back twice a DAY in total mileage.”

* LCS has 21 satellite kitchens and 20 self-contained kitchens. . .more than 22,500 meals every DAY.

* We maintain and support 57 major ‘local area technology’ networks and over 9,000 personal computers. [he didn’t mention the libraries and all their total books but he could’ve and should’ve.]

*Since Safety is our top priority [Not the three Rs? — so the the cool mil per day we’re spending on schools and holding harmless is is for safety, while fire and police budgets get cut throughout all our neighborhoods?] LCS was the first county in the state to hire a fulltime safety officer.

[He goes on to say this school employee works “hand in hand” with the police and sheriff’s dept, and I guess that will continue assuming there’s anyone left to hold hands with after we spend everything the community can afford on nothing but school safety rather than community safety for all the taxpaying public.]

He ends the report by saying “Leon County has a very good school system. . .I am happy and proud to have been a small part of it for these past 12 years.”

How small? – moneywise that is, was your part for free? If it was part of the million per day, maybe you should have done a happy little fact-blurb on what “we” spend on board member and top administrator salaries and expenses? After all, you opened this column with:

“We all pay taxes to support our schools. I thought you would find it interesting to see what you are getting for your investment and where your money goes. . . ”

Maybe I need to send YOU some of MY happy little fact-blurbs.
My van is almost 12 years old, haven’t had a new vehicle the whole three terms you’ve been watching out for kids’ transportation and safety. Send me a million per day, or since we’re cutting taxes this year, just rebate my thousands in annual school tax, and I’ll be glad to write some up as a little neighborhood report, about how I’m spending “your” investment in my family’s safety, health, food, transportation, management and decision-making, oh — and education.

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11 responses

24 02 2008
JJ

So if you really cared about safety, in environmental terms if nothing else –just cancel a week of school everywhere and save millions (billions?) of miles driven each year!

24 02 2008
NanceConfer

Why, if the schools are being protected from the tax-cutting insanity, have I just heard about programs being cut in schools? Only things like health and PE programs but still . . .

And while school districts spend like there’s no tomorrow, teachers and parents (and my Mom 🙂 ) are still supplying paper products and other basic necessities . . .

Nance

24 02 2008
Crimson Wife

I get so mad at the spending priorities of the school districts in the area. CA is supposedly in this huge budget crunch and the schools are cutting art, music, foreign language, gifted & talented, etc. programs BUT they are giving the athletic facilities a $19 MILLION facelift and they’re spending $5 MILLION to build health clinics. The latter they claim is necessary because “otherwise some kids would have no access to healthcare”. So where, pray tell, does the county’s $229 MILLION annual spending on its public hospital and clinics go? Plus the $30 BILLION the state spends on the Medi-Cal program.

25 02 2008
NanceConfer

With all that money in the CA ps system, why not have “all of the above?” I’d hate to deny a child healthcare (remember when schools had school nurses?) but I wonder why there is a budget crunch at all. Aren’t CA schools funded by property taxes and don’t you folks have some of the priciest housing around?

Nance

25 02 2008
JJ Ross

Speaking of health care policy and the liberal CA social sensibility (for want of a better term) this thing between Clinton and Obama about whether heath care coverage should be “universal” and/or enforcably mandatory, parallels the arguments for and against universal, compulsory schooling to an almost eerie degree.

I think there are whole blog essays begging to be written about that —

25 02 2008
JJ

About school nurses, thanks for the connection, Nance. This still fits in the larger issue conversation, plus it has school nurse and kids’ health news from both CA and FL:

“School Nurses on Aisle Four”

. . .here’s an enterprising public health enhancement. We set up health clinics in those quickie oil change stations, so while the car gets serviced, the driver does too, right in the little waiting area. You’re not supposed to touch anything there anyway and the breeze blows through all day, so germs would be less likely to breed and spread. One interchangeable coverall design could serve for doctors, nurses and mechanics. Maybe with a little sticker on your forehead to remind you when to come back for the followup visit! And what a clever business model, ring up twice as much customer cash per “unit” on the same site in the same amount of time.

Of course kids don’t drive or own cars or go to restaurants or jobs or shopping, and the kids whose families lack cars and cash won’t be helped by anything but school clinics, but hey! They had nothing to lose in the first place, it was never about them and what THEY needed. . .

25 02 2008
Nance Confer

Since neither of their current plans will see the light of day after Congress gets their turn, arguing over the details seems pointless to me.

Just politics as usual — throw around words like “mandatory,” claim the other guy’s plan covers fewer people, make people afraid!

And these are the Democrats!

Nance

25 02 2008
JJ

I was thinking not of details but the broad political frames, about how you have to enforce the requirement on everyone or else it’s more expensive because some who think they can do better on their own, opt out. I heard some woman, Linda something from Clinton’s think tank, explaining this on NPR this morning, as if she were patiently talking to a child instead of intelligent citizens WHOSE MONEY AND HEALTH AND SOCIETY IT IS in the first place! (shouting at her, not you Nance) 🙂

But isn’t that just exactly what public school advocates argue, about spreading the costs and not leaving the needy folks in a more expensive public pool, when they try to bring charters and privates and even homeschoolers under their big public umbrella?

25 02 2008
Nance Confer

It is the same sort of approach to the finances, I suppose.

But as much as anyone can “try to bring” all of us under their umbrella, we can opt out.

And if the healthcare plans are as much a burden and of as little benefit as many of us perceive ps to be, many of us will opt out.

Or they will be better than nothing and we will opt in.

I object to the fear tactic being used in of any of this though. Pols and others who want to run my life can try. But that doesn’t mean I have to let them or that I have to be frightened at the prospect of carefully evaluating what they are offering and deciding what to do.

Nance

25 02 2008
JJ

Hey, there’s a concept! Make it worth opting in for the folks paying the bills . . .
Nance, you should go into politics. 😉

25 02 2008
NanceConfer

I’m a Mom. Close enough? 🙂

Nance

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