Demagoguery over school budget continues

Typical of the demagoguery about the school budget coming from our all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors—which has said it plans to cut $68 million from the school budget next year, even as student enrollment grows by 2,500 (thanks, by the way, to the extremely developer friendly policies of previous GOP Boards that abandoned all restraints on growth and threw the door open to rampant residential rezoning)—is the latest “news(sic) letter” from Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run).

After assuring us he is very, very concerned about maintaining the quality of the school system, Williams suggests that by cutting excess administrative costs, we can slash taxes and save money. (“I have stated publically (sic) that I think we have top-heavy management at the administration level, and I am concerned the funding is not getting down to the classrooms and teachers,” saith Williams).

The only trouble is that administrative costs (rather like that favorite mythical category of savings that Ronald Reagan always invoked, “waste, fraud, and abuse”) are miniscule and cannot possibly produce the savings that the slasher supervisors are insisting upon cutting out of the school budget.

Loudoun already has the lowest per pupil instructional costs of the DC metro region ($11,014 in FY 2012, compared to $18,047 in Arlington, e.g.). Adding 2,500 students means an additional $28 million in annual operating costs plus almost as much in new school construction costs to accommodate all of those new pupils.

So just what are administrative costs? If instead of reading Supervisor Williams’s evasive newsletter, you actually get the facts, here’s the reality (full budget documents available here):

FY13 Estimated Cost Per Pupil

Instruction $9,225

Operation & Maintenance 1,022

Pupil Transportation 776

Technology 306

Administration 235

Attendance & Health 153

Facilities 35

TOTAL $11,752

It turns out administration is a whopping 2% of the entire school budget. If you eliminated the entire schools administration, you would save $16,709,590.

Not exactly the same as $68,00,000.

Just remember: when these guys say they are merely seeking “efficiency,” what they really are doing is cutting into the flesh and bone of our schools. Period.

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