CAUTION! Arithmetic Follows

In a previous post, I wrote that “75% of revenues derived from South Carolina’s sales tax earmarked for K-12 education goes for school administrators’ salaries.

Those numbers have been challenged, which is a good thing.  So, I went back through the data published by the South Carolina Department of Education (DoE) “Annual Salary Study of Selected School, District, and Personnel,” and recalculated.  My (re)figures for “administrative” salaries for that period show $515,089,764 – NOT $516,685,102 – was spent for administrative salaries in 2006-07. That’s a difference of $1,595,338.

However… [regular readers know there’s ALWAYS a “however” here].

Official state budgetary sources tell me “the 06-07 Appropriations Act shows that the comparable earmarked amount of sales taxes for 06-07 is $650,238,358.

OK – In 2006-07, state sales tax monies designated for K-12 education is $650,238,358 and the salaries for administrative positions in the school system came to $515,089,764 or 79% of designated funds – not 75%.

Now, the DoE reports expenditures of $470,330,890 on “Leadership” in FY 2006.  “Leadership” is described as “School, Program and District Management.”  These are JUST Principals, Asst. Principals, “School Office,” Deputies, Senior Administrators, Researchers, Program Evaluators, Superintendents, “school board” and “legal.”

So, according to these figures, DoE spent 72% of the education-designated sales tax monies for “leadership.”  For those who check out the links above, you’ll see that the department’s 2006-2007 annual salary study (the last year it was published) has quite a few more administrative jobs and categories of jobs listed than do the other reports.

To keep going, in FY 2007, “Leadership” cost $502,979,419 and in FY 2008, $542,789,706 (These are the most recent figures).

“Leadership” costs rose by $32,648,529 from 2006 to 2007 and another $39,810,287 from 2007 to 2008 for a total $72,458,816 over just two years.  That’s a 15% increase in “leadership” salaries from 2006 to 2008.

Getting annual figures for tax money allocations is very difficult, so we have to jump to current year.

According to the State Budget Office:

“For FY 2009-2010, over $2.8 billion, or 49.6% of the General Fund, is appropriated for educational initiatives in South Carolina.

“The K-12 education General Fund appropriation is $2,115,037,477 for FY 2009-2010. In addition to the General Fund appropriation, one cent of South Carolina’s sale tax (or $532,044,107) is earmarked for K-12 education.” [emphasis added]

From 2006-07 to 2009-10, sales tax funds for education dropped $118,194,251 or 18%.

Since these are the most recent numbers I can find – and realizing the percentages could skew either way – for the fun of arithmetic, I’ll compare the published 2008 cost of “leadership” to 2010 funding.

The cost of “leadership” in public schools in FY2008 EXCEEDS the 2009-2010 state sales tax allocations for K-12 by over $10M.

Those same “leadership” salaries equate to 26% of the General Fund appropriation for K-12 education.

The point of all these numbers is to emphasize just what South Carolina taxpayers are actually paying FOR when it comes to education.  As sales tax revenue for schools falls, there is a rise in salaries for administrators and bureaucrats.  A minimum increase – INCREASE – of over $72,000,000 (SEVENTY TWO MILLION DOLLARS)  in just two years.

What would that money do for the states more poorly resourced schools?

Does YOUR child’s school have bake sales, candy sales or get involved in other fund-raising activities?

Are there “Computers For Schools” or other school assistance programs run by retail chains in your areas?

Do you have to pay to go to an athletic event?

Do you have to pay for your students’ textbooks?

Are there fees you’re required to pay?

Given the numbers above – WHY?


4 thoughts on “CAUTION! Arithmetic Follows

    Regardless of who we chose to be the state’s chief of instruction, I propose that they go into office with the following warning – Failure to cut administrative cost by 10% every year during your first term will result in a recall vote.
    The District/Area/Assistant Superintendent and Supervisors/Directors and Consultants staff should be cut by 50% within 2 years. By my count, there are 1,595 Supervisors of one kind or another. Giving every county 2 districts, each with a superintendent and deputy + 1 consultant would cut that number to 276. Using the average salary of an assistant principal ($65,000) as the pay for the average “administrator” the net result in cutting the rest of the positions (1,319) is an $85,735,000 savings per year in salary costs alone.
    Marion District 7 (oddly named since Marion County only has three districts) has a total of 738 students in it. The High School is very successful (a US News World Report mention), but why do we need a school district the size of some high school graduating classes? (Mine had 600) (This is a rhetorical question by the way, I can explain it but you won’t like the answer)

    Think of it this way – we have roughly 1,700 “Administrators” for 1,092 schools. Why do we need principals if every school has an “administrator and a half” working for it?

    Now for the important part – use a majority of the money for teaching positions. I’m not necessarily advocating more teachers; just pay the ones we have better if they produce.
    If they don’t produce fire them. Most of the empirical data on class size seems to indicate that smaller classes only make a difference at the K through 2nd or third grade levels. Based on my observations in our high schools, competent teachers seem to do quite well with 30 or more in a basic upper level class. The key to success here is discipline. Suspensions need to serve as something other than a vacation from class and expulsions should be permanent.

    Use a third or so of the savings on infrastructure, you could build 3 nice high schools with $28,000,000.

    If you want an easily accessible “facts and figures dump” on SC schools, go here:


  2. Excellent work, Garnet Spy!

    You are the political CPU of South Carolina. You take the raw data and then apply critical reasoning and common sense software to turn them into useful information.


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