Although the meeting was canceled at the Calhoun Academy for the Arts, I went anyway. Since the Anderson Independent printed the announcement, I figured many people would come unaware of the cancelation. Got to speak to about 20 or so constituents.
Also, I’ve been sent a copy of a petition that is being passed around to district 5 teachers, parents, and concerned citizens. The petition calls for the legislature to do several things:
1-suspension in state mandates. I’m all for that, we’ve got to get out of the habit of micromanaging the classroom from Columbia
2-grant flexibility in funding. I’m for that too. I’m not concerned how, just get the money to the classroom. Currently, we only get about 50 cents on the dollar to the classroom. I’d love to see the day when 80 % or more get to the kids.
3-grant flexibility to reduce the number of days after testing. Amen to that too.
4-Rescind Act 388. The petition claims that this change has affected the budget crunch we are in. This particular request is based on inaccurate information. Remember, Act 388 was the property tax reform bill that removed the school operating portion from your home’s property tax bill. We added a penny to the sales tax to compensate (and guaranteed the funding should the penny fall short). Had we never passed 388, we would still have this very same budget problem we face now. We are in a serious recession and the drop in sales tax collections on the other portion of sales tax is the cause of the $300 million shortfall, not Act 388. Also, the petition doesn’t explain that 388 gave you property tax relief. A rescind of 388 would lead to higher property taxes. Sorry, can’t go there.
I’ll add another essential item if we really want to reform school funding…TRANSPARENCY. Here’s some math for you. Anderson 5 spends $8,628 (this figure does NOT include buildings and maintenance) per pupil per year. I’ve asked several teachers this question. You’ve got 20 students; do you see $172,560 per year in your classroom? 30 students: $274,840? I’m sure you know the answer. Teachers, parents, and the taxpayers deserve to see online how their money is being spent, down to the very penny.