Florida School District Impresses Taxpayers by Saving $5.3 Million, Then Disappoints by Frittering it Away
Florida’s Lake County school district recently decided to re-structure its school day – from “block” scheduling to a full seven classes a day– and saved $5.3 million in the process.
District leaders trumpeted a plan to use that money to hire 96 employees – 83 of whom would work directly with students. The idea was to direct more money into the classroom, where it can directly benefit students.
But that plan has been replaced by a new one that calls for district leaders to piddle away most of the $5.3 million savings on new employees who won’t instruct students at all.
OrlandoSun.com columnist Lauren Ritchie reports:
“When the plan goes before the School Board on Monday, members will be asked to spend only a quarter of the $5.3 million on human beings actually teaching students. About $1.3 million would pay for 21 teachers and 15 teacher aides …
“About $2.3 million of it is to hire 45 more new employees with titles ranging from ‘program innovation and evaluation specialist’ to ‘certified testing facilitator.’ None will be doing any teaching, but 16 of them will be watching students take tests or work on computers.
“Another $1 million is set aside for teacher salary increases and bonuses.
“The rest, in typical School Board spending style, would pay for everything from $170,000 worth of useless consultants to $20,000 worth of travel, $76,000 in computers and supplies to $84,000 in ‘professional development.’”
Ritchie thinks it would have been wiser to use the pot of money to hire a slew of teacher aides for the lowest-performing schools.