The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Increased Funding Not Helping Students

with 3 comments

Education Funding in SCCall it “Playing the Education Card.”

Government in South Carolina keeps getting bigger, and spending keeps getting higher. Tell lawmakers enough is enough, and they’ll say “What about the teachers? What about the children?”

But what they really seem to mean is: “What about the Department of Education?” As Secretary of Education Jim Rex recently noted, the department’s budget has been cut by 20 percent since FY2008—that is, since the beginning of the current recession. (Actually, it’s been cut by 16.89 percent, but we’ll forgive the rounding error.)

But Department of Education (DOE) spending is not the same as total K-12 spending. In fact, DOE appropriations only account for about half of total K-12 spending. Other K-12 education funding sources include local funding, bond revenues, intergovernmental transfers, and other miscellaneous accounting items.

Once we look at these figures, we see that total funding increased by 2 percent over last year alone and by 9 percent since the beginning of the recession.

Moreover, average per pupil spending does not include local bond revenue. Once we include such revenue, total K-12 spending since the recession shows an increase of 18.94 percent.

Spending Including Bond Revenues

So where is the money going? Even though total education funding has increased, that does not mean schools have more money to reward good teachers or pursue innovative instructional techniques.

In part, this is because federal dollars are making up an ever larger share of education funding. And although federal funding still makes up the smallest component of total education spending, such funding increased rapidly in FY10-2011, rising by 26 percent.

The problem is that most federal funding for education is “restricted”—it has to be used for programs defined by the feds. And as a greater share of student funding comes from restricted, or categorical, funds, principals and school districts become even more hamstrung in how they can allocate financial resources. This explains why, even though they may be flush with (restricted) funds, some school districts are furloughing teachers.

The solution: Weighted Student Funding. Read more here and here.


Written by Robert Appel

July 30, 2010 at 11:06 am

Posted in Budget, Public education

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. Won’t someone think of the children!!!


    August 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm

  2. […] pointed out before that Superintendent Rex’s numbers don’t always add up, or at least rarely tell the whole story […]

  3. Sophistry. And I don’t know why. It’s not as black and white as you make it out to be. Look at states with much higher expenditures in many areas of government, and I’ll show you states with lower drop out rates, better test scores, and so on and so forth. Have you thought about supporting anything like what New Hampshire has done with highschool dropouts (a program that has practically reduced the drop out rate to zero)? I doubt it. And that is what tells me you people are disengenuous, that you don’t care so much about the things you say, like education, but rather you care about big business interests that you’re likely tied to. You’re snake oil salesman and I think a pretty low form of life.


    September 21, 2010 at 1:13 am

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