Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CCSD Budget Opaque as Usual

Transparency refers to an environment in which the objectives of policy, its legal, institutional, and economic framework, policy decisions and their rationale, data and information related to monetary and financial policies, and the terms of agencies’ accountability, are provided to the public in a comprehensible, accessible, and timely manner.
That's the definition posted on line by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). As you can see, by this measure the Charleston County Schools Superintendent, her policy-making and budget, and the CCSD School Board share an obvious lack of transparency in virtually every way!

Of course, the opacity of CCSD's budget process and result is hardly new, as anyone attempting to follow the process has already discovered. Despite promises to the contrary, including promises from new board members, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."[the more things change, the more they stay the same.]

The budget about to be unveiled to the public does not include the school level breakout requested (and promised!) for many years. Neither School Board members nor others can see to compare utility costs, administrative positions and transportation costs between comparable schools. There is also no coherent representation of these figures from previous years for each school.

Now we have a line item identified as "parochial, private and charter school" distribution. No doubt the new Catholic Bishop will be puzzling over that one, not to speak of the headmaster at Porter-Gaud! CCSD's charter schools are public schools; they are not parochial or private. If charter schools are so different from "regular" public schools, let's be consistent and use a similar breakout for magnet schools in Charleston County.

To add insult to injury, apparently Superintendent McGinley will ask the board to support creating an additional senior administrative position with this budget. Yes, you read that correctly. Another $100,000-per-year in salary and benefits for an educrat. In light of all the cuts to the classrooms countywide, is it wise to be adding administrative staff?

Finally, the combined millage being requested for the General Operating Fund and Capital Fund is the largest figure ever proposed in the history of CCSD. Further, as CCSD nears the end of its five-year capital fund cycle, its actual budget's exceeding $600 million represents a nearly 20 percent cost overrun from the original budget of $508 million.

Fed up yet? Call your School Board members to complain.


Anonymous said...

PLease watch for the budget posting.
If teachers are furloughed 7th and 8th CCSD must post all expenses over $100 dollars on a public accessible website.

that should be pretty revealing!

Anonymous said...

Don't count on CCSD revealing anything without a lot of foot dragging. Mike Bobby is already trying to figure out how to hide the numbers in spite of the new law.

When one board member asked how he could find the cost of administrative staff at the school level, Bobby wanted to know which school. The board member said every one of them.

As if to imply that would be a lot of work, Bobby acted like he didn't understand the question. The board member said "Just send me a copy of your Excel spread sheet showing all employees at every school." It was a lot easier than the chielf financial officer let on.

You see, they have exactly what is necessary for transparency. They just don't want to give it up.