Rosewood Middle School in Goldsboro is in the news for a plan that lets students boost test scores by making a donation to the school (See article). I find this whole episode troubling on several levels, not the least of which is the plan amount to nothing less than selling of grades and teaching young people a very bad lesson.
While the last year has forced everyone – including schools – to do more with less, before parents reach for their wallets — again , wouldn’t it be prudent if we all knew how schools are spending taxpayer money? According to the Department of Public Instruction, Wayne County Public Schools spent about $8,300 per student in 2008-09. About 82 percent of all funds were spent on salaries and benefits. A quick review of the 2008-09 budget for the Wayne County Schools shows the county spends about $150 million on schools and about $122 million for “Instructional Programs”. While $79 million is defined as “Regular” instruction, the remaining $43 million is divided among such categories as: special instructional programs ($19 million); alternative/remedial education ($9 million); co-curricular programs ($6 million) and student services ($9 million). The last four categories all deserve closer review, especially co-curricular programs and student services. Why co-curricular and student services are even categorized as instructional programming is another question, but I digress. Curiously, it turns out about 35 percent of the “instructional” program budget is not directly related to instruction. Fifteen million dollars for co-curricular and student services? That’s a lot of money. Can budget reductions be made without compromising school responsibilities? That’s a question that needs to be asked. If Rosewood Middle School and the Wayne County Schools are seriously looking for additional money,areview of the local school budget might be a better tool for generating real savings — rather than automatically asking parents to donate to grade-selling schemes