My household also received two Fake Rob Britt letters – both with no return address and two different handwriting styles that do not match Mr. Ball’s envelope. Boy, Fake Rob Britt sure gets around I guess. It is rather disappointing to see our tax dollars used to fund tax lobbying efforts to take more of our tax dollars. Even the county school web sites are in on the tax increase lobby game. We are paying for those too.
Well, the approach is new, but the information is tired. I have previously debunked the “Exemplary” district claim here, showing that for starters, the “exemplary” rating is only a measure of greatest improvement in score, not a measure of actual scores. I also showed how of these 21 “Exemplary” school systems, 18 districts spend “below the state average”, so “exemplary” doesn’t seem to correlate with spending more money. This seems to be the holy grail for Blount County schools. If only they had more money…uh I mean “resources”, just imagine what they could do! At least that is the idea that Fake Rob Britt espouses.
The new claim for this round of tax-payer-funded tax increase lobbying is that Blount County schools is the 16th largest district in the state and only 28.6% of the county property tax revenue is distributed to the schools. Well, that may be true, but that is only part of the picture. You see, property taxes are only a portion of the County tax revenue. Remember sales taxes? Fake Rob Britt is intentionally leaving that out for you. If you’ll take a look at the latest adopted Blount County budget here, you can see on page 33 that the total County estimated revenue is $164,130,310. Pages 110-135 show all of the appropriations of County revenue that go to the County school system – not including capital improvements like new construction. That total is $80,100,000. That’s 48.8% of all county tax revenue being distributed to schools. This is very close to the state tax revenue percentage. Last time I checked, approximately 45% of all state-level tax revenue was distributed to public education. So, no matter how you slice it, approximately half of every dollar of property taxes and sales taxes you pay go to public schools. If you’ll do a little studying on pages 110-135 of the County budget and only count the amounts going to salaries and benefits, you will also see that nearly 84% of the $80,100,000 distributed to the County school system is spent on salaries and benefits. If you take a look at Fake Rob Britt’s new proposed budget (which he calls “zero growth”) they work in $2.9 MILLION in salary and benefit raises. I guess 84% of the budget just wasn’t enough.
Of course, if you listen to Fake Rob Britt and the other tax lobbying agents’ appeal “for the children” here, you would think the only things that could be cut are chairs, school buses, textbooks, the school nurse and guidance counselors. And of course, the classrooms will go from 23 students to 35 students. Are you scared enough to vote for a tax increase yet?
Well, what about that $8,701 per student per year we are spending in Blount County and always wanting more so we can meet the state average? Take a look at how this number has fared over the last several years:
|Academic Year||Spending ($/student)||Number of students||Number of teachers||student/teacher ratio|
|*=Total professional staff|
|% increase of students since 2000:||-0.4|
|% increase of spending since 2000:||62.7|
|% increase of teachers since 2000:||17.38|
These numbers all come from the state Report Card website. Keep in mind these numbers represent the County schools’ expenditures, but do not include capital improvements, like new school additions or construction. I thought it might be interesting to compare this year’s budget to 1999-2000. This was when the rash of new school construction was first under way – and we were on our way to today’s quarter-billion in variable rate demand option debt. The figures in red show you the difference between then and now. We have a lower student population, 17.38% more employees teaching less students and we are spending 62.7% more to teach less students. Plus, we are a quarter-billion in debt. Look at the teacher/student ratio. We would have to fire half the teachers to get to 30:1. Why haven’t the Blount County Schools experienced the unemployment rate that all their neighbors they ask to pay them have? Unemployed folk do not generate a lot of sales tax revenue. Neither do foreclosed properties generate property taxes. Fake Rob Britt claims that the County schools have been cutting a lot of money out of the budget over the last several years, including before the “great recession”. As you can see, Blount County school spending has increased every single year for the last 14 years. You want to claim to have made “budget cuts”, while you have spending increases every year? You acknowledge the recession and loss of tax revenue, yet spent more money every single year!
Blount County schools don’t need more money. They need to study their neighbors:
You can send a student to Maryville Christian School for less than $7,400 per year. A 15% savings over Blount County!
You can send a student to The King’s Academy in Seymour (lunch included) for $6,950 per year. A 20% savings over Blount County!
And Blount County is asking for more?
Think about this. If Blount County could just let go of the federal dollars and get to where MCS and TKA are currently operating in a free market, all the Common Core garbage goes away and they could have their freedom back.