Q&A of the Day – Are we being scammed by South Florida’s School Districts?
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1
Today’s entry: Hi Brian, I remembered your recent show re the proposed property taxes by the county and decided to peek in mine. I focused on the public-school category which represents 40% of my taxes. I was surprised to see that the total had not changed (actually went up slightly) from last year’s actual. I called the county and I asked how this could be possible when schools have been closed all year. I was told that I have been misinformed. It is true that they haven’t held classes, yet all the teachers have been diligently working on preparing their curricula. I asked how is it that costs have not dropped when schools are closed, and busses are not moving. She admitted that there have been some savings, but they only amounted to about 1% of their operating costs (~$26 million) and in fact they have decided to put the savings in reserve for next year. I questioned the cost savings as they appeared very low to me but to no avail. Crazy! I just thought I’d share. Thank you for the informative shows.
Bottom Line: It’s great that you took the time to review your property taxes to confirm how much you’re paying in taxes directly to the school district. Even better that you followed up with questions regarding school spending. It’s unfortunate but instructive that you were misled. What you were told is demonstrably false. First, speaking directly to the transportation conversation using Palm Beach County’s completed 2019-2020 budget...
- 5% of all school district employees work in transportation
- And related to the total budget expense attached to classroom only education:
- 15% of the budget is transportation, school police and custodian staff
How do I know? It’s all spelled out on page 45 of the budget. Either the person you spoke to is admitting to accounting fraud by the District, or you were lied to. I’d like to say I’m surprised however it’s sadly consistent with what's happened over the years. Thankfully there are teachers and administrators who are as concerned as we are about the lack of fiscal responsibility and accountability of South Florida’s school districts and share information with me from time to time. To give you an idea of how dishonest the District has been previously... I’ve been informed of an internal reprimand for an educator simply emailing one of my stories to others & have even had an education reporter target me for my reporting based on dated financial data after the PBC School District ignored multiple attempts from me to obtain real-time information.
Unfortunately, we can’t count on other news outlets to hold South Florida’s School Districts accountable for spending. They’re often too afraid to lose access to officials, too ignorant to question effectively and/or aligned politically and willing to go along with the lack of accountability. But here’s the even bigger slap in the face. How much more money are you earning this year in the middle of this virus induced recession? There’s no recession for our school districts. Not only are those in the education establishment earning record incomes, the increase in spending by school district looks like this for the 2020-2021 school year:
- Broward: 2.4%
- Miami-Dade: 7.5%
- Palm Beach County: 11%
Even with the extensive waste of money on the distance learning tools – the increase in spending for services not provided without classroom education far exceeds the cost. So where’s the money? Where’s the accountability? This is where others need to do what you’ve done. Start making some noise and get engaged. Remember every public-school official works for and is paid for by us. They’re just not used to being held accountable. That’s what must change. Starting with us.