Where Did The Money Go?

Higher sales tax, higher property tax, wheel tax, all in the name of education. Tax, Tax, Tax, seems that's all we hear now days. And in our case, local government tells us they must have more tax money for the schools. But what proof is there that the schools need more money? Where does the money go? Let me explain.

Last week I brought you the story explaining how incredibly over staffed the Loudon County system currently is and that their expenditures had risen by ten million dollars in five years. This begs the question, where did the money go? Certainly not to maintenance given the condition of some of the schools. We know millions were spent on worthless land and at least a few dollars were spent for a Gatlinburg rest and retreat. But that doesn't account for ten million dollars in five years.

Using documents directly from the BOE, in the 2002-2003 fiscal school year, the Loudon County Board Of Education had 529 employees listed on their payroll. this included 283 teachers and 78 teacher assistants. The 2007-2008 payroll data sheet lists a 618 employees. This includes 339 teachers and 112 assistants. That's an increase of 56 teachers and 34 assistants in five years. Yet in the same five year period, less than 200 students have been added to the enrollment. Average teacher pay $40,000.00 plus benefits. Average assistant pay, $15,000.00 plus benefits. You do the math. How can 90 additional employees be justified with such a small student increase in enrollment? If out of county students were eliminated, the Loudon County system would have actually seen negative growth over the last five years.

Here's where it gets real expensive for local government and ultimately the tax payers. Using a formula based of the states required teacher student ratio the state of Tennessee pays 75% of teacher's salaries for all teachers required to meet the states minimum teacher student ratio requirements with the local government providing the 25% balance. All teachers hired by the BOE above the state requirement must be paid 100% with local funds. Loudon County currently has approximately one hundred and fifty non state funded positions.

In review, over the last five years, the BOE expenditures have gone up ten million dollars. Over the last five years the BOE has hired 90 additional employees. Over the last five years, the student enrollment has increased by 180 plus or minus.

Either for lack of ability or unwillingness, the BOE refuses to address their financial issues but simply continues to ask for more and more money. There's no doubt Loudon schools have some desperate needs but the BOE must get their house in order. More money will not solve the root problem and it is unthinkable to ask the citizens to give more when what they have given has been so mismanaged. County commission must demand the BOE address their staffing problems before they make a hundred million dollar mistake.