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Guilford taxpayers asked to pony up for schools

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In 1781, Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis of the British Army defeated Major General Nathanael Greene in a brief but critical Revolutionary War skirmish later known as the Battle of Guilford Court House

As far as I can tell, it was the last time the pro-tax side won a major battle in Guilford County.  (ba-dum ching)

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CommenTerry

Next month, voters in Guilford County will determine whether to approve a quarter-cent increase in the county sales tax.  Proponents say that the additional revenue will be used for much-needed increases to the Guilford County Schools budget.  Opponents point out that a tax increase would impede economic growth and have a disproportionate effect on low-income residents.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about education spending these days.  Overall, Guilford County Schools spent $662.3 million or $9,213 per student to operate their public school system in 2013.  Both were higher than the 2012 totals, which were $649.7 million and $9,076 per student, respectively.  The public will receive updated spending and enrollment figures in coming months, which allow us to compare spending through 2014.  At this point, those data are not available from the state.

So why are so many convinced that public school funding has taken a nosedive?  I suspect that advertisements supporting the reelection of Senator Kay Hagan likely convinced the typical resident of Guilford County that their schools have been the victims of massive cuts at the hands of House Speaker Thom Tillis and eeeevil Republicans in Raleigh.  That is not true, either locally or statewide.  According to N.C. Department of Public Instruction statistics, state spending for K-12 schools in Guilford County increased by nearly $30 million between 2010 and 2013.  That led to a $300 per student increase during this period.  Since 2010, state funding growth for elementary and secondary education hovers around the $1 billion mark.

Of course, state funds represent only around two-thirds of the money provided to public schools.  Indeed, some of the state increases were offset by decreases in federal funding, which in recent years have fluctuated between 10 and 15 percent of the total funding for public schools. Guilford County Schools spent fewer federal dollars in 2013 than they did in any of the previous three years.  Much of this was due to the expiration of large federal grants distributed to districts statewide.

But residents of Guilford County are most interested in what they can control directly — local funding for schools.  In 2013, the district spent $209.4 million in local funds for operating expenses, an 11 percent increase from the year prior.  That increase added $286 in local per pupil spending during the same period.

How does this compare to districts statewide?  In 2013, Guilford County Schools had the 44th highest per-pupil expenditure in the state, climbing 14 spots from 2011.  In terms of local funding, Guilford County taxpayers provided the 11th highest per-student expenditure in the state.  In other words, in 2013 only ten other counties allocated more per pupil funding to their public schools than Guilford County.

One may argue that the increases were not sufficient, but it takes a lot of imagination to conclude that there were no increases.

The question of sufficient funding is a valid one.  But I would ask, sufficient funding for what?  If the sole purpose of increasing education spending were increasing education spending, then I would argue that we have been diverted from our goal of ensuring that all children receive a superior education.  Regrettably, outcomes seldom become the focus of campaigns to drain additional resources from taxpayers, particularly those who can least afford it.

Facts and Stats

Current Expenditures by Source of Funds, Guilford County Schools

Year

Source
State

Source
Federal

Source
Local

Source
Total

2013

 $374,061,610

 $78,843,705

 $209,397,036

 $662,302,351

2012

 $370,426,469

 $91,278,697

 $188,032,664

 $649,737,830

2011

 $346,520,645

 $87,938,669

 $193,705,047

 $628,164,361

2010

 $346,776,592

 $88,655,570

 $193,978,985

 $629,411,147

2009

 $381,307,701

 $64,783,941

 $203,441,773

 $649,533,415

2008

 $375,212,071

 $62,458,736

 $199,514,784

 $637,185,591

2007

 $343,542,863

 $54,563,086

 $185,845,216

 $583,951,165

2006

 $314,448,381

 $53,834,609

 $165,340,784

 $533,623,774

2005

 $296,752,140

 $45,379,325

 $157,882,601

 $500,014,066

2004

 $282,992,921

 $43,303,260

 $154,530,681

 $480,826,862

Per Pupil Expenditures and Ranks, Guilford County Schools

Year

State
PPE

State
Rank

Federal
PPE

Federal
Rank

Local
PPE

Local
Rank

Total
PPE

Total
Rank

Capital
Outlay (5 Year Average)

Capital
Outlay
Rank

Grand Total

2013

$5,203.60

97

$1,096.81

69

$2,912.95

11

$9,213.36

44

$934.56

15

$10,147.92

2012

$5,174.49

98

$1,275.08

66

$2,626.63

11

$9,076.20

49

$1,042.28

16

$10,118.48

2011

$4,865.02

105

$1,234.64

100

$2,719.54

8

$8,819.20

58

$1,212.32

16

$10,031.52

2010

$4,904.22

105

$1,253.76

82

$2,743.31

9

$8,901.29

58

$1,302.05

16

$10,203.34

2009

$5,372.95

106

$912.86

69

$2,866.67

10

$9,152.48

57

$1,301.80

11

$10,454.28

2008

$5,306.57

104

$883.35

60

$2,821.71

11

$9,011.63

55

$1,271.83

9

$10,283.46

2007

$4,930.51

106

$783.07

81

$2,667.25

10

$8,380.83

56

$1,233.81

10

$9,614.64

2006

$4,616.23

106

$790.32

78

$2,427.27

12

$7,833.82

63

$1,112.18

12

$8,946.00

2005

$4,471.39

105

$683.76

86

$2,378.92

11

$7,534.07

61

$1,040.91

16

$8,574.98

2004

$4,345.85

108

$665.00

88

$2,373.08

10

$7,383.93

49

$1,080.31

19

$8,464.24

 

Guilford County Schools Personnel, 2014

Assignment

State Fund

Federal Fund

Local Fund

Total Fund

Official Adm., Mgrs.

20

8

39

67

Principals

124

0

1

125

Ast. Principals, Teaching

0

0

0

0

Ast. Principals, Nonteaching

92

0

32

124

Elementary Teachers

2039

220

281

2540

Secondary Teachers

1029

28

101

1158

Other Teachers

944

273

67

1284

Guidance

148

0

60

208

Psychological

33

2

9

44

Librarian, Audiovisual

87

0

28

115

Consultant, Supervisor

2

29

4

35

Other Professional

319

90

176

585

Teacher Assistants

873

215

81

1169

Technicians

0

5

85

90

Clerical, Secretarial

46

9

463

518

Service Workers

969

0

317

1286

Skilled Crafts

50

0

94

144

Laborers, Unskilled

0

0

12

12

TOTAL

6775

879

1850

9504

Source: N.C. Department of Public Instruction, Financial and Business Services, Statistical Profile Online

Acronym of the Week

GCS — Guilford County Schools

Quote of the Week

"They say they have given us more money, but they don’t take into consideration the growth in student body."

— Guilford County School Board member Darlene Garrett, quoted in the News & Record

Click here for the Education Update archive.

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Dr. Stoops is the director of the Center for Effective Education. Before joining the Locke Foundation in 2005, he worked as the program assistant for the Child Welfare Education Programs at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. He… ...

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