Where to Find School Money

Editorial Commentary

        Now that the race for Portland's Mayor heats up between Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales the ugly specter of a state wide sales tax once again raises its head. Now I'm  an older guy and ever since I can remember, year after year, a sales tax has been voted down by the tax paying citizens. It is what makes Oregon different, a destination state for nearby Washington state residents coming here to avoid their sales tax. California too!  Now, they are talking about a sales  tax because they think that the schools need more money  No they do not.  Here is the problem as I see it.

        If my task was to find ways to waste tax dollars, you know how I'd do it?  I'd create a couple a hundred bureaucracies that just do the same thing.  I'd give them all a superintendent with a big salary, an administrative staff, with offices and buildings, oh, and a bunch of vehicles.  All bureaucracies have to have vehicles to drive around in and maintenance guys with big rings of official looking keys.  And one more thing!!  None of the people that carry the keys, or drive the vehicles, or occupy the administrative offices, or any of the administrative staff or even the superintendent do the actual job the bureaucracy was created to do.

        Isn't that brilliant of me to figure out, all by myself how to waste millions?  Oh wait, it has already been done.  Any resemblance between the bureaucracies I described and the 250 plus school districts the state is burdened with is purely intentional.

        Awhile back I  saw a TV ad that said about 45 cents of every tax dollar goes to schools.  That's crap!  The money goes to superintendents, administrators, and overhead and damned little trickles down to the actual class room.   That is why class sizes are bigger.

        I have nothing but respect for the teachers that struggle every day to teach kids, taking money out of their own pockets for the class, but does Oregon really need 250 different districts?  Could we  get along with say, four regional districts?  School districts vary in size from the money gobbling Portland district to the tiny Fossil Oregon district with only about 100 or so kids.  Do 100 kids need their own district or  could they be a part of another district?  Every group has their own agenda for fixing schools and now the sales tax idea pops up again, again, again! But if the plan doesn't gut  administrative costs it is not a plan.

        The Oregonian ran an article awhile back where a fella by the name of Lekas that owns a management company tried to figure out some of the schools budgets. He looked at seven schools and concluded the budgets were “incomprehensible.”  He calculated if all the local school support staff were fired there would be $9,000 for each elementary student, $10,000 for each middle school student and $11,000 for each high school student.  That gives you an idea of how much money goes to administration.  I call that a plan! 

        When they ask for more money for schools remember that the schools are not poorly funded and do not need more money. They need less administration.  Remember  two things: Redundancy is our natural enemy and there is always money for the 3 “Bs” Bureaucrats, bombs and bullets!

By Don DuPay