Ever since voters soundly defeated Aiken County’s bond referendum two years ago, the school board has steadily added wasteful spending items to show everyone how smart they are.
The rejected bond included a natatorium for North Augusta High School, but now we are getting a football field house for Aiken High School instead. With the assistance of the local press, more money was wasted as area superintendents were made academic officers resulting in no financial savings. The move was praised as efficient and necessary by the local media, even though the district remains on an academic improvement plan per the No Child Left Behind law.
This improvement plan’s status seems to be a well-kept secret. Our district remains top-heavy with administration, yet the new budget calls for a 5 percent pay increase for administrators while teachers still lack basic resources to teach. The move to close area offices resulted in no loss of personnel or pay reductions; rather, job titles were changed. A district on a mandated academic improvement plan shouldn’t be spending money on anything except for instruction.
The proposed budget is $440,000 short, and this includes a tax increase and adds additional non-teaching personnel. It appears the computer system is about a decade out of date, and now monies have to be spent whether they are available or not. There is no reason to be optimistic that the local economy will improve, yet our school board continues to tax and spend as if they have a printing press for money.
No one seems to care and no worthy candidates will run against current board members in November. Aiken County continues to market itself as a haven for retirees, but they have no interest in quality schools, just low taxes. Meanwhile, Saluda County prospers as David Mathis leads their schools to prosperity, while ours continue to decline. Didn’t Dr. Mathis once work in Aiken County?
Prepare for increased taxes, lower test scores and more wasteful spending. There is no reason to believe otherwise.