Green Questions State Spending Claims

Many District Costs Down Since 2012

WINNSBORO – Dr. Mick Zais, State Superintendent of Education, last week targeted nine S.C. school districts he said spent more on operations costs in 2011-2012 than on teacher salaries. Among those districts was the Fairfield County School District, which Zais said spent $2,384 per student on operations. Operations costs, according to Zais, include maintenance, data processing and business operations, as well as legal fees and district office staff salaries.

“I am very disappointed to see that nearly 11 percent of districts in our state spent more money on district operations than on teacher salaries,” Zais said. “These data give taxpayers insight into where their money goes.”

J.R. Green, Superintendent of Fairfield County Schools, said that since his tenure with the District began with the 2012-2013 school year, he was at a disadvantage when it comes to explaining Zais’ data. But, he said he found the release of two-year-old data both confusing and frustrating.

“(Zais) often does this,” Green said, “throwing old data out there without telling you how he arrived at these figures. He’s trying to promote some type of agenda, it seems.”

Zais’ data is based on a statewide average teacher salary of $47,376, with an average class size of 22 students. Green said Fairfield’s average class size was approximately 19 students and that teacher salaries were more or less consistent with the statewide average.

Furthermore, Green said, even before he arrived in the District, reductions were being made in District office staff.

“And we haven’t added any (District office staff), apart from the project manager (for the career center construction) since I’ve been here,” Green said.

The greatest reduction in operation expenses during his tenure, Green said, has been in legal fees. During the 2011-2012 school year, from which Zais draws his data, the Fairfield County School District spent $351,403 in legal fees. The following year, that figure was down to $166,306. As of February of this year, Green said, the District had spent only 12 percent (approximately $34,000) of the $282,707 it had budgeted for legal fees.

“That puts us on track to spend less than $100,000 (on legal fees) by the end of the year,” Green said, “so, we’ve taken huge steps in reducing that. Regardless of what method (Zais) used (to compile his data), if legal fees are a part of that, then we’re better off than we were two years ago.”

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