AKRON, Ohio – The people who decide how school districts spend their money don’t seem to approach things very logically.
On the surface, it should be simple enough. You make sure there is enough money to hire quality teachers and administrators, purchase adequate supplies for students, and provide decent buildings for them to learn in.
Everything else should be secondary.
But simple logic obviously has nothing to do with school spending. A quick look at the spending records in the Akron school district in 2012-13 makes that perfectly clear.
This is a district operating with a $16 million budget deficit. Within the last few years it has cut 84 teaching jobs, the middle school sports program, language and music classes, and even a unique anti-bullying program.
Oh well, you might say. At least the school is doing something to address its money problems.
But is it doing enough? And are outside forces, like the state and federal governments, making their best effort to help the district, and others like it, put every available penny to the best possible use?
In 2012-13, the district spent $110,847 on upscale hotels around the nation for various professional conferences, $540,807 on legal fees, $138,368 on various forms of student entertainment, $44,327 on restaurants and catering, $31,066 on a program for adolescent boys based on African drum beats, and $25,445 to rent space at various convention centers and country clubs.
Then there’s the $1.6 million in salary paid to the 14 highest compensated employees in the district. That’s a full 10 percent of the entire budget deficit.