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Washington County schools, students deserve more funds

Washington County Schools deserve more funds.
The announcement by Director of Schools Ron Dykes that the county spends $866 less on students enrolled here than the state average is upsetting.
When he added that Tennessee ranks 48 out of 50 states in per pupil funding, the news turned shocking!
Washington County spends $7,652 per student on K-12 education while Tennessee’s average is $8,518.
To reach the state’s average spending would cost the county an additional $7.2 million. Dykes recited these statistics at a recent meeting of the Washington County budget committee. The Schools Director was at the meeting to present the schools budget for 2010-2011.
According to a 2005 report on funding for K-12 schools from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the United States is tied for first place with Switzerland when it comes to annual spending per student on its public schools, with each of those two countries spending more than $11,000 (in U.S. currency).
Despite this high level of funding, according to the OECD, U.S. public schools lag behind the schools of other developed countries in the areas of reading, math, and science.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is an international economic organization of 31 countries.
It defines itself as a forum of countries committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a setting to compare policy experiences, seeking answers to common problems, identifying good practices, and coordinating domestic and international policies of its members.
According to an article in The Washington Post, the Washington, D.C., public school district spends $12,979 per student per year.
This is the third highest level of funding per student out of the 100 biggest school districts in the U.S.
One of the biggest debates in funding public schools is funding by local taxes or state taxes. The federal government supplies around 8.5% of the public school system funds, according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The remaining split between state and local governments averages 48.7 percent from states and 42.8 percent from local sources. However, the division varies widely.
In explaining why Washington County is spending less than the state average on its educational system while addressing a budget shortfall of a little more than $1.8 million, Dykes told County Commissioners that Grandview and Ridgeview Schools were opened without any additional funds.
The School System last budget year took the funds allocated for the 12 schools in the county and made them cover the grounds, teachers, and student needs of 14 schools.
Additionally, sales tax revenue experienced a drastic falling-off as the area’s economy worsened. Washington County Schools were left with $1.3 million less in sales tax collections and interest over a two-year period.
Dykes has shown concern for student activities like music and athletics in addition to academics. The Director of Schools says these extra-curricular activities keep children coming to school.
The August 5th Election will determine the new make-up of both the County Commission and County School Board.
Increased funding for Washington County Schools is a must despite the current recession.
While taxpayers have the right to expect that Commissioners will not increase taxes all at once to make up a $7.2 million shortfall from the state’s per student average spending, officials should begin to “narrow the gap.”
Good schools lead to good jobs for students, plus college education for many and a future good economy for Washington County.
Those individuals elected leaders of county government in August need to properly fund the County School System and this means increased funding for the 2010-2011 budget year.