Accountability, transparency desperately needed for education expenditures

Laurie Rogers, via email

The British are coming! The British are coming!
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
Public education needs more money! Public education needs more money!
One of these statements (had Paul Revere actually said it) was true. One of these statements is obviously false. And the third, well, skies don’t fall, silly.
Taxpayers keep hearing how the funding for public education has been cut. We’re constantly barraged with: “Money is tight.” “We’ve cut the budget to the bone.” “We’re running out of options.” “We’ve done all we can; now we have to cut programs and teachers.” These claims defy explanation. They aren’t true in Spokane. They aren’t true in Washington State. They aren’t true in most other states, and they aren’t true at the federal level. Unfortunately, many people believe them.
A city council candidate insisted recently: “We can’t gut education!” Last week, a Spokane reporter wrote: “Since 2002, Spokane Public Schools has cut $45 million from its budget…” In its budget forums last spring, district administrators and board directors told the public that since 2002, the district has cut $54 million from its budget. Spokane school board candidate Deana Brower has repeatedly said that the district needs more money.
Let’s look at some numbers. Follow the links to the budget documents. See how the budget has grown, and see the district’s tendency to budget for greater expenditures than it has in revenues.