The progressive think tank Center for American Progress recently ranked Lincoln County Schools as one of the most productive districts in the state for the 2010-2011 school year — meaning that every dollar spent on education in the county had a high return on investment (ROI) in terms of academic achievement.
Education funding in the county for that year, according to the report, totaled more than $150 million. A local contribution of $74.7 million during that year was significantly higher, to the tune of between $10 million-$30 million, than the local contribution of districts with similar enrollments.
We believe the study’s measures, more than anything else, illustrate the quality and diligence of the teachers in the district.
Per pupil spending in the county, according to the report, put the system in the lowest 20 districts in the state. But the county’s achievement index ranked it in the top 25 districts in the state.
Lincoln County teachers are doing more with less.
It’s no secret that education spending has been one of the primary targets of the state’s Republican General Assembly. And this paper’s editorial board has taken the position in the past that education spending, like all other state-funded institutions, needs to be constantly combed for waste and ineffective use of taxpayer dollars.
That doesn’t mean the state should offer token raises to early-career teachers and call it a day. Public education in North Carolina needs more effective oversight and investigation of the areas where waste is likely to occur, specifically in contracts between schools districts and private companies.
Eliminating waste will free up those tax dollars to be allocated to the places where they can have a meaningful impact on academic achievement in the state.
Lincoln County students are already achieving great things, thanks in no small part to educators who grasp the importance of their work and its absolute necessity to the functioning of our democracy. A leaner, more effective statewide system will only propel that achievement to greater heights.