So the federal Department of Education has these programs where it helps fund local school districts. Essentially, all the school districts have to do is qualify and apply, and presto, the school district gets some free federal dollars.
Richland County School District One happens to be one of these school districts. Accordingly, you would think that this would be a pretty straightforward process. The Dept. of Education wants to give out this money. I mean, hey, if there's one thing the federal government can do, it's shovel dollars out the door. All we have to do is go around and scoop it up.
So, what happened last year with Richland School District One? Well...the folks in charge of the budget failed to spend the money correctly, so they missed out on the reimbursement from the feds.
Last year, Richland School District One missed out on $1.4 million in federal funding designed to help the poorest students succeed because, according to South Carolina Department of Education Chief Communications Officer Ryan Brown, “the district unfortunately suffered from a lack of procedures and mismanagement of funds.” The total amount of that FY 2014-15 mistake – $1,413,482 – was the result of not spending a one-time carryover in Title 1 funding from the previous year.
So, it's like they essentially had this money "in the bank", but if they didn't spend it, it would disappear - and Richland One just did nothing. Poof. Money gone.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for thriftiness in budgeting, but I'm pretty sure that there was something worthwhile that Richland One could have found to spend $1.4 million bucks on.
So you would think that the folks at Richland One would really make sure they got all their ducks in a row for the next year, right? I mean, sure, we're all human. No one's perfect. Let's just take this as a $1.4 million dollar learning experience, and try to do better going forward.
All good, right?
Brown said despite extensive email and phone correspondence to Richland One from the department of education’s Office of Federal and State Accountability in the months and weeks leading up to the Aug. 15 deadline, Richland One’s Title 1 office failed to meet the federal deadline to be reimbursed for $3.1 million in FY 2015-16 funds it already had spent.
Again! Even with the state office holding their hands like little children, the folks at Richland One still failed to get things submitted by the deadline! We're just talking about paperwork here. No one's asking them to build a rocket. Just do the paperwork. Push the paper. That's it!
For those of you scoring at home, that's roughly $5.5 million dollars in money that the federal government is trying to give Richland One, but the folks in Richland One are too incompetent to figure out how to get it.
So now the children who go to school in Richland One at the poorest, most needy schools are missing out, or will have money from other programs diverted, because the people whose sole job it is to budget and spend the money for the schools can't get their act together?
To quote the Bobs from Office Space, "What would you say, you do here?" It's just amazing that this happens two years in a row. You would think these folks would be ready to go this year after looking like nincompoops last year.
People have to be fired. People have to be told "You failed once, we gave you another chance, and you failed again in exactly the same way. Get out." Punishments need to be real. Consequences need to be real. No probation, no shuffling to another department, gone. Bye. Out the door, don't come back.
What is our school board going to do about this? Are they going to just continue to accept failure upon failure? The federal government is trying to hand out money to the most needy students, and we can't even get people competent enough to figure out how to accept the gift.
Damn, this is why people hate the government.