In the 1993 comedy-drama “Dave,” a comedian posing as president persuades his friend Murray Blum, an accountant, to come to the White House and show him how to cut $650 million from the budget.
They do it, and audiences for two decades have been laughing at the thought of it.
Now there’s Todd Garrett, the Charleston County School Board’s answer to Murray. The first-year board member didn’t like the administration’s idea of raising taxes to increase its budget by up to $10 million.
The district was already getting $382.3 million, as compared to the present year’s $357 million.
So at Monday’s school board meeting, Mr. Garrett suggested a cut here and a cut there, and eventually recommended a budget that would not raise taxes but would still provide for special initiatives the administration was seeking.
Our public boards could use some more Todd Garretts.
People attending the meeting cheered, and the entire board, minus Chris Fraser, voted for Mr. Garrett’s revisions.
It is not unusual for agencies to push to get as much public money as they can, believing they can accomplish a lot more and do it more effectively with the additional funds.
But what is unusual is an elected board member to get out his red pencil and look for specific cuts.
What is more unusual is for him to find ways to cut expenses without forgoing special new programs and expenditures.
Even after Mr. Garrett’s cuts, teachers will receive a pay increase and all employees will get a cost-of-living increase. The district will add 15 pre-kindergarten classes.
Rural schools will get extra money, as will three suburban schools, to decrease class sizes. And all elementary schools will get some help paying for computer lab teachers.
Ed Potter, who attended the meeting to support funding for the large schools, was “blown away.”
And those who really didn’t want to see taxes rise were pleased too.
Whether they, like Dave, will live happily ever after remains to be seen. No one at the meeting showed that Todd Garrett’s thinking was flawed. But the administration would still like the additional $10 million.
Todd Garrett has done his job as representative of District 20. His budget supports important educational enhancements while still being fiscally responsible.
Now it’s the Charleston County School District’s turn to work within that budget to make sure education is indeed enhanced for all Charleston County children.
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