in Houston, Texas
Record jumbotron blots out academic value questions in Carthage
Thursday, Aug 16, 2012, 02:17PM CST
By Curt Olson
Scoreboard

Carthage Independent School District has its priorities straight. The biggest stadium jumbotron screen in Texas to go along with high student spending, middling academic results and a virtual freeze on hiring teachers.

The East Texas district of 2,800 students, winners of three straight 3A state football championships in 2008-10, the place “where champions are educated,” as its website crows, has laid out $750,000 for a 24-ton, 50-foot-high scoreboard with a 1,200 square-foot screen, the
Longview News-Journal reports.

Spending has not been a problem for Carthage ISD. According to the state Comptroller’s Financial Allocation Study for Texas has one of the higher annual rates of spending per pupil, $10,299.

Couple it with the overall academic progress and Carthage ISD got a rating of 1 ½  out of a top grade of 5 stars. The study showed the district maintaining a $13.7 million balance in its general fund when $4.9 million was considered optimum.

And while per pupil spending remained high, it wasn’t because of staff. Carthage added just 1.5 teacher positions and one principal for this past school year as compared to the year before, according to a Texas Tribune database. At the same time, the district cut seven teacher, two specialized educator and almost one assistant principal positions.

The district paid for its mammoth scoreboard from a recent school bond issue. Some people in the district love it and others think it’s wasteful spending, the News-Journal says.

While Friday night lights will be brighter than ever before on the football field in Carthage, taxpayers may wonder whether things are shining just as bright in the classroom.

***

Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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Photo of Scoreboard by flickr user BariD, used via a Creative Commons license.

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