Below are two videos from the most interesting budget meeting held on April 4 at Liberty Middle School. The first highlights some of the citizen input.
This video is a few weeks old. The state has since promised the district more funds. By final reading the budget had eliminated 70 positions only (not 85) and I think the deficit estimate for the following year is about $1 million (not $2.8 million).
I donít have much to say about the citizen input of this meeting. Many of the same people spoke at this meeting as the March 28 meeting. There were a few recurring themes, one of which was the board was driven by politics. Untrue.
Politics is a broad term that has anything to do with government. In the negative sense it means politicians saying things and making votes solely to garner votes for the next election.
None of the positions or statements I made at the March 28 or April 4 meetings were political or made for the purpose of gathering votes.
To sum up the March 28 and April 4 meetings, speakers said give us this or donít cut that. My response, as well as the majority of the board and the Superintendent to a large degree, was we didnít have the money to pay for all that you want.
I believe in living within your means, and spending money on items that have the greatest impact on educating a child. If my aim was to gather votes, I would have just said and did exactly what the crowd wanted ó spend, spend spend, rather than opposed them.
Politicians play to the crowd; they don't oppose it.
Ms. Esuary spoke to the board and her comment caught my interest. She is a school district employee and I disagree with what she said, ďSome of our board members are in favor of making permanent cuts; Iím not in favor of permanent cuts.Ē
I was the board member advocating permanent cuts in non-classroom areas.
Revenue has fallen 4 years in a row from $104 million to $94 million. When she said that I thought, has she invented some way for the district to take a $10 million reduction in revenue, not make permanent spending cuts and still balance the budget? Unless you borrow the difference or have that much in savings, it can't be done.
Maybe she was talking about this point, which is remotely related to permanent spending reductions.
This budget has about $1.5 million in non-recurring revenue or one time money for 2011-12. From 0 to $1,801 the base student cost is funded with recurring revenue. Everything the state is giving our district above that is non-recurring or one-time money. There are also one-time school district asset sales and lease buy backs that are adding revenue only for 2011-12.
My feeling on that was we shouldn't rely on that money. That is, it would be a mistake to fund little Johnnyís 3 grade math teacher with that money. Likely, that money will not re-appear next year.
Instead my position was to bring our costs down by making permanent cuts in non-classroom areas, so we don't have to rely on unstable or one-time funding shots to fund permanent positions.
If you are going to spend that one-time money, spend it on a one-time expenditure like buying books for the new library at Chastain Road School. Don't fund permanent expenditures with it.
Below is the only significant comment I made at this meeting. It was just after the public input section ended.