Public Comment on Eliminating Cuts to Schools

Public comment at Board of Education meeting, 3/20/2012

Audio source:  Listen to this public comment and the Board’s responses here

Good evening.  While the overall growth in fund balance has received significant attention, I would like to address the Board tonight about the unassigned fund balance and its potential growth.  As CFO Betz has indicated, the unassigned fund balance is projected to be $20 million at the end of this year and that is after you take out the $11.7 million.  I would like to call your attention to an additional $15 to $24 million that is available today which the board could choose to use to eliminate the current cuts to our schools.

  • $5 million from supplies and materials:  Last year only $5.3 million was spent from this line item, yet there’s now $16.9 million budgeted.
  • $5 to 9 million from contingency:  Over the past 3 years combined, only $32,000 has been expended from that line item, yet there’s $9 million sitting there today.
  • $5 to 10 million from capital projects: Even though the board budgeted $4 million for the capital projects fund in its financial plan and budget book, the beginning fund balance for this fund was at $14 million, due to unbudgeted transfers.

I realize that days after I spoke in January, a board member stated at a public meeting that I needed to take remedial math, yet not one error has been pointed out.  So I wanted to assure you tonight that I have double-checked my numbers and I believe my math adds up and I encourage you to look closely at the numbers as the fund balance seems to continue to grow, the economic forecast is looking positive yet the cuts seem to stay the same and I haven’t heard that revisited.

Mr. Carson, you indicated that the board intends to wait until late April for final budget numbers before addressing any changes to the current cuts to our schools.  Funds exist today in the current budget that can be utilized to eliminate these cuts while being fiscally responsible and holding money for contingencies and emergencies.

I encourage the board to help our schools compete by applying these resources. Our schools deserve and our students deserve the strongest schools possible.

Thank you.

Susan Meek