I am sure that everyone is aware of the budget passed by the Board of Education on June 21, 2012. There is no doubt that this budget was going to bring pain to many because of the size of its impact. Reducing $85 million from your budget is going to have impact on services rendered. It could have been better. A few of us asked for deeper probes. It appears that stones were left unturned because staff thought it to be unwise.
Knowing that many of our budgets had been wasting money for years, probably a decade or longer, made me really want to get it right. We needed to eliminate the extras that we cannot afford or anything that deviates money from going to children in the classroom. I believe we still have more work to do in cutting the central office. The Superintendent has made great impact here, but more work should be done.
We missed cutting in some obvious places that could make some difference. DOLA, middle school athletics, magnet transportation, and further central office cuts. The magnet transportation is left over from the days of the court order regarding segregation of DeKalb Schools. We have been removed from that order for several years now. $1.8 million that could go to the classroom. This is 30 teachers, 51 parapros, or all of the media specialists that were eliminated. I had been talking to the superintendent about offering the transportation for the magnets for a fee. I believe that would have offered a reasonable alternative and provide some convenience for our magnet students and parents.
I am also disturbed about the millage increase. Why do you give money to an entity that has misused it for so many years? That enables the “addict” to continue their behavior without modification. Had I felt that our budget was as tight as it could get, I could have supported a millage increase because then it really would be for the “kids”. Next year will be difficult at best. The most we can raise with a millage increase next year is $14.8 million. Of course the value of a mill will certainly decline leaving us even more revenue needy.
One interesting observation. Had we adopted the Superintendent’s alternate option without the tax increase we still would have covered the $85 million deficit and had a small reserve in the General Fund. Things that make you go HMMMMM……..
Where do we go from here? Many folks have asked me about fraud or some illegal aspect in our budget department and in human resources. I do not have the answers to that, but we should know something in the future. KPMG is conducting a forensic audit for us now. It should point out if the questions we all have are real or mythical. Their findings should point directly to where, if any, improprieties occurred. I am just like everyone else. I want to know WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY. It is at that time that we can ask investigations to take place with solid evidence behind us.
On a brighter note I attended our summer leadership conference this past week. Our leadership was there working hard with our principals and assistant principals. The work on our curriculum looks impressive. Dr. Howe has really tried to put things into our teachers hands that they can use from day one.
We have written a new and more rigorous curriculum aligned to common core standards. Teachers will go into classrooms next year with unit plans and model lesson plans. There will be an increased emphasis on reading.
Thank you everyone for your support. We need everyone to make this school system a formidable strength in our county. Please call or email.