Sunday, April 5, 2009

More Decisions Made Beyond the Watchful Public Eye?

It wasn't even listed under school board business. But, if you read closely what was written about the recent City Council meeting in the STAR this week, there it was, innocently buried within a discussion of the "COPS" grant.

4-2-09 STAR, City Council COPS grant discussion

And...before we get mis-interpreted, let's get something clear. We firmly believe that something needs to be done about the problems and violence occurring at the high school. Perhaps additional Police Department liaison officers ARE required. If that's what the community wants, fine. Our issue is HOW these decisions are being made. There are rules, and if the story is correct, someone doesn't seem to be following rules. Someone's committing to financial obligations for which they lack authority. And THAT is a problem.

Police Chief Pat Anhalt was authorized to apply for federal stimulus funding through the federal COPS Grant program for three new police officers; an additional school liaison officer for the new high school, a detective for the department's Neighborhood Task Force, and a regular detective.

If approved at the federal level, the three positions will be federally funded for three years. Anhalt said the school district has agreed to fund 70 percent of the school liaison officer once federal funding ceases three years from the time the position is created. The city will have to fund the other two officers and the remaining 30 percent of the liaison officer.

We don't think Chief Anhalt is one to mi-interpret commitments made to him.
The problem is that the cost of funding 70% of an additional liaison officer is a FUTURE BUDGET line item We haven't even seen a draft of the 2009-10 school district budget, let alone anything further out.

Furthermore, it is the ELECTORS who have final approval of a budget. No one in the school district administration office has the authority to commit to budget provisions. Budgets are prepared for school board approval and then go to the electors for a vote at the annual meeting.

First we had Phil Frei on local TV announcing his plan to spend federal stimulus money (that never materialized) on ballfield lights. Now someone is committing to financial costs without taxpayer approval or community input.

When is the school board going to reel their employees in?