Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Board Switches From "What Can We Cut?" to "How Can We Sell This Budget?"

The special school board working session to review the budget last night began with another 30 minute slide show. Just in case the school board doesn't recall what the mission is, or how the budget has progressed.

Then, for about 30 minutes, board members kicked around possible areas where the budget could be trimmed.

That done, the tone suddenly changed. All five school board followers in attendance felt the change very clearly in the air. The discussion at the table changed. Only newest board member John Welke (showing clearly that he hasn't sipped from the KoolAid ) wanted to discuss budget reductions. For the rest of the board, the discussion for the last 90 minutes focused intently on "How Can We Sell This Budget to the Community?".

We should mention of course, to be fair, that Caren Diedrich did propose one cost cutting measure: not having an attorney present during expulsion hearings. Shee...YAH! McFly!!! Isn't that like the ONE venue in which you absolutely positively WANT legal representation? We may not LIKE paying those expensive legal beagles...but...we're talking about going off the road at a serious mile marker on a student's life highway. Just maybe we want an attorney present to make sure we don' to follow policy or something. Ya know?

The undertone of the evening was essentially, "Bring it on, community. This is the best it's going to get...and it's better than what we told you it would be during the referendum planning (more on that to come)!". We wonder if these board members are poker players. Not big gamblers, here, but that would be a game we'd want in on.

Oh...the evening wasn't without SOME reductions. There WAS consensus to use $500K of fund balance (interesting figure, about exactly equal to the projected increase from where it started last year) to lower the tax levy.  Gee...the prodigal saviors of fund balance might finally be getting it.  But $500 K?  When you had a $1.3 MILLION surplus?  Good luck with that.  Beware the Ides of October.

The bottom line is that with some minuscule snipping, it is expected that the proposed tax levy will be just about 5% over last year.

The good news....that's less than the 8% we heard back in March.
The not-so-good's still 5%.  Anyone ...wait...anyone who does NOT work for the school district get a 5% raise this year?  Anyone get a raise, period?

Stay tuned for more info from last night's meeting....