Monday, December 27, 2010

4K Transportation: What Kind of Accounting is this?

In December 2008, district administration presented the school board with its budget for the costing of the new 4 year old kindergarten program (SP4K).
Year 1 (2009-10) projected transportation costs (busing): $50,000
with projected increases of 4% per year.  Notably, this is the budget which was approved by the school board in agreeing to implement 4K.

In October 2009, a revised "estimate" was generated (with no fanfare, despite a 150% increase over the projection 10 month prior:  $125,000.  Neither the school board (nor the public) was informed of the severity of the under-budgeting of the 4K transportation costs.  The cost was buried within routine "budget adjustments".

Actual cost for 2009-10:  $ 259,848
Projected Cost for 2010-11: $ 261,124

How does a projection of $50,000 swell to $125,000 in just 10 months and then again to $261,000 ?
That's an under-budgeting of 500%!

Phil Frei's answer:
"Well....we don't just budget for a we don't budget for the cost of the science program"

Um...Phil....the problem with your logic is that it's not logical.  Science is PART of an entire curriculum which is and always has existed.  The SP4K was a NEW addition to the school district.  As would be expected of ANY new curriculum, an accurate accounting is required.  Being off by a factor of 5 just doesn't cut it.

If we're off this much for the SP4K busing, maybe that explains how we wound up with a surplus of nearly $3M AFTER the community voted to reduce the tax levy by $2M.

Hmmm...the original budget called for a $600K deficit for 2009-10, a $300K "profit" (surplus) for 2010-11, and a $1.3M "profit" for 2011-12.  

Our questions:
1. Would the board have approved the 4K program had they know that transportation would cost FIVE TIMES as much as projected?  With up to a 60 minute (each way) ride time?
2. Whatever happened to the concept of "fidelity to funding"?  If we are "making a profit off of 4K....why should there be a 60 minute ride time for 4 year olds?  Oh ...wait...we know...because they want to use the "surplus" for other things.

We're hoping Governor -elect Walker has his radar screen focused on DPI and state aids as well as he has it focused on nailing state employees.