Saturday, April 6, 2013

Budget Proposals: An All Or None Proposition?

This week we heard (at least until the meeting had to be suspended after 3 hrs) about the districts new proposals for the 2013-14 budget year.

On March 19, 2013, Management Team recommended the following steps, taking into consideration the pending state budget and the related uncertainty of school funding:
  1. If the state budget is approved with no dollar increase to the per pupil spending (Governor Walker’s proposal), all new proposals would be delayed until future years. Based on current projections, they could not be sustained.
  2. If the state budget is approved with a $150 increase, or close to that amount, the budget proposals would be implemented as shown on Attachment 1, starting in 2013-14, and Year 2 and 3 would be considered in future budgets.
  3. If other revenue becomes available in the 2013-14 budget, the budget proposals would be implemented as shown on Attachment 1, starting in 2013-14, and Year 2 and 3 would be considered in future budgets.

Kinda has a "We want them all or none of them" ring to it, doesn't it?  As in "if we can't all play, then one of us plays".   We don't know if that was the intent, but that's how we read it and how several folks we asked read it.

We know this is really crazy...really OUT THERE...but do you you you leave any room for the possibility that just maybe the school board might feel strongly about one or more of these that they would approve them regardless of the state budget scenario?  Just wonderin'.

We'll take a look at each in more detail...some more detail than others, of course, but these are just a few of the thing that just sacked us in the face about the proposals, shotgun style:

  • It adds a lot of personnel (12.7 FTE by our count).  Many illnesses can be cured with a little antibiotic, but like some STDs, FTEs are forever.  Isn't the idea that technology allows you to do more with less bodies?
  • 3.5 FTE for "Instructional Coaches".  The paint is still wet on the forerunner to this initiative.  Can we maybe let the paint dry and see how things play out before jumping t this?
  • 623 Ipads?  REALLY?  SIX HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE?   And why do they have to be I-Pads?   WI-FI and retina display? For grades K-5?  Can we think this through?   
  • Expand/Re-structure Youth Advocates.  We can almost see this one.  If we're truly doing all the training now...why exactly are we paying someone else to provide these positions?  The $64,000 question (or actually roughly $100K question is:  does offering the district benefit package make a $14 dollar/hr wage more palatable?
  • Athletics & Activities.  Lots of buried treasure here.  Jim "Jimmy Mac" McClowry wants to add more club advisors and coaches, pay them more, get himself a half-time assistant AD...oh yeah...and maybe add girls varsity lacrosse next year.  Did anyone even review his proposal?  He talks about attached data that we didn't see.  Other folks looking to add positions provide PDs.  Jimmy Mac did not.  In fact, there's no substance here.  And lacrosse seems to be a finely tuned turn-key operation.  So why is Jimmy Mac proposing to simply take ONLY the right front tire?  And why start wi girl?  That funk kinds reeks of a Title IX concern....dontcha think?
  • PBIS Coaches.  This is the least expensive and arguably most needed of all the proposals. 
  • Add 1.5 FTE Support staff at CHUMS.  Not huge fans of adding FTE, but at least the proposal includes clear data to support the need.  Unlike Jimmy Macs (hint, hint).
  • Add 2 groundskeepers.  Wait...after last summer, don't we have LESS grass to deal with?  Just kidding!   Far better data to support it although we wonder why we should be swayed by Florida or Washington models.  Being that we're SO much like those states.
  • Add 0.5FTE for Business Services and 0.5 FTE for Human Resources.  The former gives us some heartburn while the latter is more understandable.  Several years back our Business Services Manager received a $5.00 per hour increase that due to complaints the school board split p over 2 years.  Still, we pay that position a LOT of money and now they need help?  It's tarting to look like the people that get paid the big bucks don't do very much and we need to hire lesser paid positions to do their work. Sorry to be blunt, but w're just sayin' what everyone else is thinkin'.  Maybe if Phil Frei focused on the business end more and let others deal with the non-business things (like technology and buildings/grounds), we wouldn't need this position.