Letter: Questions prioritiesAt last week’s special School Board meeting, options were discussed to deal with the upcoming expected $1.5-$1.8 million loss of state-shared revenue funding for operation of our public schools. The board sounded genuinely concerned about the impact this loss of dollars will have on local property taxes.
By: Steve Hermsen, Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
At last week’s special School Board meeting, options were discussed to deal with the upcoming expected $1.5-$1.8 million loss of state-shared revenue funding for operation of our public schools. The board sounded genuinely concerned about the impact this loss of dollars will have on local property taxes. In my view, they have taken very small steps in attempting to lessen the increases.
For those unaware, the district administration presented to the board items for consideration to cut, both programs and positions, ranked by impact between level 1 and 4. Levels 1 and 2 items were cut. Surprising and disappointing were items not included on the list for consideration, as well as items deemed level 3 and 4 that survived elimination. Some items listed were things not offered now, but since they (administration) planned to implement them next year, it’s now considered a “cut.” One example was a level 1 item to fund $115,000 for crossing guards at the high school to protect students crossing from St. Patrick’s parking lot. This is now considered a budget cut even though we’ve never had guards to begin with.
The list’s “impact level 4” items were defined as “Essential support - greatly reduced or eliminated.” For instance, a 10 percent cut in their over-bloated technology spending was labeled too great a reduction in essential programming therefore it survived, yet reducing 1 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) high school teacher by increasing class sizes was considered level 2 and cut.
What’s obvious is the administration’s inability to identify and trim the excess staffing they have added themselves. There was no mention of eliminating the recently added communications consultant or the financial manager which combined added $150,000 to the budget. No mention of trimming or freezing the administrative staff or their pay raises seen in this year’s budget being $400,000 more than last year, (which doesn’t include the aforementioned $150,000).
So while the board sets an expectation of teachers taking a pay freeze for the good of the taxpayers, if they really want to set an example, they will eliminate the fluff jobs “supporting” the administrative staff too.
Those of us in the private sector who still have jobs don’t need a publicly funded school communications consultant dressing up a message from a school financial manager that times are tough. The publicly funded school superintendent and finance director are already paid quite well to do that themselves.