Solution to MMSD Budget Mystery #4: Body Count or 1-2-3 FTE

Congratulations to Roger Price, MMSD assistant superintendent, for completing the table with the FTE (full time equivalent) positions for 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, i.e., last year compared to this year.
If you open the Excel file, you’ll see some potentially surprising figures. Unlike the reports, total FTEs for this school year compared to 2004-2005 did not decrease by the threatened 131 positions. The total fell by 90.
You can also see that some job categories actually increased. Food service staff increased by 10 FTEs. The increase seems odd when MMSD enrollment declined this year, presumably meaning the MMSD will prepare and serve fewer meals.
Unspecified “Supervisors” increased by 2.95 FTEs, while “administrators” fell by 2.0 FTEs. Does that mean “downtown” staff actually rose by .95 FTE?
School psychologists and social workers took the largest percentage hit at 12.2%.
I’ve been urging the board to use year-to-year comparisons during budget deliberations, and this table provides an excellent example of why. That is to say, no one during any budget deliberation even mentioned the increase in food service staff. The administration gave no justification; the board asked no questions.
With the comparative information in the table, which the board did not have during the budget process, some board member might have asked whether the budget should increase the number of food service workers while decreasing the number of school psychologists and social workers.
In the coming budget process, I hope that the board asks for an update of the table with a column added for the FTEs under a balanced budget for 2006-2007 . . . before they vote on a budget.

  • Tim Schell

    Ed, specific to the food service staff question, they are almost certainly supported from the food service fund (Fund 50). Fund 50 is a segregated fund that is separate from the general fund. If Fund 50 ends the fiscal year in deficit, that must be covered by a transfer from the general fund. If Fund 50 ends the fiscal year in surplus, the surplus must be retained in Fund 50 for food service purposes.
    As long as MMSD’s food service operations are running even or in the black, additional food service personnel costs can be added with no impact on the general fund and positions like school psychologists social workers supported from the general fund.
    I’m not a business manager, but I’m 99% confident in this.

  • Carol Carstensen

    Tim is correct. Food Service is not under the revenue cap – it is self-supporting based on revenues and state and federal funds.
    The reduction in social workers and psychologists is also not, primarily, a budget cut – it is a consequence of several grants ending. One of the major problems with grant and other outside funding is that they are almost all for a specific purpose and time period – when the grant ends we must either find money in the regular Operating Budget for the positions – or eliminate them.
    Year to year comparisons can provide some information – but frequently one needs more than just the numbers to understand what is occurring.
    Carol

  • Ed Blume

    Thanks, Tim and Carol. Now I know more about the budget.
    Let’s leave the social workers and psychologists out of the equation, since they weren’t in the equation in the first place.
    Let’s just look at food service workers alone.
    Why did the MMSD need to add 10 FTEs, Carol?
    The added employess weren’t identified or discussed in the budget documents or by the board as far as I can recall.

  • Ed Blume

    In looking at the revenue for Food Services, the 2005-2006 Budget and District Profile, page 239, shows that students (and families) will pay a total of $168,690 more for meals in this school year than last school year, a 5% increase.