Recommendations for 2006-2007 Budget

Active Citizens for Education offers the following recommendations for the consideration of the MMSD Board of Education in the allocation of funds for the 2006-2007 budget: (I appeared on WIBA, 1310, this evening with Brian Schimming and discussed the MMSD proposed budget and ACE recommendations) [18MB mp3]

  1. Reduce costs in Central Administration with the elimination of at least 30.0 FTE Instructional Resource Teachers, 3.0 FTE administrative personnel and 2.0 FTE in clerical personnel in Curriculum Research and Staff Development. NOTES: This function was the most frequently identified and top ranked for reduction by participants in the $100.00 Budget Sessions held throughout the District in January, 2006. These reductions are less than 50% of the personnel listed in this area. The Board should also scrutinize the budget impact of another 35.0 FTE or more of these resource teachers who, at some time and in some way during the past year, were shifted to Title One.
  2. Establish a separate decision-making process for consideration and approval of the Community Service Fund (Fund 80); and, initiate a functional audit and cost analysis of all programs, services and administrative operations associated with Fund 80. NOTES: Attached is a copy of the original document with the rationale and supporting information for these recommendations that were presented to the Board in August of 2004 and re-iterated in March of 2005. This audit recommendation is totally unlike an accounting audit that the Board rationalized to dismiss this type of audit request. The goals of this audit and analysis are to
    1. obtain facts that are reliable;
    2. build trust among the Board administration, parents and the community;
    3. engage the Board and community interactively in communications and decision-making processes; and,
    4. identify accountabilities for personnel, policies, processes, procedures and decisions.
  3. Remove the funding of the Leopold Elementary School addition from the operating budget. NOTES: The fiduciary responsibility of the Board includes providing for the direct involvement of the District’s taxpayers in determining capital expenditures. This means approval/disapproval of this expenditure must be put to the public in a referendum before proceeding and not afterwards. Prior to submittal of the question to referendum it is incumbent upon the Board to make all information, including all costs and alternatives, abundantly transparent so that citizens can make fully informed decisions. At no time during the discussions of this project has there been any public mention, let alone data, to inform the Board and citizens of the true cost of the project whether funded through self-bonding or referendum approved bonding. The true cost includes the approximate 60% additional cost due to the state equalization formula assessed our high property value district, as well as the operational and staffing costs associated with expansion of facilities.
  4. Provide for the continuation of a full curricular and instructional strings/fine arts program throughout the elementary school grades. NOTES: It is pure folly to continue to put up this “lightening rod” year after year for cuts. These programs positively affect almost all elementary school children. Research shows the effective impact of these experiences on academic performance. The first priority and core educational responsibility of this Board is to financially enable classroom curriculum and instruction. This curriculum is a state mandated standard for very good reasons, so Board members find a way to fully fund these programs.
  5. Drastically reduce the costs associated with the Reading Recovery program. Re-allocate some of these funds to less costly and more effective reading programs and associated instruction. NOTES: The District’s internal study identified costs associated with this program at over $8,000.00 per student with more than 300 students involved. Study data also showed less than 50% success rate for achieving third grade level reading performance after three years in the program. This is way too much cost for so little success, especially when there are methodologies and programs at much less cost and far more success.

Active Citizens for Education is ready, willing and able to assist the Board and administration with additional information, ideas, analyses and suggestions about the above recommendations, as well as others. Thank you for your consideration.
Active Citizens for Education will also provide you, immediately following your 2006-7 budget decisions in June, with recommendations for the 2007-8 budget cycle regarding processes, analyses and initiatives for the improving the effectiveness, efficiencies and performance in such other program and service areas as health insurance costs, Fund 80, Teacher Emeritus Retirement Program (TERP), Special Education collaborations, maintenance, business operations and services, energy savings and transportation.