February 19, 2005

MMSD Budget Forecast - Board Asks Few Questions

Roger Price presented to the School Board a budget forecast (Roger Price Presentation - video/mp3 audio) for the next four years.

Watching the video I was surprised there was very limited discussion and few questions about the substance of the forecast. There was no discussion about or requests for the administration to develop alternative budget forecasts using different assumptions. There was no questions about the assumptions used. There was no discussion about setting a time to review directions to administration for making cuts - for example, what are the personnel policies? There will be no layoffs of administrators. Will that be the same for existing teachers? There was no discussion about when to discuss the financial impacts of programs that are not as effective as others and may be costing more than we can afford for the results. Examples of questions about curriculum - reading: what is being done to appeal federal $2 million, what is being done to review costs of reading and evaluating what is working best for most children, how is curriculum being evaluated at Lapham, how much are new contracts going to cost and relating this to personnel layoffs if referendums are not passed. what programs are not working, what do they costs, etc.

Basically, the majority of the school board assumed that was the gap - $29 million cumulatively over 4 years. No questions were asked about the assumptions used. This is the most important part of a forecast - what the assumptions are, what other assumptions could be considered. Unless you have a good understanding and confidence in the assumptions used, your forecast will be weakened.

The School Board received the information, said thank you and reviewed the dates needed to make a decision about going to a referendum for operating expenses. This is the first time the board has seen a budget forecast for 05-06 - no substantive discussion.

With the exception of the additional years in the budget forecast, which I was glad to see that an attempt had been made to go out several years, this presentation is the same process and discussions that I saw last year. The majority of the Board had no questions last year either - how can that be?

I think I would have lots of questions if I was facing a cumulative $29 million gap between revenues and expenditures in my budget.

Link to MMSD Budget Page

Posted by Barb Schrank at February 19, 2005 05:08 PM | TrackBack