Board of Education
Citizens for Education
Budget Process and Proposed Cuts (Re-allocations)
There continues to be an approach of absolution of and by
the majority of the Board of Education for responsibility and accountability
for actions, or lack thereof, in the leadership and management of the district
and its educational and fiscal stewardship.
It is recognized that the district cannot change the state
revenue cap system, the state aid equalization formula, the QEO, state and
federal unfunded nor underfunded mandates, etc. that cause financial stresses
and strains. This Board and the
administration can and MUST, however, manage how they handle and live with
these current restraints until and unless the above conditions are changed.
Furthermore, the Board has NOT (but has the power to do so)
deal with the systemic and infrastructure issues that could make significant
positive fiscal and performance impacts for the district. There are three dimensions to these
considerations: 1) revenue; 2) expenditures; 3) mandates (funded, under-funded
and un-funded). The Board has continuously focused on more and more revenue,
with little focus on managing and strategizing its fiduciary responsibilities
regarding expenditures and mandates. Diligent exercise of these
responsibilities and transparency in its accountabilities, reporting and
communications are absolutely essential to public trust.
A constructive approach to working with budget constraints
and fund-sufficient limitations is to conduct appropriate evaluations and make
RE-ALLOCATIONS (not ‘cuts’) of funds to pre-determined priorities and
cost-effective and higher performance programs and services. Lack of interest and consideration with
statements such as “we can’t (translated: won’t) do that”, or “we have done
everything we can” doesn’t build public confidence and trust. Listed below are
several areas about which the Board should take a different and more
significant assessment for the RE-ALLOCATION of funds to stay within the
revenue caps. Board responsibility and leadership for the review and analysis
of functional and object, as well as program and service, areas of the budget
include, but are not limited to the following:
analyses: Establish and initiate
policies and procedures to conduct continuing cost/benefit analyses of all
programs, services, positions and operations (functions and objects)
within the district. Reduce and/or eliminate those which are less or not
effective as others and re-allocate to those proven more effective and
efficient. A proposal has been previously submitted to the Board.
functions: Analyze the status of
development, cost and effectiveness of the Lawson-Davidson software system. Determine next step and
finalizing strategies, differentiate between needs and wants and reduce
costs. Analyze pupil transportation policies, processes and costs. Pursue more significant cost
sharing collaboration with the City of Madison.
analysis: Address systemic issues
with respect to special education mandates, policies, practices and funding. Reduce costs of
un-funded and under-funded programs and services through efficiencies,
collaborations or eliminations. Determine a more appropriate level of
services to meet the educational needs of pupils.
- Mandates: Analyze all federal and state mandates and the interpretations applied
locally for the impacts of funding levels (funded, under-funded and
Services: Re-position the District’s
role in social services not directly engaged in the development and
delivery of instruction and curriculum. Establish collaborative
partnerships and services for fees with city and county services.
analysis: Evaluate the effectiveness
and costs of the use of ‘outside’ consultants, including the use of retired district staff.
Educational Resource Teachers: Retain one resource teacher for staff
development for each line item position (15 FTEs) and return others (approximately
50+) to the classroom.
benefit costs: Obtain data necessary
to make informed decisions on structural changes in health care coverage
in order to offer MMSD employees quality health insurance while containing
costs in the best interests of budgeting, students, teachers and
taxpayers. Reduce costs and improve the administration of the mental
health benefit for teachers. Proposals for the parameters for study,
analysis and report of options and impacts have been submitted to the
Emeritus Retirement Program (TERP):
Re-consider the $10,000 plus per year for three years early retirement
payout to eligible teachers. At its inception this program was an
incentive to reduce the salary budget, but has become ‘institutionalized’
as a costly ‘entitlement’.
teachers: The costs and benefits for
substitute teachers has become an enormous expense. The management and
administration and use of substitutes regarding this line item deserves
close scrutiny, as do the criteria for determining eligibility for
Services Fund (Fund 80): This fund,
largely supported by taxpayer revenues outside the revenue cap limitations
imposed by the state on the school district, has grown by over 250% in the
past few years. The lack of Board oversight through policies and audits do
not adequately ‘manage’ this fund. A thorough cost analysis should be conducted
of all MSCR programs and services, including administrative costs, to
determine the level of participant fees necessary to charge in order to
make the programs and services ‘cost neutral’ to the taxpayers of the
district (the net effect will be to reduce taxpayer subsidies). One
example of a community service to consider for re-allocation is the “After
School” programs. These programs should be returned for operation to local
private providers, thereby reducing taxpayer subsidies of these programs. A
request for an audit of Fund 80 and proposals for reduction of costs have
been previously submitted to the Board.
Resources Policy: The recommendations
of the Task Force should be adopted, implemented and appropriate resources
re-allocated to meet the requirements as determined by the policy.
savings: In March, 2005, the District
reported a savings of $4.7 million in energy cost as a result of
Maintenance Referendum initiated projects. The District has yet to produce
the true value of these reported savings and the continuing impact on the
budget as to where and to what extent these savings have accrued. A formal
request outlining the breakout of the pertinent data was submitted to the
Board two years ago.
as Second Language (ESL): Over $12
million is identified in the 2006-7 budget for this program, which has
more than doubled in the past few years. Ways need to be found to reduce
these costs through measures of effectiveness, efficiency and
collaboration/partnering with community agencies, etc.
Programs: The high cost, low
achievement results (according to the District’s own evaluation) of the Reading
Recovery program requires a
re-structuring, reduction and re-allocation of funds for the program.
Fees: In 2006, the District and MTI
spent more than one-half million dollars ($500,000) in legal fees related
to employee issues. Additional hundreds of thousands of dollars have been
spent by the District with Madison law firms on a variety of matters. This expense is in
addition to an in-house legal staff of more than five professionals.
Management, administration and control of these costs is a must. Also
required should be an evaluation of the conditions/climate which prompts
such extensive use of legal services.
activities: Define and identify all
activities that are deemed as extra-curricular. Apply cost analysis
methodologies EQUALLY to ALL activities defined as extra-curricular. Move
to establish a multi-tier funding system. A detailed proposal for funding extra-curricular
activities has been previously submitted to the Board.