MMSD Budget Mysteries #2

Mystery fans, you’re joining this budget baffler in mid-case. I previously sent the following e-mail to Superintendent Rainwater:

I received an inquiry about library aids from a district employee, and I can’t find the answer. Maybe you and Roger Price [Assistant Superintendent for Business Services] can help.
The DPI Web site shows that the MMSD received $675,055 in library aids from the Common School Fund for the school year 2004-05. The DPI site also notes that the funds are paid by May 1 and have to be expended by June 30 of the year they were received.

I was able to find that the MMSD shows library aid revenue of $568,560 for 2004-2005 on page 238 in the 2005-2006 Budget & District Profile.

However, I cannot find an expenditure for the funds. On page 103 of the same document, I can find a total of $242,700 for “Major Non-salary Expenditures” in the Division of Library Media Services. The same page shows “Other expenses,” including equipment and supplies, of $181,270 under a heading called General and another expenditure of $46,720 under the heading Community services. Those three amounts total $470,720.

Can you please explain why DPI shows a payment of $675,055 and the budget book shows an expenditure of only $568,560 for library aids?

Can you also tell me and the district employee where in the 2005-2006 Budget and District Profile I can find how the library aids were expended to total either $675,055 or $568,560?

The district employee was also under the impression that library aids were distributed to individual schools, but was told by the school librarian that the school had not received any funds prior to June 1. Could you possibly provide a list of library aids received by each school in the MMSD, if that’s the way the MMSD uses the funds?

As always, I appreciate your time and attention.

Roger Price responded:

The DPI site . . . describes what can be funded with “common school funds”. Common School Funds come into the district as a Categorical Aid.
There are no specific accounts in the financial statements that report the expenditures against this receipt. Library expenditures are part of the central library and included in each building as part of the building formula accounts. DPI does a review of total expenditures against the revenue and in most years we have met or exceeded the receipt in total expenditures. In addition we internally monitor the status of the expenditures to assure compliance. To this end we will need to make a budget adjustment as part of our October amendments to reflect the expected revenue and to assure that we have included the corresponding expenditures.

The mystery deepens!

How does one know how the library aids were spent if “there are no specific accounts . . . that report the expenditures against this receipt.”
What is the “central library?”
How does one “monitor the status of expenditures to assure compliance” if “there are no specific accounts . . . that report the expenditures against this receipt.”
How does one know that “in most years we have met or exceeded the receipt in total expenditures” if “there are no specific accounts . . . that report the expenditures against this receipt.”

Roger, can you possibly put numbers to the receipts and expenditures to track the money? By that I mean, how did the MMSD spend (in dollars and cents) the $675,000 received from DPI? Does the budget show that the money was transferred from the library aids account into the “central library”? From the “central library” does the budget show that the library aids funds were transfered to each building?
To help the employee and school librarian who contacted me, can you provide a list of the library aids that went to each school in the MMSD?
This mystery confounds the mind and remains unsolved. Stay tuned for the next installment!

3 thoughts on “MMSD Budget Mysteries #2”

  1. Roger Price provided the following response:
    “I did not say there was no accounting for the specific expenditures. I said there is no specific accounts in the financial statement that would identify the total amount expended under the guidelines for the Common School Fund.
    “We maintain a chart of accounts that includes in excess of 30,000 different accounts. When needed for internal review we generate reports against that chart of accounts. It is impossible to publish every combination of accounts that may be of interest to every individual citizen. Thus, we follow DPI guidelines in producing summary reports that generally present the financial picture of the district.”
    Unfortunately, THE MYSTERY CONTINUES.
    Roger, could the MMSD possibly provide answers to my questions so that the employee and school librarian get some dollars-and-cents explanation of how the MMSD spent the library aids funds? The librarian says that the school never received money from library aids. For the rest of us, the budget lacks transparency, i.e., the public (MMSD staff, parents, and taxpayers) have no way of seeing where the money comes from and where it goes to.
    If it would be helpful, I’d be happy to file an open records request to get the account information to solve the mystery of the inexplicable expenditure of library aids.

  2. I sent the following e-mail to Roger Price on October 21.
    Will you be sending me a “dollars-and-cents explanation of how the MMSD spent the library aids funds,” as I requested on October 11?
    I’m requesting figures to show income to the budget category Library Aids and expenditures from Library Aids. Apparently, fullfilling this request isn’t difficult. According to Tim Schell, who works for the Waunakee schools, “There are only about six accounts through which Common School Funds should be expended. Eligible and ineligible costs, along with the appropriate WUFAR (formerly WESSAS) budget objects may be found at”
    A simple yes or no will suffice. If yes, would you please give me an estimate of the date when you’ll be able to send the figures?
    As always, I appreciate your effort, and I apologize for any inconvenience.

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