Thoughts on Vote to Reconsider

As other members have posted, it takes 4 votes to place an item on a board agenda. The big issue is that it takes a minimum of 5 votes to change the budget once it has been passed.
I have tried to emphasize that issue in conversations that have taken place in recent days. I have done so, not to be mean, but to encourage people to be highly pragmatic as they try to think through “what next” in this extremely painful time.
I have been asked if I would vote to reconsider. HOWEVER, it seems to me that there are two very different questions at hand:
1)is there a sustainable (e.g. more than a year or two)source of income that was not available or obvious to the board on Monday night. If not, any request to undo the consolidation is likely to fail. I would have trouble supporting it, for example, because of the strong chance that we will be having the same debate in a year or so. That doesn’t seem like a healthy choice for staff or students.
2) is the implementation plan for consolidation structured in the best way for the schools and neighborhoods? This is a very different question and speaks to a number of legitimate concerns that have been raised and which should be considered and addressed by the board and by district administration.
I strongly advise advocates for the pair to ask themselves whether there is a plan that would substantially alter the outcome of a vote on the first question – especially because success requires 5 votes in this case.
I would have a very hard time supporting a reconsideration that rests on reopening other budget decisions that were made on Monday. Similarly, I would have a hard time supporting reconsideration if there is not a viable new scenario to consider.
In short, it is a lot easier for me to envision reopening the consolidation to look at how to proceed in the best and most sustainable way, and to consider how to best work with neighborhoods and staff to rally around the merged school.
I realize that this is not as open ended as some of you may hope. However, IF there is going to be a successful move to reconsider, it will need to be firmly rooted in solid proposals that provide viable alternatives to the existing plan.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Vote to Reconsider”

  1. It has been reported, perhaps, incorrectly, that a major underlying issue was the structural budget deficit “discovered” this year.
    Did this budget draw from the reserve account? At the end of 2007, I believe the estimated reserve was to be at about $19M. At the end of 2008, what will be expected reserve?

  2. Larry – The way I understand it, past budgets have been balanced by anticipating a certain amount in “salary savings” and other potential cost avoidance that, unfortunately, didn’t always materialize, resulting in the need to dip into the reserve account to pay the bills for the year. The reserve account balance has been dropping each year as a result and subsequently led to a lowering of the district’s bond rating. (I’m not an accountant, so I don’t know if I’m using all the right terminology here.)
    So, I don’t think we’ll know if this budget draws from the reserve account until the end of next year when we see if the $500,000 or so of salary savings and $200,000 of maintenance included to to balance the budget isn’t actually spent. It’s kind of a crapshoot and past Boards have tended to budget more riskily than conservatively, thus the continuing need to dip into the reserve fund. Thanks to Lawrie for shedding some light on how this was all working.

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