By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… The talk surrounding me for the last six months has been the CCSD budget “shortfall”. As one deals with the issues involved, one must ask what “shortfall”? Where did the district come up short by $34 million? Oh, wait it is $50 million. No, it’s $60 million. Maybe it’s $70 million. Do I hear $80 million. Well maybe it is only $53 million.
The debate about the “shortfall” is like the weather in Iowa in the summer. If you don’t like it, wait 15 minutes it will change. When dealing with financial numbers with the CCSD, it’s like herding flying monkeys. Local school budgets have literally changed within hours.
The district sent a “FINAL” budget to the State based on a per pupil funding from the state of $5,726. If they received that amount from the state, the district would be able to function within the limits of the budget presented. The State, however, only funded the District at $5,700 dollars per pupil. Based on the last student enrollment figures for this year presented by the district at somewhere over 322,000, the actual difference in state money available and the state money budgeted for is approximately $8.3 million dollars. If there is a “shortfall”, here it is.
However, one must understand the state funding is only a proportion of the total per pupil funding the district receives. According to the District the total per pupil funding for this year is $8,583. Which interestingly enough is $22 per student higher than the State Department of Education says the district receives from all sources. That is approximately $7 million the State was not aware of, and could actually lower the amount received from the State.
One might wonder if there was a deliberate under reporting of local tax support to increase the funding from the State, but then one would be engaging in conspiracy politics.
The best one can do, I suppose, relying on figures from the State and District, is to surmise that CCSD has an additional $126 million dollars to run the schools in 2017-18 school year. One must then ask if there is an $80 million dollar “shortfall” what caused the unexpected $206 million added expenses over the 2016-17 school year?
When ask about the cause of the deficit, the District Superintendent listed a $11.2 million retroactive Administrative pay, lower than expected full day kindergarten of $14 million, loss of $3.5 million in Special Education contingency fund, higher than anticipated Risk Management costs of $3.8 million, and an Administrative pay increase of $16.5 million dollars. These costs total $49 million dollars. This still leaves the District with $77.5 million to cover any cost of living expenses.
If these figures as reported by the State Department of Education and the CCSD are valid, there should be a surplus not a deficit. Once again though dealing with budget numbers with CCSD it is like herding cats. Just about the time you figure you understand what is happening, the rules change. It is like playing a football game and the biggest team gets to set the rules and then change them to their advantage as the game goes on.
I guess I am just a “flat earther” for not believing there is a “shortfall”. I truly do not believe there is a need for a forensic audit that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I do not believe criminal activity has caused a “shortfall”. What is needed is someone to take charge of the District’s finances who is not beholden to the CCSD for his livelihood. Someone who can speak “truth to power”. Someone who can clean up the mess and then hand it back to the CCSD Board of Trustees. This can only be someone appointed by the Governor through the State Board of Education.
No one asked me but… One of the district’s answers to the “shortfall” is to furlough the lowest paid members of the CCSD. They were going to take two day’s pay from the people who probably could least afford the loss of two day’s pay.
One must ask: Why not take two day’s pay from every employee who makes over $100,000 a year rather than those making $20-50 thousand a year. If indeed you are going to ask your lowest paid employees to give up two day’s pay, why not ask all your employees to give up two day’s pay?
While I have not seen eye to eye with our school board trustee, Chris Garvey, she is to be commended for giving up ten percent of her $750 a month stipend in symbolic support of the support personnel. That $75 is small in dollars but large in principle.
She has also been vocal in her support of a forensic audit of the Clark County School District. This has served to isolate her from the five Trustees who continue to drink the “Kool-Aid” provided by the Superintendent.
She is only one of two board members who recognize the fact the District under the current Superintendent was mismanaged. This has caused the Superintendent to try to isolate her and the other board member who has voiced his displeasure in the management of the district.
There may be some solace in the fact that she was not invited to the Superintendent’s announced retirement. It is time the rest of the board opens their eyes to the fact that mismanagement of CCSD is on the Superintendent no matter in which department it occurs.
No one asked me but… There appears to be two unspoken motivations for the district to cry “shortfall”. The first is that the district is in negotiation with teachers for an increase in pay. They know it will go to arbitration and they need to show the arbitrator they have no money for the increases. This has been standard CCSD practice for years, but this time they overplayed their hand.
The second motivation was to try and divert attention away from the fact the district is in violation of AB 469 that requires the placement of 80% of the unrestricted General Fund dollars in local school budgets. They have only placed at best 55%. They have attempted to diverted attention to the “shortfall” rather than their many failures to comply with the reorganization regulations. The diversion has become a greater issue than their failure to comply with the State reorganization law.
Thought of the week… It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.
– George W. Bush