Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Budget Cuts - And So It Begins

Last week the Express-Times reported that some individuals attended the NASD School Board Meeting encouraging the Board to not cut any positions or to increase class sizes (read the article here). It also notes that a petition was presented with 187 signatures supporting the same (of note, the population living in the NASD area is roughly 24,000, so this amounts to less than 1% of the population).

The NASD currently faces over $1M in spending deficit after the pending tax increase. The article notes that attendees were told to contact their state representatives putting the blame on a reduction in state support. I expect to hear a lot of deflection of blame, threats to cut sports, band, and music (to rally residents to support tax hikes), and similar attempts to gain support for tax increases and focus the cause of our problems on state cuts.

The reality is that our current financial problems are our own fault.  From some previous posts:

our enrollment is projected to decrease for the fourth year in a row, down to 4628. This enrollment figure is within 50 students of 2004-05 and 75 students of 2005-06 school years’ enrollment.”

“Next year we will spend $20 million more dollars to educate the same number of students as we did six/seven years ago.”

You can read more here.

Posted via email from Ross Nunamaker


The Battle Cry of Freedom said...

What is really sad is that the people do not take into account the TOTAL DEBT that is out there. While the Federal government is $14trillion the total National Debt is in excess of $52 trillion. I have yet to see or hear anything that tells me we can continue to sustain this debt. The only place to get that money is out of our pockets. The school districts are not only an economic mess they are a moral and cultural mess and they are key to the survival of our nation but they are a failure in what they do.We need to get our act together or we will not make it. Keep in mind that the only place in the country that is seeing any building is in Washington DC. If that does not tell you something I don't know what will

NazoRanter said...

Why is it many surrounding districts are taking pay freezes for both teachers as well as administrators, yet last I heard our administrators were just taking less of a pay raise. That is just SO big of them.

I will open the can of worms here and advocate for a pay to play program. They vast majority of these kids did not start sports when they got to school, so parents had to pay for them prior to that, why not a nominal fee now?

I am quite sure the "not my program" crowd will speak up on that comment.

But, here is the net of it. We are in trouble financially in NASD. Taxes are already one of the highest in the area. So, the choice is to either cut spending or raise taxes even more.

I don't believe that in a financial crisis like this parents whose kids don't participate in activities should have to subsidize those that do.

Case in point was the pool. It benefited only a small segment of the entire school population, yet all of us now are stuck with the multi-million dollar bill and ongoing maintenance costs.

We the taxpayers have to figure out how to balance our checkbooks and spend within our means, why can't NASD do the same?

Wayne said...

Please consider coming out to our meeting Friday night April 15th at 7:00PM upstairs at the Nazareth Center for the Arts (old firehouse).

This whole situation could have been avoided and prepared for beginning two years ago:
Where Did The Money Go?

NewsOverCoffee said...

@ NazoRanter: I agree, the admin taking half the planned increase and asking teachers to take a freeze is simply wrong - and rather arrogant. Maybe it ought to be Russian Roulette style. We give the Admin the half planned raise, but in exchange two administrators positions are eliminated at random; or they can all take a reduction of say 6% since they have kept getting raises while everyone else has stagnated.

The next reaction shouldn't be to charge more for existing services, but instead to justify existing spending, planned expenditures and hold individuals accountable on an item by item basis.

I was recently told that over 100 teachers were given laptops last year without requesting them or being given the option of a desktop.

There are so many examples of waste that the notion of pitting sports against band against other extra curriculars against those who don't participate is only going to benefit the Admin and Board because it diverts attention from the core problem.

So yes, don't open that can of worms now, there are much better ones to address first.

NazoRanter said...

NOC, financial crisis, we have to open that can of worms, but it is not the only one.

In addition, we should:

-Cut some of the administrator positions. We have more than we need at this point.

-Freeze pay raises across the board, meaning not a cut in the amount, but zero, like the rest of the working world.

-Teachers and administrators need to start paying more for benefits. Bring them in line with what the rest of the working world is paying percentage-wise. I know teachers will cry about that one, but the gravy train has left the building and sorry, I am not sure how they can live with themselves knowing they are taking food off their neighbor's table so they can have more.

-Education reimbursement, cap it on a per year basis, again like the rest of the working world. We just can't afford to pay for teacher's continuing education when we can't even afford to send our own kids to college.

-Freeze all building and acquisitions that aren't truly necessary. We can't afford the "nice to haves" any more, just the essentials.

The problem is that cuts have to come from somewhere, but there will always be someone that cut here but not there. They need to be across the board, and yes, everyone will feel some pain, but let's face facts, we are in trouble and unless we start dealing with it, it will only get worse.