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Is Prioritized Spending an Answer to Declining School Funding?

Is Prioritized Spending an answer to declining school funding?

The school district budget has two pieces – Revenue and Expenses.

$ 30 million which is 85% of the District’s projected 2011/12 Revenue should come from the State.  The problem is the District does not actually know how much it will receive.  Since the budget crisis started the State has been withholding more than 20% of our funding.  Total Revenue has been dropping over the last 4 years.  Budget allocations are often not finalized until the fall.

Expenses are different. The district can accurately forecast what each and every item in the budget will likely cost.  One of the problems with the current system is the need to frequently re-evaluate what will be cut when there are additional revenue reductions.

One way to address this issue is a prioritized spending plan.  Like a line item budget every expense is detailed in a list.  The list is then prioritized.  As revenues drop the items at the bottom (lower priority) are dropped.  The list and the priorities need only be discussed and set one time.

Advantages of a prioritized spending plan are:

  • The process becomes much more transparent.  Everyone knows exactly what will be cut if funding is not available and what will be reinstated if funds do become available.
  • The collective bargaining units clearly understand what would be gained if they grant concession to the School District.
  • The School Board can better assess how much of the reserves should be used on a year by year basis.
  • Citizen fundraising groups could better focus on the funding goals needed to save specific programs.

The School Board is interested in your input.  This item will be discussed at the next Board meeting on May 19th.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Shirin Samiljan May 15, 2011 at 05:54 AM
Back to the topic of Mr. Messina's article, do you agree that there should be prioritized spending in order to plan budgets in outgoing years? Or do you believe that someone or a group of people in the DO must take a specific salary cut before the end of this year before a prioritized list of line items is developed? If so, what would be the purpose of punishing the secretaries at the DO?
Robert Livesay May 15, 2011 at 01:56 PM
I just would like you to answer my question. By the way is the BUSD salary/benefit and all pay data base posted on the CCTimes yet? Just give the answer to the question I asked. Bob Livesay
Shirin Samiljan May 15, 2011 at 02:33 PM
I don't know the answer. It could be that no district office employees were laid off. The layoffs are announced as reduction via percentages, not as individual people. I haven't been paying close attention to this as it's not my issue. It seems to be a topic you are concerned about; why don't you call the business office or the personnel office and ask? I don't see what the CC Times has to do with this blog post at all.
Robert Livesay May 15, 2011 at 02:45 PM
I will call and find out. Also about the data base. Could be very interesting info. Stay tuned. Bob LIvesay
School Employee & Benicia resident June 02, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Well I know of 90 classified positions who lost jobs or hours for next year. Not much publicity or much said because the district/board slipped them in within days of proposing them. Took most of us by surprise. Personally, I lost the equivalent of 40 days of pay with my cut for next year. There is also talk of losing 5 more days as "furlough" days, which makes 45 days of pay cuts. These cuts affect increased medical premiums, retirement, and other benefits. Needless to say, making ends meet next school year will be more than a challenge. Not exactly the best climate to find another job either.

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