Chariho School Parents’ Forum

December 28, 2006

Is the budget increase 3.5%, 7.5% or somewhere in between?

Filed under: Budget,Chariho — Editor @ 6:05 pm

There is some confusion on the budget increase when taking the surplus into consideration.  The paper reports (as does Chariho) that the budget is increasing 3.5%.  Is this accurate?

There is currently a $2,370,000 surplus.  That money is yours – it was not given back to you (or your town) so it could be viewed as a deposit towards future budgets or past budget overruns.

A simplistic view would be to say that the $2.37M is approx 4% of the total budget ($51M).  In this light the budget actually is raised by 7.5% (the reported 3.5% plus 4%).   But this isn’t how it is being handled.

$1.17M of the surplus is being applied to last years budget (apparently due to costs not projected in the previous budget), thus whatever increase we were sold last year was actually $1.17M higher than originally presented.  However, if the money sent to last year’s budget is paying for capital improvements that are actually done over several years, it could just as easily be applied to this year’s budget. 

$1.2M of the surplus is being applied to this year’s budget.  Thus the current proposal is approx 4.5% higher than last year’s budget, as presented (it would be 5.5% but other revenues offset this increase).  However, when you apply the $1.17M to the previous budget (and the resulting interest earned on this money), the increase falls to approx 4%.  Deduct other revenues and the budget increase is actually closer to 5%.

Make sense? 

Personally I would prefer to have all surplus returned to the towns.  This way we can be presented with a more accurate account of what the school is costing us.  But I am 1 of 11 board members.  I do not doubt that other board members feel the same way, but since we are inundated with many many issues, it is impossible to deal with them all (thus the impetus for this website – to get parents involved).

Change will only come when we hear from the people who pay the bills.  You can find these figures in the “Revenue Projections” section of the budget page.

Now do you want to come to the budget meetings and express your thoughts? 

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9 Comments »

  1. I’m no dummy, but with all the numbers they throw at us, it is next to impossible to make heads or tails of the actual budget increases.

    Another issue that concerns me is 11th hour spending. If you make to big a deal about budget surpluses, the administration is likely to frivously spend money to rid themselves of surpluses. Having worked for the government for a brief period many years ago, I’ve seen 11th hour spending in action and it wasn’t pretty.

    Unlike a business that is rewarded when spending is restrained, government entitites fear restraining spending in any given year because they may have the money removed from their next year’s budget and in that year they may really need the money. I’m not sure how to stop this cycle of spending, but I have some empathy for those trying to protect their budgets.

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 28, 2006 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

  2. Is there a breakdown of students and teachers per grade? For instances, we spend a certain amount for kindergarten, but without knowing how many kindergarten students are being educated, I can’t really say if the budget is unreasonable.

    I see one quick cut of over $1,000,000 that could be done very easily. Completely eliminate psychological and social service budget items. Psychological and social services should be up to individual parents to provide for their children if help is needed. For low income parents, the government already offers plenty of reduced cost/free social services. When I was in school, guidance counselors might identify children with problems, but once identified, it was not the school responsibility to provide care. Why do we need redundancy in the schools?

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 28, 2006 @ 9:43 pm | Reply

  3. I’m too blind to read the Certified Salaries and Capital Improvement pages you supplied. I think there may be important information there (like the number of teachers per grade), but I am unable to read the documents. Maybe you could link a pdf file so we can enlarge it? Sorry if I’m asking too much…I couldn’t do it if you asked me!

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 28, 2006 @ 9:49 pm | Reply

  4. It is true that in most govt departments funding is based on the previous year’s budget. So it is also true that a lot of spending takes place in the “11th hour” so that the dept can keep the current level of funding.

    I would hope that a school budget would be examined more closely. However, the bigger the budget, the harder it is to keep a handle on things.

    Big schools have other problems as well. According to several studies (http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/size.cfm), student performance, graduation rates, graduate incomes, student behaviors and student, parent and family satisfaction all improve with small schools. This has been “confirmed with a clarity and a level of confidence rare in the annals of education research.” (http://www.edspresso.com/2006/11/big_value_from_small_schools_j.htm)

    Comment by cspf — December 28, 2006 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  5. Social services may be mandated. Not sure. One problem I could see is how do you get rid of them. Terminating employees is no easy task (http://www.reason.com/news/show/36802.html). As an example, our teacher to student ratios are way out of line. Perhaps a labor study is in order. A space managment study might not be so bad either.

    Would it be easier to read if I emailed you the jpg files? If so, email me and I will send them in the reply – billfelkner@cox.net

    I will also post the enrollment figures.

    Comment by cspf — December 28, 2006 @ 10:03 pm | Reply

  6. Comment by cspf — December 28, 2006 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  7. “How to you get rid of them”? Darned if I know, but it must be possible.

    I sure hope we are not mandated to carry social services for children independent of parents? If so, I can’t believe that the mandates includes psychologists? How much do psychologist earn? I bet it’s a pretty big price tag.

    Sorry, but I have little respect for the mental health industry. It is very inexact (theories are constantly changing) and my experience is that it can cause as much harm as good. While I think that there is sometimes a need for psychology services, it should be heavily scrutinized and only used in the most extremes situations. I believe the decision and responsibility should be left in the hands of parents.

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 28, 2006 @ 11:02 pm | Reply

  8. Parents do loose control on many of these issues. Take the school nurse as an example. In many states, the nurse can’t apply a band-aid without parent consent, but if a student wants an abortion she is brought to Planned Parenthood and the parents may never know, even in the case of a minor.
    (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/news-articles-press/politics-policy-issues/teen-pregnancy-sex-education/consent-law-6132.htm)

    RI requires that at least one parent be told. However, in the real world this does not always happen. I had a classmate in college that told our professor that her client wanted an abortion, the professor told her not to tell the parents. I notified the dean but nothing was done. This is the “advocacy” side of the field of social work.

    As for psychologist – We have 5 psychologists on the payroll for a total of $349,143. Salaries range from $61k to 474k.

    Comment by cspf — December 28, 2006 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

  9. We are on the same page regarding the hypocrisy as it pertains to medical procedures.

    Maybe one psychologist for emergency care…but even that is a stretch and could be easily taken care of outside the school system.

    Comment by Curious Resident — December 29, 2006 @ 12:10 am | Reply


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