Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 7, 2008

Monday’s Letter from Thurman Silks

Filed under: Budget — Editor @ 9:59 pm

“Chariho surplus deserves second look before vote”

I think it is fair to say that with respect to specific budget line items, the proposed Chariho Regional School District budget was well received this year. There is always an eyebrow-raising item here and there, but all things are relative, and when casually com­pared with some other year’s budg­ets, it looks pretty good.

Why, then, are so many of us urg­ing that it be rejected? Because looks can be deceiving, as shown by the remarkable diligence of Hopkinton Town Councilor Sylvia Thompson in studying Chariho District’s audit reports of recent years.She has the intellect and knowledge and took the time to ask some questions and find the answers about how much surplus money Chariho has accumulated in recent years, and how it has hap­pened.

As I understand Councilor Thompson, the accumulated sur­plus in June of 2007, the last month of the previous fiscal year, was $6.8 million. That is about 10 times the amount that Chariho’s own “fund balance model” describes as ade­quate for a budget the size of Chariho’s. How it has been happen­ing is simple: For at least the last four years, the actual income to the District has been greater than the amount in the proposed annual budget and the total money spent by the district has been less than was authorized to be spent by the annual District Financial Referendum. With more in and less out than was expected, money accu­mulates.

School budgets are always com­plex. It took a lot of time to develop the information that Councilor Thompson has provided, and unfor­tunately it has not yet been as widely distributed as it deserves for the voters to make a wise decision on the budget. The important thing right now is to defer a decision on the budget until the surplus situa­tion is properly addressed.

If the proposed budget is rejected Tuesday there will be adequate time to straighten out the surplus situation and to vote on an appro­priate revised Chariho budget before Town budgets are voted on. And even if that does not happen, it is clear that simply using this year’s budget next year would be feasible.
Fixing the proposed budget is the right thing to do, and we have time to do it. Everybody wins, nobody loses. It would be hard to find a bet­ter example of important, practical and intelligent civic involvement and cooperation to show the kids.

Thurman M. Silks Hopkinton

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