"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chasin' Points Out Two Critical Differences Between Milton and Evansville School Districts

Click on the link below to see Chasin's take on the Milton School District eking out a surplus this year. That is the first big difference between MSD and ECSD. We were already at a deficit situation before the $25K press box insurance deductible was incurred in August. This is equivalent to half the average teacher salary in our district (we have a lot of experienced teachers). But the true question is how much does the district really intend to SPEND next year, not just budget. Two years in a row the people in charge of making sure the spending was on track with the budget dropped the ball and the ended up underspending three big areas by over $500,000 two years ago and $414,000 last year. The first year it happened, there was jubilation amongst the staff because they "saved" half a million dollars, as they conveniently forgot that the budget still ended up about $200K in the hole (started with a $670K deficit). Remember that the levy is based on the BUDGET, not the actual expense. So for those two years, our levy was based on an inflated budget, inflating your property tax owed. This is why the state dings districts for underspending their budgets. They're saying, "You don't get to solicit revenue on false pretenses. The surplus "unspent" funds go back into the Fund 10 balance but comes out of the revenue income the following year. Not really much of a savings.

The second important thing Chasin' noted about the Milton budget process was that they had 200-250 people involved in their annual meeting and budget process. That is huge! It is doubtful that ECSD has had that many people show up in aggregate to the annual meeting for the last twenty years (less staff, administration, press and school board). They whine about nobody showing up to be informed about the budget, they model pitiful communication skills and cherry pick the information that they do communicate that will place them in the most flattering light and/or support their cause as opposed to informing the public/school board. How about they go to Milton and find out how to engage the public in this process? Ask the Milton man on the street what encouraged them to get involved in that process. Don't try to reinvent the wheel, just do what they did. Bottom line is that nobody will support the district if they don't start communicating plans and vision to average Joe Evansville Citizen. Oh, that's right! They don't have a strategic plan yet. Kinda hard to communicate what you don't have.

Meanwhile, the district is floundering after a 42% increase in open enrollment tuition payments out of the district two years ago followed by a 33% increase this year. The amount spent two years ago was $384K, last year it was $548K and this year it is estimated they will spend $728K in tuition payments for people seeking to enroll their kids elsewhere. I'm still waiting to hear the summary of the reasons families opted for open enrollment out by Mike Czerwonka. I hope he gives the unvarnished truth and not what Jerry wants the board to hear. I just don't think they can ignore the fact that they have to spend three quarters of a million dollars to other school districts to educate our students anymore. That's over a hundred kids being enrolled out of the district, primarily at the Middle and High School levels. All signs point to the trend continuing, which predicts that the amount spent on the Open Enrollment Out line item in 2014-15 will top a million dollars. "But that's just people who want their kids to attend school close to their work," or "Those are people we don't want to attend our schools anyway." I think the ostrich needs to remove its head from the sand now and see the whole picture. See the annual meeting packet to view the budget figures yourself (p. 17 near the bottom of the page, "General Tuition payments"). http://www.ecsdnet.org/documents/Board%20Meetings/2013-2014/September/Annual%20Meeting%20Packet.pdf


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