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

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Tone of the ECSD Survey is Disappointing

My sources tell me that there are no plans to use the results of the ECSD community survey to help guide and implement a Strategic Plan based on community input and values. I hope this is wrong. I swear that during the several discussions about the survey and the rationalization of its hefty pricetag prior to the creation of the Citizens Advisory Committee, it was mentioned that a survey of the whole community was a way to get more comprehensive input than the former strategic planning process that was used in 2010.  This was supposed to ensure that the resultant Strategic Plan truly prioritized programs based on input from a larger part of the community. I can't argue with that. That's why I was under the impression that the school district survey results would be used to create a Strategic Plan for the ECSD, which is currently working without the benefit of this relatively standard business practice. What successful 20 million dollar businesses do you know that fly by the seat of their pants, allowing themselves to be blown willy nilly by the political wind du jour? I venture a guess that there are none. The lack of a strategic plan is probably the single most detrimental and divisive aspect in the district, leaving the current administration unable to prioritize business decisions past the end of their collective nose. A district with no strategic plan is rudderless and cannot begin to decide how to spend its meager resources with an eye to how those choices can help materialize the vision of the district. I will once again campaign on this appalling deficit in our district and, when elected, strongly encourage fellow board members to correct this glaring problem.

Even more distressing, it's pretty obvious that the survey has become a tool to gauge the community's receptiveness to go to referendum on a number of initiatives and programs.  It is sad that the district equates willingness to endorse going to referendum to fund an initiative with a person's support for a concept.  As I stated on my survey, I need more information to decide if a referendum is necessary, not just total cost. In addition, I don't support a referendum to pay recurring costs such as salary and benefits. Finally, since the district has amassed over a million dollars in the Fund 10 balance over the last six years, I suggested that they should quit socking away money in the bank account and exhaust their revenues before they ask to raise my property taxes, which already tops area mill rates, except Oregon, which is marginally higher (by a penny or two). This will not improve for the next six years because of the backloaded bond on the High School. This year we paid about 2.5 million on that bond, which is added atop the revenue limit. This increases annually until we owe over four million on that bond in 2020. Even if the district doesn't add any programs or increase spending one iota, our taxes will increase every year if everything else remains the same (property values, revenue, etc.). Maybe our district leadership can multitask here and use the data for more than one use and correct a glaring deficit in the district business model. Decisions will still be difficult, but identifying and defining priorities can make the process so much more straightforward.  I will continue to hope for the best.

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