So, I decided to start up a blog about my involvement with the Christina School District’s financial operations. As you can tell from the “Who Am I?” section of my blog, I serve on the District’s Citizen’s Budget Oversight Committee (CBOC) and I wanted to create a way to get my experience with CBOC out there in the public without writing status update after status update after status update on Facebook. So I went back to blogging. It’s been a number of years since I’ve blogged, so bear with me as I get back into the swing of it. Without further ado:
Meeting to review the month of July financials for the CSD took place Wednesday August 20, 2014.
This was a pretty easy meeting as far as the financials go. End of FY2014 and the very beginning of FY2015 left not much to be reviewed in terms of monies in and out of the districts coffers. Instead, we had a much more interesting discussion about the future financial health of the school district. Specifically, the very significant need to raise revenues. The district will need to go out for a capital referendum and an operating referendum in the near future. In simpler terms, the district needs to raise taxes to pay for building improvements (capital) and to continue to pay the increasing cost of operations (staffing, teachers, transportation). To do that, a public vote on raising the school taxes must be held. We’re not even in the pre-planning stages yet to be honest. The Board of Education has not even formally voted on whether to go out for a referendum or not. Personally, I’m expecting them to approve it but I just don’t know when. As with any policy making body, they take their sweet time. During the last board meeting there was at least some discussion among the present board members and the district Superintendent that a referendum was needed. All they mentioned was the operating referendum. The truth of the matter is, the district sorely needs to upgrade its buildings. Money for paying people to work in the district and money to pay for building upkeep comes from two different “pots” so to speak. You can’t use operating money to pay for buildings and you can’t use capital money to pay for operations. So to improve both you have to get taxpayer approval on a “Capital Referendum” and a separate yet equally important “Operating Referendum”. But we can’t even begin talking about either one until the board decides to vote them. As any parent of a CSD child will know, the buildings in the district need some help. For that, we need a capital referendum to pass.
The feeling among CBOC is that during the next School Board meeting (scheduled for September 9th) the board will vote to officially begin the planning process for the referendum. Like all public elections, this will involve a massive campaign that will touch everyone in the district. Teachers, administrators, parents, students, everyone. The first step (depending on which of the referendums the Board approves, hopefully both!)will be scheduling public workshops to get as many people involved in the planning process as possible. Let’s not put the cart before the horse though. The board MUST vote on whether to go out for referendums or not. They’ve been dragging their heels somewhat over the last few months on this issue, but the financial position of the district was made abundantly clear to them at the last meeting. CSD, in its current state, will not be able to survive without increased revenues. I’m hoping the board will act on the 9th.
This will be an incredibly delicate and complex project but I’m very excited to be part of it. I want to be involved as much as I can from the very early planning stages to the education of the general public about what we’re doing and why we need to do it. I don’t want to say it will be fun, because our schools are in dire need of funds, but I’m anticipating enjoying each part of this process. Provided the Board does what they need to next month.