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The Devil is in the details

By Staff | May 15, 2012

As the Jefferson County Board of Education continues to consider their budget for FY 13, the idea that the members need to look at all of the financial details is one that should have been carried out before now.

At Tuesday evening’s special meeting to discuss the budget, Alan Sturm pointed out that the board should have looked at everything before now.

That is an understatement. The board should have recognized that the economy continues to sink and that the tax revenue in the county continues to decrease.

It is difficult to understand how the board members and the superintendent could not see shortfalls coming.

Regardless of Ms. Wall’s description of a “perfect storm” that all came together at once to cause the excessive Reduction in Force numbers and 10 percent cuts across the board, the writing should have been on the wall.

The economy has been failing for more than the past year.

Now the members have been warned again and again by their treasurer that the next two years will continue to see a shortfall in budget numbers: $1.5 million in FY 14 and $3 million in FY 15. Now is the time to act to help prevent catastrophic results. Now is the time to look at the budget and see where additional savings can come. Now is the time to seek input from the staff: teachers and service personnel, who may have ideas to help with savings rather than simply slashing staffing in the future in an effort to fix the problem with one fell swoop.

The status of the State Board of Education and their financial woes will also have an effect locally. The board members need to look at those numbers as well as local numbers and prepare for the worst.

It is always nice to have extra funds leftover, but nearly impossible to come back from behind without being detrimental to the system. The board must consider eliminating such things as supplemental pay (bonuses) for employees at the current time.

In addition, the central office needs to be examined and work done to eliminate wasteful spending there. The last place a cut should be made is where the staff is needed the most: in the classroom.

Preparation needs to be made now to avoid those cuts next spring.