After scouring the current budget for any additional efficiencies, the Superintendent will present a level services budget. Although some have expressed a preference that the budget be constructed in a zero-based format, I've gone over in previous postings several reasons why we are dealing with purely semantical distinctions when we talk about zero-based budgeting in schools.
We start with zero; then add in those statutory and regulatory requirements, and zoom, quicker than mercury, you are suddenly looking at expenses that amount to about 80% of the budget. The rest is "discretionary spending"- like raises, heating, books, computers, classroom supplies.
You know, after thinking a lot about it; I might actually be willing to bring in a consultant and put together a zero-based budget with two stipulations. First that it is consistent with our vision and goals of promoting student achievement; and second if the City would agree to fund the differential between what we are operating the schools on now, and what it will really cost to comply with statutory regulations and meet our goals of promoting student achievement using best practices; which of course, would be the desired outcome of a zero-based budget practice. Spend more efficiently, get better results. Cut an explore teacher at the middle school, and you can then efficiently serve 102 kids in a gym class three or four times a week.
Because "zero-based" budgeting for this school system at this time is a red herring that prevents the community from looking honestly at the issues it faces, and the choices it has to make.
The Superintendent will then present a "value-added budget", which will consist of baseline recommendations that need to be met this budget year, in some cases restructuring last year's cuts, in other cases making critical building modifications to make the buildings more secure.
We will be presented both budgets tonite; we will then begin the process of reconciling them, which will involve numerous community hearings. The two documents, in the opinion of this particular School Committee member, and completely interlocking; they cannot be considered independently of each other.
Although we will not specifically be dealing with the revenue side of the budget tonite, we are expecting Mayor Moak to briefly discuss the city-side contributions to the next school budget.
The Mayor has asked the Revenue Task Force to hold off on giving an update to the community at this meeting.
This is the beginning of the discussion.
Then starts the wild rumpus.