Letter to the Editor

Reader offers musings on school corporation budget for fiscal year 2011

Sunday, September 12, 2010

To the Editor:

For the past several years, I have watched the battle of the budget play out in the governments of the City of Brazil and Clay County. These entities go through multiple meetings to decide their budgets, going through the budgets of each department almost line item by line item in public meetings.

It cannot be easy to do that, but it is cost-effective.

However, the largest budget in the county is not subjected to the same scrutiny. The proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011 for the Clay Community Schools Corporation was advertised in The Brazil Times on Aug. 18, the required public hearing was held Aug. 31, and Monday, the School Board will vote to either adopt this budget or decline it.

They will do so with only a vague notion of where the money is going and why.

Not only that, but if the past few years reveal a trend, sometime during the year ahead, the members of the board will be brought a recommendation by the corporation's administration to move surplus funds into the Rainy Day Fund.

The proposed budget for Clay County was a total of $3,842,485, which could not be funded, therefore, the $449,557 was unfunded had to be cut somewhere out of the six levy-supported funds.

The school corporation's budget totals almost $43 million or 11 times the county's proposed budget!

If it could be reduced by the same 11 percent as the county budget, it would save the taxpayer $4.73 million or allow that amount to be better invested in education!

If approved as is, will the tax money be spent on education as proposed or will it be held in the Rainy Day Fund and the end-of-year cash balance?

Are we investing fully in the education of the students in attendance today so that they will have the education required for employment so they can fund the education of the students who will follow them or not?

"Budget-finagling" has always occurred in government and I have no doubt that it always will in all levels of government to a certain degree.

However, when there is little scrutiny the opportunity abounds. The amount of money being spent to renovate Meridian and Eastside Elementary schools is a prime example. Why did it take $13 million to renovate these buildings?

Partly, it was because they were poorly designed in the first place, but the portion that was caused by the handling of the budget was caused by the CPF being used for things other than building maintenance.

While that is not a condemnation of any person, it is an indication that somewhere in history, some poor decisions were made.

As a taxpayer and a member of the Clay County community, I would like to see greater care being taken with the largest taxpayer-funded budget in the community even if that care requires more effort than the law demands.

Leo L. Southworth,