Retrospective on Board of Education Spending

CLICK TO VIEW CHART REFERENCED BELOW BoE_Restrospect_Chart

This year’s Board of Education budget process has been challenging. There have been substantial changes in the way the budget is being presented this year. The most noticeable difference being the greater amount of information being provided. For example, personnel positions that are paid for through grant funding, and never reported in the BoE budget book, are now included by site and department.

With this greater degree of transparency, there have certainly been some growing pains. I call them growing pains because it’s difficult to accept and adapt to change. I know that for me the change in reporting has certainly thrown me for a loop, but I greatly appreciate the commitment that our Superintendent, Dr. Cooke, and his cabinet, have made to provide the public with all the information. Instead of, as we have clearly seen, making moves behind the scenes to make the budget work without having the BoE, and public, know that the district does not, at all times, have the best handle on what is needed to operate the district.

I said that last line, in my mind, with sarcasm because it is unrealistic to believe that we should expect perfection at all times. What I am looking for is the opportunity to have conversations – real conversations – that are based on facts. In my opinion, this is something that we are still working on.

With that said, I was quite surprised by a graph that was presented during the first public forum held on February 3, 2015 at L.P. Wilson. I’ve included the graph for you to review yourself. Please note, that there are some discrepancies in the numbers provided as data points provided along the lines. However, from my reading, I would say that arguing the data points only distracts from the main point, which is, we have a spending problem without accountability.

Let me first address any argument made that the whole graph should be thrown out because the numbers can be challenged. The reason why the numbers are different across data sources is most likely because there has yet to be consistency in reporting protocols within the district. But, also there are discrepancies in the reported numbers by year when you look across data sources. It appears that there has yet to be a widely recognized single data source that can be used to guide any discussion that looks retrospectively at BoE spending in Windsor.

For example, it was only two years ago that the district reported the number of Windsor children who attended magnet schools. Therefore, the argument that the numbers before 2013 are inaccurate because they don’t account for magnet school students is only a distraction from the real point. If anything, the lack of information provided on the expenses associated with magnet schools, including tuition, transportation, and special education, is a limitation of the Windsor BoE budget, not of the graph.

The second argument that could be made is that the per-pupil cost is substantially less when the number of students accounted for in the total operating budget is adjusted to reflect the actual student enrollment numbers that are calculated at the end of the school year. It appears that the graph includes the NESDEC (http://www.nesdec.org/) projected student enrollment that is available in each adopted budget book, and which is used to justify the proposed budget for the following year. Although somewhat confusing, Windsor residents are led to believe that the budget proposed by the Superintendent is necessary given the projected student enrollment for the next school year. In any regards, the difference is arguably insignificant when the larger point is considered.

At this point, you might be asking yourself, what is that point of the graph? Well for me, the point is that we are spending a lot of money with little justification for that spending. I was shocked by the graph when it was presented at the public forum. Yes, it was probably created for that shock effect, but maybe that’s what we need. Instead of just talking numbers, we need to see these numbers compared through trend lines. The fact of the matter is that our budget has doubled, as in we have seen a more than 30 MILLION DOLLAR increase in the budget in the same time period that more than 1,000 students have left our district.
Personally, I believe that the graph is awesome. It probably took a while to sort through everything, and the main point should not be lost in the low level arguments that the numbers aren’t consistent across sources. The sources are the problem, not the graph.

I would ask that whoever created the graph put together a comparison between data sources for the data points provided for the years ’01, ’09, ’11, and ’16. We would be happy to post it here on WindsorRights.

COMMENTS, THOUGHTS, QUESTIONS??? Post below!

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3 comments

  1. It’s time that we hold the line of the BOE’s MBR (Minimum Budget Requirement) for Windsor.

    This is a handcuff that the state places on the towns so that they CANNOT REDUCE the towns BOE budget NO MATTER WHAT especially since Windsor is placed in what is called the Alliance program because of its poor performance (Windsor is in the bottom 20% of the state).

    Every time we allow the BOE to increase their budget, we raise the MBR bar that cannot be reduced or defunded, this is why it is imperative to stop the Hemorrhaging now of our tax dollars for the fiscal mismanagement and poor results by its leaders.

    The BOE has an over bloated budget “Especially Administratively”, they are not transparent, fiscally responsible or accountable to the towns taxpayers, they’re like out of control teenagers with a credit card killing the host, and it must be stopped at the Voting Booth on May 12th.

    TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO GET TO THE POLLS MAY 12TH AND VOTE NO!
    Just like we did 2 years ago when we finally got a zero budget increase to happen.

    The BOE needs to be smarter and work harder at efficiently using the 67+% or clearly 2/3rds of the towns total revenue that they control (a good start would be trimming down administration).

    Get to the polls on May 12th and send them back to the drawing board with no Increase in the BOE’s MBR Budget for 2016.

    Mr. Sousa’s town side of the budget is OK and is fiscally responsible, thank you Peter, it’s the BOE and its leadership that needs to be held fiscally responsible with our tax dollars!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Real Life In CT and commented:
    Watching the BoE meetings on the cable tv at night can get the blood pressure raised.
    We are getting stuck with higher taxes because the democrats want to waste more money & they aren’t making the education any better for our children they are just wasting money on the newest shiney imported overpriced circus toy that breaks soon after taking it out of the package. Unlike when the circus comes to town where we try to distract the children away from the outrageous cost we parents & homeowners can’t change the channel & try to pretend the circus is not in town right now with all of it’s clowns & circus acts & shiney expensive toys that look pretty but offer nothing of value.

    It’s very sad to watch both at the state & the town level budget process as the people are being lied to about costs & need.
    Why does it seem that the only way that democrats can get things pushed through is to lie & the people do not bother to question those lies? When will people start asking the questions that need to be asked & call out the democrats when they exaggerate or in some cases (too many cases) out right lie?

    Like

  3. More information (2013-14) on Windsor Schools – Here is state report on the High School. No current graduation rates yet.
    http://www.csde.state.ct.us/public/performancereports/Reports/2014/Fac_1646111.pdf

    School Performance Index are terrible. So according to Trinks (a few town meetings ago he mentioned) be proud we graduate so many students but what he fails to say is that they are probably unprepared for college (depending on where they go) as indicated by all missed SPI target scores.

    Sage Park seems no better.

    Pretty awful what Santos said prior to town meeting (before 3rd vote I think) when she outright lied about the Discovery Center (trying to pit it against the schools) and how it was supported by the town budget and doesn’t pass inspections. It is nearly 100% self supported from tuition (it ain’t cheap) and recently passed a State inspection. Just call them!

    I would like to understand, with empirical proof, how throwing more money at the schools academic issues make things better. It has not for many years (just look at the scores). Of course we spend millions on sports though, and you hear more glorification about football, etc. that you do about academics.

    Like

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