Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Osborne repeatedly claimed that voters could ask questions at various public meetings leading up to the bond vote on December 15th and those questions would be posed then answered in an online FAQ. In fact, the FAQ was not initially updated at all, for about 2 months, and ultimately a very few of the questions asked were answered in the FAQ and of those that were some were edited to allow the District to provide self-serving answers to questions they wanted to answer rather than what was actually asked by the voter.
In the belief that past is prologue, this time we are going to keep track of our questions here and then monitor whether these questions are posed (as submitted, not edited to alter their meaning) in the FAQ and answered as once again as has been promised by Dr. Osborne.
As we ask more questions (in meetings or online) we will submit them to [email protected], monitor what happens with the FAQ and report back.
From: <[email protected]>
Date: January 15, 2016 at 11:03:10 AM EST
Subject: six budget questions
1. Over the last couple of years, the district spent $800,000 per year on outside legal services and zero on in-house counsel including no lawyer regularly present at school board meetings. How much will be budgeted for outside legal services and in-house legal services?
2. Dr. Osborne brought up non-budgeted emergency projects in the context of the first budget input meeting in January and credited Jeff White and Arturo Rivera with regards to time & attendance systems, materials and inventory. Were the TimePiece and SchoolDude systems FULLY implemented? If not what is the current tine line to complete full implementation? How does or how will these systems impact their relevant line items in the budget compared to past years? What types of savings do you expect from these systems, will those savings be reflected in budget, if so how?
3. Who took on role of Assistant Superintendent (Curriculum and Instruction)? What happened to that line item in the budget? Who has been getting that money over the past 13 months since Dr. Korostoff retired effective December 31, 2014 and who will get that money going forward?
4. Are you budgeting to replace the roof at Webster? If you have a bond vote and a budget vote on May 17th then you would not know whether the bond vote would pass at the time you are finalizing your budget so this might present a conundrum. How do you propose to handle that issue?
5. Rachel Relkin announced at the first budget input meeting in January that the district would prepare the 2016-17 school budget using "zero-based budgeting" but did not elaborate. Do you intend to offer any sort of tutorial for voters to educate them on this change from how the the district budgeted in the past (traditional incremental budgeting where departmental managers/principals justify only variances versus past years based on the assumption that the "baseline" is automatically approved) to the new zero-based budgeting, (where every line item of the budget, rather than only the changes, must be approved)?
6. How do you square the claim that the district will use zero-based budgeting which requires that the budget request be re-evaluated thoroughly (starting from the zero-base) without reference to the past when about 70% of the district cost is personnel and the current union contract, which accounts for the vast majority of that cost, contains a 1.5% across-the-board pay increase?