Budget increase for the school board?
I recently reviewed the proposed budget on the Manatee school district's website. I was disturbed to find the budget for top-level administration had increased by more than 30 percent above the last budget -- for an increase of $767,155.
How can this be justified?
Then I looked back over the past year and found this roller coaster of financial news for the school board:
Never miss a local story.
In September 2013 the school board approved the 2013-2014 budget and declared that the "revamped" budgeting system had worked well and this was the "best budget in years."
Then in November 2013 the district announced that the budget approved in September by the school board was missing $3.9 million in unaccounted for expenditures. Deja vue all over again?
Then in the spring, the district announced they would need to pay $9 million in "fines and penalties" due to an audit. In actuality, the district received no fines or penalties, but would need to either appeal to the Department of Education or restore the money to the correct fund in the district budget. And this restoration could take place over two years.
Later in the spring, the district announced they would have $4 million more in reserves in the general fund than originally projected.
What level of confidence can we have in these projections coming from the district? The school district should be in better financial shape; the state provided Manatee Schools $26 million in additional funding in 2013-2014 and an additional $7.5 million for 2014-2015. That's a total of $33.5 million more funding over the two-year period.
Where has all this money gone? Certainly not to the schools.
We need change in the school board leadership.
Get out and vote on Aug. 26!