District Budgets Lack Transparency
In District 281, the lack of transparency is the silo money management style the district has embraced. Silo money management is a problem becaue program details are omitted. Making decisions without all the information is unsustainable.
The annual budget reports are not alligned to specific departments/programs and details are excluded. The financial report (Annual Comprehensive Financial Report) to the Board is a narrative and the Board does not ask the detail questions. Transparency is found in the details and the budgets presented lack the details.
I am accustomed to budgets (from business to government) showing all inclusive costs associated with a department or program. To manage all the money and programs, all the costs must be evident. Management makes their best decisions when presented with all the details.
The Robbinsdale budget excludes the cost of building and maintenance from program budgets. It does not show current total cost of a program because buildings are siloed seperately. Cost and maintenance of buildings cannot be ignored during budget planning.
As the district enrollment continues to drop, there is no data to suggest how to budget, how to reallocate if necessary. There is no total current cost to any one program making all the programs unsustainable over time. The Board needs to know how much it costs to run programs and that must include the buildings per program and other omitted line items.
Using Community Education as an example, the budget of the Adult Academics program budget does not reflect the $1 million charged annually by the Crystal Shopping Center for the space occupied by this program.
Last year the Adult Academics program produced 26 graduates. If the building rental costs are broken down amoung these 26 graduates, the cost per student is $38,000. Not sustainable. Of course this does not include the number of students enrolled but not yet eligible for graduation, but you get the point.
The details provide necessry information for management’s use during decision making. The current Board looks at the budget from such a high level, it prevents them from knowing where the money is spent.
A secondary issue of the District’s budget is found in it’s accounting methodology. The Annual Comprehensive Financial Report tells us on page 5 of the Introduction: . . .”To accurately track and report financial activities with a focus on site-based accounting, approximately 15,000 accounts have been defined within the District’s chart of accounts.”
A chart of accounts of more than 15,000 accounts is absured and outnumbers our student population of 10,763.
We (Aileen White and Kim Holmes and myself, candidates for school board) show up at Listening time and ask many questions, including:
1. How much are we paying for outside consultants? What are we getting in return?
2. What are our monthly expenditures for technology vendors and why/for what?
3. What are District’s total legal costs, including settlements paid to staff and students. How are payouts coded?
4. As student population decreased, Administration expenses increased, why?
5. When the reserve fund be replenished? And will need to strip the fund again in the 2024 budget cycle?
When we are elected, our plan is to have these and many more questions answered.
Thanks for taking the time to visit my page. Let me know if you have questions or concerns. I hope I can count on your for your vote in this important election.