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Archive for Tuesday, November 24, 2009

School district may have to tap contingency fund

November 24, 2009

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The Lawrence school district administration was in the mindset that the school board would have to find another $2 million in cutbacks when the latest round of budget cuts was announced.

But after Gov. Mark Parkinson presented his spending adjustments Monday, that number grew by more than $1 million.

The Lawrence school district is now looking at another $3.3 million cut for this school year.

“Those numbers are big,” Superintendent Rick Doll told the school board Monday night. “We already cut close to 2.5 million. We’re approaching 10 percent of our general fund in one year.”

School board President Scott Morgan said that the district is in better shape than most.

“We have been responsible,” he said. “We have a contingency fee that will help us to some extent.”

However, Morgan also said that state lawmakers have not been responsible with money and public education is making up for it.

“I put it squarely on Topeka,” he said. “The effect that we are feeling is because (they) did not deal with it there so we are left to deal with it here because frankly, we have no choice.”

The district administration will wait for final figures to be released by the state and then make decisions on what to cut and how much of the contingency fund to use.

Comments

Marion Lynn 4 years, 4 months ago

They will kick off, they will kick off!*

*Bill Cosby reference.

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2Bfrank 4 years, 4 months ago

that's right commuter.....then there are the fees of $425 to play football?

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commuter 4 years, 4 months ago

I am disappointed. From what I was told, LHS football purchased new football uniforms while some choirs had to raise money themselves to pay for uniforms that are over 10 years old. The arts and minor sports are second fiddle to the big sports. I have bought gift cards to help pay for new Free State soccer unforms. Maybe football players, baseball, and basketball players should have to go out and fundraise for new uniforms.

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 4 months ago

I'm wonderin' which of the members of the so-called "School Board" and the City Komission were high school participants in futbol, beseboru or soccer?

That whole "jock mentality", you see.................

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 4 months ago

"toe (Anonymous) says…

If the school has money squirreled away, where did they get it? Did they collect more taxes than they needed? The taxpayer provides for capital and general fund revenues. Both are at the request of the board. Not one, but two football fields later, we have a crisis. Many taxpayers are not going to do anything but hand a towel to the Board so they can cry."

Marion writes:

The Goodly Citizens of Lawrence need to hand the members of the so-called "school board", not only pink slips but maybe indictments as well.

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toe 4 years, 4 months ago

If the school has money squirreled away, where did they get it? Did they collect more taxes than they needed? The taxpayer provides for capital and general fund revenues. Both are at the request of the board. Not one, but two football fields later, we have a crisis. Many taxpayers are not going to do anything but hand a towel to the Board so they can cry.

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 4 months ago

"Boston_Corbett (Anonymous) says…

Funny, Marion once again demonstrates he can not comprehend state law."

Marion writes:

Oh, Boston you are such a caution!

Marion understands state law perfectly!

Marion also perfectly understands the irresponsibility demonstrated by the so-calld "school board"; those to which we entrust the education of our children, in obligating taxpayers for futbol, beseboru and soccer stadiums when that same so-called "school board" knew that education funding was going to go to Hell in a handbasket.

Astroturf forever!

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2Bfrank 4 years, 4 months ago

When are they going to start construction on the LHS football stadium restrooms?

When is USD 497 going to finish the pressbox for LHS stadium with ADA compliant access and parking?

When is USD 497 going to finish the tennis courts over on Greever near Centennial Virtual School?

Freestate already has their football restroom/locker completed thanks to a significant donor.

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2Bfrank 4 years, 4 months ago

Very glad that they did have a contingency fund.

Any large business or enterprise - isn't their budget $45 million? should have one.

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budwhysir 4 years, 4 months ago

I say go for it since this fund is contingent on our leaders making poor choices and being unable to see into the near future enough to plan for a cold winter. Imagine if the budget was cut in the olden days, might not have enough matches to light that old stove and keep warm

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Boston_Corbett 4 years, 4 months ago

Funny, Marion once again demonstrates he can not comprehend state law.

What happened to your friend 2bfrank, Marion? Is he at the roulette wheel again?

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 4 months ago

$14 - $20 Million for stadiums have anything to do with it maybe?

Funny; lots of money for futbol, beseboru ans soccer but no money for education.

Worker bees, anyone?

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BadLlama 4 years, 4 months ago

Again, if you don't like how school finance is handled regarding general fund and capital outlay, blame the tax laws, NOT the district. Newsflash: the same things are happening in ALL districts. EVERYONE is suffering because of these cuts. I teach in a district near Lawrence that has to cut another $3 million out of the budget. That's in addition to the 5% cut made last year. We're dipping into contingency funds so that I can have a paycheck this month! Guess what? There are more cuts coming. Maybe when large amounts of teachers are collecting unemployment, schools are unable to make AYP or stay accredited, and graduation rates plummet (creating still more unemployed workers) legislators will get the message.

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 4 months ago

"Boston_Corbett (Anonymous) says…

And as we contemplate these things, lets remember that the annual costs of a single member of our military deployed to Afghanistan is now one million dollars a year. Regardless of your opinion on that issue, dollars are dollars. 1,000 troops is a billion dollars a year.

As we think about deploying 30 some thousand additional troops, I wonder how much security two or three hundred troops provides and wonder if some budget holes should be fixed around here instead. Heck, a few dozen would fully finance health care for the uninsured in Kansas.

Or maybe we should pass a sales tax to pay for these additional troops?"

Marion writes:

Boston, does you above reprinted post represent the "Hope And Change" promised by your president Barack Hussein Obownow?

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Boston_Corbett 4 years, 4 months ago

And as we contemplate these things, lets remember that the annual costs of a single member of our military deployed to Afghanistan is now one million dollars a year. Regardless of your opinion on that issue, dollars are dollars. 1,000 troops is a billion dollars a year.

As we think about deploying 30 some thousand additional troops, I wonder how much security two or three hundred troops provides and wonder if some budget holes should be fixed around here instead. Heck, a few dozen would fully finance health care for the uninsured in Kansas.

Or maybe we should pass a sales tax to pay for these additional troops?

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Boston_Corbett 4 years, 4 months ago

imastinker & others: kugrad is 100% correct. It is existing state law.

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SnakeFist 4 years, 4 months ago

Tomatogrower said :"If the schools didn't have contingency funds, teachers wouldn't get paid this month...Don't you have a savings account for when your car breaks, or you get laid off. If you don't, you are the fool. Why should a state entity run any different than a personal budget?"

You're kidding, right? The difference is that MY savings account contains MY money, whereas the state entity's savings acount does not contain ITS money because it doesn't have any money of its own. The state entity is hoarding state money that could be used for other more needed expenditures. How much is sitting in contingency funds while the state complains about having no money? Tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars? Does anyone even know?

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kugrad 4 years, 4 months ago

imastinker, I did read what you wrote, but the school district budget doesn't work that way. No matter how creative you want to be, the funds can't cross between the two funds. Occasionally, the state has looked the other way when building maintanence funds were used to pay the guys in maintenance who mow the lawns and so forth, but that is about it. I'm not sure what creative budget practices you have in mind, but the district is pretty adept at those games provided they are allowed. Still, there is a wall between the general fund and capital outlays that cannot be broached.

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imastinker 4 years, 4 months ago

KUgrad - did you read what I wrote earlier?

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ralphralph 4 years, 4 months ago

State handling of school finance turns it into something like federal funding. Example: capital outlay funds don't count because you have to use-them-or-lose-them, and it's a different kind of money. Ahem. Not in the old days, where a local board would make a reasoned decision based on actual needs of the district, and could balance between capital and operating as the situation dictated. Removing control removes responsibility which removes common sense and makes the capital outlay money seem like something magic or pretend, with no effect on operations. School finance happens too far from home.

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salad 4 years, 4 months ago

Thing (Anonymous) says… "rgh, honestly. Quit being an apologist for the Maobama administration." He's not, he's just making the right response to the wrong question.

"How long can you keep using that excuse?" For as long as it's valid, soooooo....forever?

"The current administration is not getting anyone out of debt, it is getting all of us deeper and deeper in debt than Bush ever could have" Wrong.....but you do parrot Glenrushbeck Hannity-O'Reilly perfectly.

"your whine doesn't hold water." Checking for leaks.....don't see any......yep, it's water tight. Thing-whine, on the otherhand: leaking like a KCMO watermain.

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kugrad 4 years, 4 months ago

Avoice, you may be tired of the capital outlay fund vs. general fund argument, but that doesn't change the facts. The seperation of these two funds is NOT the district's decision and there is NOTHING the district can do about it. It is the law. It can only be changed by the legislature in Topeka. On the topic of contingency funds, it was very wise and fiscally prudent of the district to maintain a contingency funds. Some districts do not, and they are going to be hurting big time. Guess who else has a contingency fund that is sitting unused? The State of Kansas! This fund is controlled by the legislature (not the Governor) and is in the $200 million dollar range. I guess the current economic crisis isn't enough of an emergency for them to dip into that fund. The Republicans in Topeka (and I don't mention them to be partisan, this is just a fact) like to pretend their hands are tied and they 'can't' access the funds, but this is just political doublespeak, as they control the laws that control the access. The problems we are facing come from 1 source, the legislature in Topeka. They irresponsibly cut revenues too far for short-term political gain. They failed to live up to their duty to solve the school funding issues (and other funding issues) that are their responsibility. They have passed tax hikes on to cities by cutting funds that are absolutely necessary and requiring local governments to make up the difference (and take the undeserved blame for the resulting tax hikes). They have just been irresponsible and now the chickens are coming home to roost. Outraged? Contact Topeka, that is where the problem lies.

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salad 4 years, 4 months ago

Oh my gawd!!! If this budget crisis persists, there might be district level educrats that won't be able to afford to expand their vacation homes!!! Why gawd??? Why????

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chargdup 4 years, 4 months ago

My children are too young for school, but when they're ready to go, we're seriously considering other options and keeping them out of Lawrence Public Schools.

The building of a football field while talking about closing schools is exactly the kind of character I don't want my children to have imprinted with from this school district. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm with bozo on this one: the capital expense vs. general expense argument during a financial crisis is bunk.

It's our tax dollars, and building that stadium shows the school district cares more about sports than education.

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Thing 4 years, 4 months ago

rgh, honestly. Quit being an apologist for the Maobama administration. How long can you keep using that excuse? The current administration is not getting anyone out of debt, it is getting all of us deeper and deeper in debt than Bush ever could have, you your whine doesn't hold water.

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parrotuya 4 years, 4 months ago

No cuts are necessary. A little birdie told me that there is ~ 15 million buried in the LHS athletic fields. The school board members just need to show there with shovels to dig it up. Problem solved!

DOWn, baby, DOWn!

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2Bfrank 4 years, 4 months ago

whoa is this a weak argument!

stlcards515 (Anonymous) says… Bozo, do you have any idea how much it costs the district to rent out Haskell to LHS and Free State? Thousands of dollars a game. So don't complaining about things that will pay for themselves in the long run.

LHS / Freestate both needed their athletic field improvements, and these should have been designed with adequate long term parking, drainage, and setbacks from adjacent residential properties that met code minimum recommendations - but USD 497 did not exactly moderate spending, rather they have spent a lot that arguably was not necessary such as the Astro-turf with only an 8 year warranty and relatively high maintenance costs vs. dirt. Astroturf is not precisely needed for high school softball x2, high school soccer x2, or high school baseball x2.

Haskell rental was $80,000 per year. the interest alone on the new fields is $250,000 per year and over $15million in 'capital expense' with no bond issue vote ever presented to the public.

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rgh 4 years, 4 months ago

If we as a society don't want to spend our money on educating children today, then don't expect much from them in 20 or 30 years. It's either pay me now or pay later and I'm willing to pay now and not later when I'm retirement age which is certainly a lot sooner than 20 years.

Constitutionally, the state of Kansas is not following its own guidelines, regulations, and laws. Of course we keep electing these people at the same time. Unfortunately, we have no one to blame but ourselves. The trouble is that the minority of voters are going to pay for the majorities' mistakes in the coming years.

We gave Bush 8 years with a conservative congress (not all republicans, that's not fair) to get us here. Now people want Obama and moderate/liberal congress out less than 1 year to try and fix those 8 years of messes.

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tomatogrower 4 years, 4 months ago

SnakeFist (Anonymous) says… Why are state-funded entities allowed to amass “contingency funds”? How much taxpayer money is sitting in contingency funds right now? Maybe the state and local governments should reclaim and redistribute those funds before seeking more through tax increases.

If the schools didn't have contingency funds, teachers wouldn't get paid this month. And unexpected repairs would not get fixed. Don't you have a savings account for when your car breaks, or you get laid off. If you don't, you are the fool. Why should a state entity run any different than a personal budget?

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tomatogrower 4 years, 4 months ago

avoice (Anonymous) says… I get so tired of the “capital expense” vs. “general fund” argument. People, these dollars are ALL our tax dollars. If we have too much in the capital expense fund and not enough in the general fund, then we need to make some priority adjustments.

I agree, but you need to talk to your reps in Topeka. Their the ones who determine this, not the schools.

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Thing 4 years, 4 months ago

I also agree with bozo. Oh my God!

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SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 4 months ago

A concern I have is that some commenters want to unnecessarily increase taxes AND maintain multi-million dollar outlays for football stadiums, luscious landscaping and soccer field huts.

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bendover61 4 years, 4 months ago

Didn't the Kansas Supreme Court force the state to spend the large amount we have been spending on the schools?

Isn't their word the law?

Doesn't that make Parkinson a criminal?

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SnakeFist 4 years, 4 months ago

Why are state-funded entities allowed to amass "contingency funds"? How much taxpayer money is sitting in contingency funds right now? Maybe the state and local governments should reclaim and redistribute those funds before seeking more through tax increases.

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imastinker 4 years, 4 months ago

I also understand the rules very well - having spend years as part of a city government as an elected official.

The simple fact is that what restricts a person is the budget set at the beginning of the year. At the end of each year money can be encumbered for use somewhere else and the funds can be creatively written to allow more general purposes.

For instance - instead of a building fund it can be changed at the end of a budget cycle to a capital outlay fund. A capital outlay fund might be able to fund large repairs or renovations or even replacement of vehicles and other equipment or those items can come out of a general fund. Another example would be a "public safety" fund instead of separate fire and police.

The purpose of budgeting is this way is to keep from overspending and allow the entity to save, but not to restrict use like this. Our budget was written to allow a lot of freedom in it but we had a "line item" budget which was much more restrictive in use and more stingy with expenditures - but it was at our discretion to follow the "line item" budget or not. We are obligated to follow the general budget that is passed.

The general budget may have half a dozen different categories but the line item budget may have ten times that amount. It allow us to move money from fire to police and back if needed but keep under the umbrella of public safety.

Keep at them - these are just excuses (although they might not even know that they are themselves).

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stlcards515 4 years, 4 months ago

Bozo, do you have any idea how much it costs the district to rent out Haskell to LHS and Free State? Thousands of dollars a game. So don't complaining about things that will pay for themselves in the long run.

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WilburM 4 years, 4 months ago

I understand the capital expense/operating expense issue. These are state-mandated rules. But in an emergency, the state can change the rules. Is there any reason that the Legislature (or the Legislative Coordinating Council, or the Gov. for that matter) could not suspend these rules for a certain amount of time? The symbolism of spending lavishly on athletics while short-changing education is truly bad, to say nothing of the substance of these expenditures.

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BadLlama 4 years, 4 months ago

School finance is complicated. There is a general fund and a capital outlay fund. One cannot pay for needs in another. The sports facilities are funded from capital outlay (which is collected from the community), and teachers and educational programs are funded through the general fund (from the state).

http://www.examiner.com/x-29491-Topeka-K12-Examiner~y2009m11d9-Public-School-Finance-101

and

http://www.examiner.com/x-29491-Topeka-K12-Examiner~y2009m11d13-Public-school-finance-102-state-and-local-taxes

USD 497 did not build these facilities using money that would keep class sizes down or retain teachers. Capital outlay has to be used for facilities and equipment only. Stop whining about it. If you don't like the funding and tax laws, call your representatives.

The state is reneging on their promise to put money into each school's general fund. Too many tax cuts and poor spending have resulted in people losing jobs and children losing education. You simply cannot cut taxes and expect to retain quality education and government programs. No one wants a tax increase, but it's a fact of state-funded education.

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avoice 4 years, 4 months ago

I get so tired of the "capital expense" vs. "general fund" argument. People, these dollars are ALL our tax dollars. If we have too much in the capital expense fund and not enough in the general fund, then we need to make some priority adjustments. And if the argument for preserving capital expense funding is that it's needed for building maintenance, then it sure looks like we can maintain what we have with a lot less dollars. Teachers educate our children, not bells and whistles. And certainly not football stadiums.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

"Like them or not, the “fields” were a capital expense and therefore not subject to the general fund crisis."

Whatever legal hurdles there are that prevented the excess funds from being transferred for use on more pressing needs is very short-sighted. Rather than imposing a use-it-or-lose decision-making process on the school board, it would have been much preferable for that funding to have gone into the contingency fund rather than into football fields which are luxuries, not necessities.

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2Bfrank 4 years, 4 months ago

4getaboutit omits

that your Douglas County Property Tax Information sheet clearly shows that the USD 497 portion was down 3% for general revenue, but their 'bond & interest' charges went up 19.4% for 2009 vs the previous year. that increase is for the athletic fields at Freestate/LHS.

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4getabouit 4 years, 4 months ago

Like them or not, the "fields" were a capital expense and therefore not subject to the general fund crisis. One could have spent no money on fields or any other facility and still be cutting 3.3 million. The school board president is correct and should be commended for building up the contingency fund over the past several years. There are some of us out here who actually understand how schools and other government entities are funded and fully appreciate the efforts of our local elected leaders. It is clear the school board was foresighted and responsible when it made the decision to put away dollars during good economic years. Because of this effort the immediate crisis can be managed on a local level. On the other hand, our state elected leaders seem clueless regarding the construction and maintenance a multi-year budget system that provides essential services. Perhaps it is time for state and federal government to get out of the way and let our local officials manage their own systems. No more state and federal mandates.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

"School board President Scott Morgan said that the district is in better shape than most.

“We have been responsible,” he said. “We have a contingency fee that will help us to some extent.”"

$3.3 million in the hole, but we've been "responsible" by spending at least that much on football stadiums we don't need.

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