The city is wrapping up its budget for the 2020 fiscal year. Part of that is allocating local funds to the school district. At a meeting this week, assembly members questioned why the district didn’t provide certain financial information. Now assembly members say they are in the dark when it comes to figuring out the true cost of public education in town.
The school district puts its budget together independently of the city. Its school board signs off on that budget. But the city assembly does step in to say how much of its own funds the district will receive.
The city anticipates giving $1.3 million, $100,000 less than the schools requested. The anticipated allocation is about $500,000 more than the required minimum local contribution.
The district’s budget does not show actuals, which is the amount of money spent in the last year. It does show the 2019 budget and the estimated 2020 budget.
“How did this school board pass a budget without all this information that was being provided,” said Assembly Member David Powell. “Because if they were provided that information why aren’t we being provided that information? If they weren’t provided that information, I can’t figure out how they passed that budget.”
Mayor Steve Prysunka questioned how much money the city could give in good faith, if it doesn’t have an understanding of the schools’ spending. He says the assembly has been asking for these numbers since the district submitted its budget at the beginning of the month.
The city’s concerns doesn’t mean it wants to slash education funds.
“I hear your frustration, and I wish we had more information also,” said Assembly Member Patti Gilbert. “But cutting it any more than a $100,000 would be punitive.”
Assembly Member Julie Decker gave the district some slack, saying previous school budgets weren’t any more informative. She thanks the district for stepping it up , even if just a bit, this year.
The assembly will have a special meeting to take up the issue again on Friday. The district says it will work on providing those actuals, but won’t make that a promise.