The 2012 Rockford School Budget Committee should have at least two board members on it
In today’s Insight, (Our views: Opinions of the Editorial Board), the editorial board’s opinion is that taxpayers are tapped out; unions must give to help with the Rockford School District’s budget. The budget for 2011 is $404M dollars of which 75% or $303M is salaries and benefits and the budget has $41.3M in deficit spending. So the unions have to give. They are the overwhelming majority of the budget and 95% of the Education Fund.
The $404M divided by the 29,600 students, results in a cost of $13,650 per student!
On Wednesday August 3, it was reported that the school district was considering ways to reduce the $41M deficit that they had projected for the 2011 budget and that a 2012 budget committee was being formed by Superintendent LaVonne Sheffield.
Planning is already in progress for the 2012 budget. The district is forming a committee with members of Superintendent LaVonne Sheffield’s Cabinet and eight community members to work on balancing the 2012 budget. The committee met last week for the first time and plans to meet again Aug. 18.
The budget expenditures have increased by 6.8% since last year, or $25M and $67M over the last two years. These expenditures are also causing the deficits, not just the economy. However, to lower the deficit in 2011 and to rebalance the budget in 2012, where are the members of the school board, duly elected by the people in the district, on budget committees that are being formed by the district?
The Joint Task Force on Governmental Efficiency, a committee appointed by the mayor and the county chairman, and which I am a member, has two board members from the county, two alderman from the city, because it is they who will ultimately vote on the recommendations of the Task Force. These people are elected to the respective government bodies and are part of the process in deciding on recommendations. Same for the venues committee, and Rockford’s ad-hoc financial committee, etc.
Why is the school district forming a committee to decide where to cut the budget and our elected representatives are nowhere to be seen? How does an appointed committee have authority to even decide which recomendations to make to the board, without our representatives being a part of that process. Cabinet members and community members, not elected by us, would be narrowing down the items that would be eventually be voted on by the board. What if the board would have chosen different items for the final cuts?
The board should not be bypassed in how our taxes are to be spent. If all the board votes on are the recommendations of a totally appointed committee, the representative process is flawed, and our tax dollars will be indirectly allocated by nonelected appointees!
Taxpayers should call the district and request that our elected board be present in all budget reduction processes, including ad-hoc committees.