On the Beat in Bluffton

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Educators Budgeting Process Mostly Guesswork

I was a restaurant manager for more than a decade. I was responsible for writing an annual budget with projected revenues of more than $2 million and a staff of nearly 100 souls.
Every year I worried over the details in that budget, trying to squeeze the most bang for every buck in there; trying to meet the expectations set down by the corporation I worked for and trying to provide a stable and lucrative work environment for my employees.
It was never easy but at least I had some idea of what sort of revenue I would have to deal with for the coming year.
If only it were that way for our school administrators.

As if the process for determining school revenue weren't historically complicated enough, now the very revenue streams themselves have become fluid; school budgets have always been guesswork, but now they're throwing darts at a dartboard full of dollar amounts.
Congress is providing some stimulus money. How much? Who knows. When is it coming? Not sure of that either. All they know for sure is, it will come with strings attached and must be used in the next two years; no recurring costs for anything they do with it.
Indiana Department of Education is now responsible for doling out school money, but since state revenues are down will that impact what money schools will receive? Most likely. How will it affect them? Not sure. How much of a cut if any will they take? Not sure of that either.

Ask anyone responsible for writing a budget (determining how much money is going out) and you'll find it's nearly impossible to do so without knowing how much money you'll have coming in.
So it is for educators right now. trying to find their way through the budgeting process, in the dark, with sunglasses on while the target keeps moving around...

In the meantime teaching staffs are cut, class sizes get larger, services diminish and students find themselves with fewer and fewer educational options.

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