Monday, December 22, 2008

DISD Budget Crisis

What is most amazing about the budget crisis is that we now know that the slide started in 2005-under Dr. Hinojosa's watch-but all we hear from the auditors is about the unbudgeted teachers and poor accounting. We still have not been given a detail report on where the money went. Did the district give departments higher budgets or did departments overspend their budget? Was purchasing of goods and services increased? Did maintenance cost go up? Was there also an increase in non teaching jobs? Did the under $50,000 contracts go up (those are the contracts that the board do no approve)? How much in mis-managed federal grants, and how much did the district have to return to the federal government? Did Dr. Hinojosa's Executive team salaries increase from the previous superintendent? Did administrative cost increase?

At the last board meeting when discussions came up over the district paying 116 teachers $397,00 in bonuses that they had earned out of general funds the board had questions. The reason that the bonuses had not been paid was that some principals had not followed the federal guidelines for payment. The trustees had some concern over which line item in the budget the money would come out of. The board was told that the money would come from a line item that was for utilities and stipends. That really did not make any sense. Finally it was agreed that the money would come out of the budgets of the Executive Team and board. I wonder if the budget process is fixed? Why would stipends and utilities be together in the budget? Utilities are operational and stipends are salary related.

We also hear that the fund balance is down from $120 million dollars to $20 million dollars in a short three year period. Just a couple of months ago we were told that because of the 2007-2008 budget shortfall that the fund balance would be at $60 million dollars. What is going on? What happened to that additional $40 million dollars in just a couple of months? Where is the board in all of this, and where are those business executives who have just declared that Dallas most pay more money to the people that they hire in the financial area? I think that currently for 3 positions in accounting they are paying over $500,000 (half a million) in salaries and that does not include benefits. Maybe they think that taxpayers money should be spent the same way that the banking industry's bailout money is spent on private jets,large bonuses, stock option and contract buyouts at the taxpayers expense. If the corporate executives are so concerned, why don't they try helping Dallas ISD by allowing some of their top financial executives to be executives on loan to Dallas ISD?

Why can't we spend money on quality teachers and give our children the best chance for learning ?


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