Comments Made Regarding Superintendent's Tiered Spending Reductions
Board Member McMahon, February 14, 2006 BOE Meeting
Since assuming office in 2003, this is third time we as a Board have received Superintendent recommendations for reducing spending. In 2003, a state structural deficit of over $20 billion led to a rollback of a 2% COLA and no increase in state funding for the following year. Even after making $1.7 million in spending reductions, AUSD began deficit spending. Last year, declining enrollment and fiscal solvency requirements led to the Superintendent proposing over $2 million in spending reductions. The Board decided not follow the Superintendent recommendation and only approved $1.6 million of spending reductions and submitted a “qualifed” interim statement to County Office of Education. Fortunately, Alameda citizens passed the renewal of the parcel tax, adding an additional $1 million to our reserves. AUSD finances were back in order, pending the outcome of resolution of 05/06 contract language regarding salary increases. Then this budget year a decline of another 150 students has led to recommendations before us tonight.
Over the past five years, AUSD has lost over 500 students resulting in losses of $2.5 million of ongoing annual revenues. Unless we address this issue, we will be going through this process every year. I am concerned some cuts we have made in prior years are in fact contributing to the decline in student enrollment. I believe we need to evaluate these recommendations not only on the immediate fiscal impact but on the long term effect on student population. Ultimately, we need to find a way to encourage the growth of innovative programs that will attract and retain students, parents and staff.
At this point, you may be thinking: “How does this impact the immediate challenge facing us?” I would offer the following:
While hope is not a strategy, I have faith that if we focus our creative energies on enhancing parental choice and providing professional development, we can make AUSD more attractive and end the declining enrollment trend in Alameda.
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