- Editor's Note: This is a portion of a statement made by Geneva resident Sandra Ellis at a recent Geneva School Board meeting. It is submitted here as a letter to the editor at Geneva Patch.
District 304 property taxpayers are burdened with paying off a heavy but legally binding bond indebtedness to build additional facilities. The actual change in enrollment did not justify construction of new facilities. Incurring that level of debt was a serious mistake.
The Board of Education was elected to serve as the taxpayers' representative. The board must insure their management of the School District does not impose an "eviction-by-property-tax" condition on the community, particularly those on fixed incomes.
As the process of adopting a new budget begins, the board must find ways to offset the cost of the mistake when budgeting variable expenses for the upcoming fiscal years. It’s a matter of fairness.
An examination of district financial information shows a significant offset may be accomplished—without detracting from the basic education program—by addressing the unreasonably sharp increase in expenditures for certificated staff services during the past five years (FY ending 2008 to FY ending 2012.)
Over that brief period of time, budgeted expenditures for basic instructional services have increased by more than 20 percent; budgeted expenditures for instructional support services have increased by more than 25 percent.
Over the same period of time, the student enrollment has remained virtually unchanged.
The rate of inflation has been less than 4 percent over the entire five year period (less than 1 percent per year.) It follows that paring instruction/education support expenditures to actual district needs would be an effective but also fair way to offset the indebtedness without impairing the overall educational services that must be provided.
Certainly, no one can argue convincingly that the program offered during the 2007-08 school year was inadequate. In other words, adopting a budget for 2012-13 which is in line with that earlier budget would maintain a high quality education program but would also offset the bond-indebtedness mistake and satisfy the board's responsibilities to all concerned. I have prepared a chart to show this information.
Instruction budget (000 omitted)
CPI change 2007- 2011
3.8% less healthcare