Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today about the effect of the Allowable Growth Threshold and, in particular, to share some views from principals about how this will affect education in their schools.
As you know from previous testimonies, I try to reach out to the field to gather “on the ground” information before I testify in front of you. Knowing that I would testify today, I have asked school principals how this has affected their budget work on their FY 17 budgets. Given that they have just back from break, and that their plates are really full, some took the opportunity to respond. I am providing you with the link below so you can read the entire compendium of comments I received from school principals.
I want to add that I realize that budgets are ultimately owned by school boards and communities. When I was principal, I learned not to take budget cutting personally, to advocate for the actual needs of our school and to follow the directions of my superintendent. I certainly don’t mean to indicate that the school principal is the only one affected here. Superintendents, school boards and other concerned and involved citizens have all worked very hard to craft school budgets that comply with the law and stay under the threshold.
But, I must tell you that this has been a most confusing and contradictory exercise. For many, crafting a school budget to meet the Allowable Growth Threshold has been a very frustrating experience. Some principals, superintendents and school boards have participated in the dismantling in one year what they have carefully developed for many years. However, to be fair, for a few school districts, particularly those who have fund balances, who have paid off their building bonds, or who have increased revenue because of enrollment increases, meeting the threshold was possible to accomplish without severe cuts in personnel or programs.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!