Got a comment today from reader Ed Sampson about the story I wrote on South Kitsap School District’s budget.
The paragraph he cited was :
“Around 18 percent would come earmarked for “public safety and other government uses” and could be used for construction and renovation projects, such as the replacement of the Orchard Heights Elementary roof.
District officials had planned to pay for the $1.4 million roof project with a levy South Kitsap voters approved Feb. 3. Stimulus money would allow those funds to be used elsewhere.”
As a concerned citizen, I am at the end of my rope of any agency, be it schools, etc. of seeking funds voted by the public for at stated reason and then the funds are diverted “elsewhere” for other uses. I voted for these funds to be used for a given purpose according to the information provided to us when we voted for/against the school levy in the election. The funds being approved need to be used ONLY for that purpose. If they are used elsewhere, that boarders on illegal and un-ethical. If the funds are to be used elsewhere outside of the information supplied at the time of voting, then that action needs to be first voted for/against by the public and the levy for the school money needs to be adjusted accordingly. It is time for the public to take back control of our all our government representatives be it at the Federal, State or Local levels. Accountability is badly needed at all government levels.
I do hope to see in the future where our local level officials will also go to the Federal Recovery Stimulus web site to add in where they spent their Stimulus funds. We might even be able to see where they “diverted” some of the school levy funds to another “project”. But I will not hold my breath on that one.
I summarized Ed’s comments for school board member Kathryn Simpson and asked if she could respond to his thoughts. I picked on her because of her history of willingness to publicly jump into the fray where debates over district issues are in question. Kathryn, speaking as an individual and not representing the board, said:
Reprogramming (moving from one pot to another) of approved levy funds do not require a vote of the board. However, since the district’s budget is approved by the board, any change in revenue and expenditure would be approved by the board and the board expects to be informed and involved in such fiduciary decisions. This has been past practice and I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t be continuing practice.
As you know, SKSD formalized the levy plan in October. This was well before the “stimulus package” conceptual ideology was even remotely coming into focus. Further, education funds were amongst those being hotly debated at the tail end of formalizing the final package. Finally, the end product of these federal debates, now known as the “American Recover and Reinvestment Act” (ARRA) didn’t become law until after the February levy vote.
In fact, we won’t even be clear on what upside fiscal impact ARRA might (stressing the ‘might’) have. From what I can see, it may prove to be little more than a backfill of funding that will be taken away by the State of Washington due to the potential $10 Billion dollar deficit the State is now facing. Much discretion is being given to the States to decide whether the stimulus funds will raise funding levels (temporarily) or simply facilitate funding levels to remain somewhat constant because of the battering many state economies are facing (including Washington State) and the resultant cutbacks they may be making to education budgets.
I hope that helps adequately addresses the question and concern. My comments, of course, of those of one member of the board. I would strongly encourage anyone with questions and concerns to come to a board meeting and express their concerns to the board so that the entire board can respond and be better informed about constituent concerns.
Regards of the NW,