Yesterday was the first day of commissioner budget deliberations. Lots of statements, but no decisions on school system funding. However, the prevailing thoughts seem to be that even if they could fund the school system at its request this year (and that is a big if), the out year requests are just not reasonable.
We think that the commissioners believing an organization with 80% of its budget going to employee salary and benefits can keep a flat budget for the next five years while giving employees raises each year is just as unreasonable as they consider the board’s request for increasing funding. Even cutting employees, as Commissioner Rothschild stated would be required, and closing schools, as Commissioner Howard said would be required, won’t make the numbers work.
On the other hand, undoing the tax cuts will not be enough either. Like school closings, it is a permanent change, but can only happen one time. Raises, on the other hand, happen every year. We can’t close schools to give raises each year, nor can we raise taxes.
The school system’s total budget today is lower than it was six years ago. It has done that mainly by not giving employees raises each year. Nothing we heard yesterday leads us to believe anything is going to change.