NORWALK, Conn. — TheDailyNorwalk.com accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the Editor,
I am shocked and dismayed by a sudden $4 million swing into the red (from being in the black at the close of 2010/2011) by the school budget. How can a budget swing $4 million in the red suddenly a month before the school year ends?
There is clearly a very broken system, a complete lack of accountability and no checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the system is working. A few points/suggestions worth noting:
- If you are barely able to get the budget into the black the previous year, wouldn't one implement cautious spending practices for the upcoming year?
- There is mention of "overzealousness in filling of some positions." There needs to be a huge amount of "overzealous behavior" to equal a swing of $4 million for fringe benefits for a few additional staff members. It has to be a much bigger problem.
- If we know we have a poor accounting system for our schools, why in the world wouldn't someone choose to fix it?
- Why has there been so much turnover for some of the leadership financial positions within the school board year on year? Red flag.
- If we are making budget decisions, aren't those making the spending decisions also to be questioned if they know there is a question of the data integrity?
- If you know the system was flawed, wouldn't the school board put additional checks and balances into the budget to avoid a potential crisis?
- Don't we audit our school board's spending thru 3rd party auditors? What do those audits say? Do these numbers actually make sense?
- How do we know it is really $4 million if our accounting system is so flawed? Is this information really reliable? We all know that "garbage in is garbage out."
Some proposed action items:
- Immediately bring in a third party to investigate the accounting system and practices. The superintendent and board should welcome an objective set of eyes on the books. The mayor should insist it happen immediately.
- Establish some checks and balances to prevent dramatic swings such as this situation.
- Invest in a state of the art financial system. The cost is minimal relative to the control and accountability it would give to our city as we move forward in future school years.
Hold those who have failed our students, teachers and city accountable. Our teachers, administrators and students deserve more from the superintendent and BOE.
The superintendent and school board are both accountable. While it is easy to play the blame game, part of the responsibility in taking on those roles is the accountability of the decision making that goes with it.
If this were a "for profit" company, employees would be immediately "fired" or "suspended" for poor performance and failed leadership. If this were a losing sports team, we would fire the old coach and bring in a new coach with fresh thinking. Perhaps we should implement some "for profit" thinking to help fix this problem once and for all.
If you would like to stay connected to the issues you can also come together via a Facebook group that you can find here.