With all the work I’ve done to better understand how and where we spend money in Amherst School District, it was time to do something with it and press for some changes. My intention is to refocus the budgeting process before it happens, rather than respond to it once it comes out. I’m hoping the proactive approach is the more effective one. That in mind, I summarized my budget evaluation (which I’ve done in bits and pieces here) and questions/recommendations in some slides and met on Wednesday (7/17/13) with the Superintendent (Peter Warburton), the Business Administrator (Betty Shankel), and the ASD School Board Chair (Peg Bennett) to review them.
It was a good meeting, the contents were well received, and once they have fully digested them, we will meet again with a larger group to review them and their responses to the questions and recommendations. I think I got my point across that I was there for a cooperative meeting and that I wanted to drive the discussion on where W&M sees issues that need to be addressed earlier in the process than has been typical. We are supposed to be the check/balance in this process and the points made were, I think, well received (we were encouraged to push them on spending issues). I openly invited them to suggest other metrics to judge value if they feel I have selected incorrect ones (mostly because last year’s W&M committee meetings did not produce any metrics I was looking for). And in general, that if they feel that the numbers for certain spending areas are justified (special education and teaching coaches come to mind) in how they deviate from state averages or other town numbers, that the case needs to be made for them.
These are the slides. I talked over them quite a bit in the meeting, but hopefully the messages are clear.