IL board looks toward improved budget process
October 06, 2010
MEREDITH — Inter-Lakes officials said they want to avoid a repeat of this year's conflicts and confusion in considering the district budget for next year.
Superintendent Phil McCormack said he was looking for a "very general direction" as to the feelings on this year's budget with more finite parameters later.
Board member Jack Carty had one word for next year's budget: "Less."
Board member Carol Baggaley recommended that the school district meeting be held on a different day. McCormack said that is scheduled for discussion in October and that the idea has been brought up at previous meetings.
"My initial thought is I don't think we want to go through what happened last year," said board member Dan Cunningham.
Cunningham said the process should start with a baseline of what the administrators feel is necessary.
"I'd like to start with what it is we know we absolutely want or need before the coming year," Cunningham said.
Carty said such an approach sounds similar to zero-based budgeting.
"I think we need to pay a lot of attention to the growth and demand of special education," said board member Howard Cunningham.
McCormack said the district seems to be getting more unfunded mandates from the state with the number of things that now need to be considered.
"I hope we can avoid what took place last year," said Chair Richard Hanson. "A figure comes out and I find out the consequences of that figure after the fact."
Hanson said he wanted to see "obviously a lean budget that provides us what we need to educate our students effectively."
Board member Rebecca Alosa said she wanted to draw more people to the public meetings leading up to District Meeting, saying in the beginning of this year's process fewer people attended the meetings than at the end.
"I'm hoping we get the word out and folks participate a little sooner," Alosa said.
Meredith resident Mark Billings said the board should consider going out to bid for health insurance, as a major driver of last year's cuts was a major health insurance increase. McCormack said last year's jump was an "aberration" compared to the small increases and even decreases in previous years. Carty said with changes due to health care reform, there might be more increases.
Meredith resident Chris Mega suggested that the descriptions for any proposed budget and cuts be clearer, as last year's level system was unclear and confusing. Mega said information should also include a breakdown of the cost for each person.