Valid email addresses are required to post comments. If your comment is not posted, I will send you an email with an explanation.

Monday, February 7, 2011

In The Gutter

What do the recent state budget proposals and state mandates have in common with the unusual weather we have been  experiencing this winter?

I realize these two points appear to be totally unrelated, but I thought of both of them yesterday afternoon and evening while working hard to try to free the ice from the gutters of my house.

The large amounts of snow piled high on roofs everywhere in the area (and contributing to roof collapses of houses and barns) was reduced to some degree yesterday by temperatures that finally rose above freezing. The snow melt dripped down the roof and onto the ice that was already filling up the gutters. As the snow melted and then froze again in this interesting snow, melt, freeze pattern over the course of the winter, the ice worked its way above the gutters and into the area beneath the roof shingles. The force of nature is amazing as anyone who has witnessed a natural disaster can attest. Who would imagine that the ice could eventually separate the shingles and then, tucked away beneath the shingles, melt on a warm day like yesterday? Well it did. That would account for the water dribbling down an interior wall of my house (and maybe the house of more than one reader of this Blog).

Okay, beyond ranting about the throes of winter weather in upstate New York, how does this merit any attention in a Blog on education? Mandates and policies can also pile up and eventually overflow their containers (organizations confined or guided by policy mandates) and subsequently show up in places you wouldn't expect, causing damage you don't want.

We are attempting to construct our school district's annual operating budget in preparation for a community-wide budget vote mandated by the state to occur on a specific Tuesday in May. I use the word attempting because you can't simply develop a budget overnight. This budget, by the way, must project out as far in the future as June 30th 2012 (the last day of the next, upcoming fiscal school year). That requires us to estimate what prices will be like nearly 15 months from now regarding the cost of utilities (gas, oil, electricity) transportation contracts, paper goods... and anticipate potential problems like a boiler requiring repair, a leak in the school roof, and other possibilities. Not only is this process difficult, but we may not even know what the status is of the state budget (and the state's contribution level to school aid) at the time we present the budget for a vote by Green Island residents!

The Governor has released his proposal for state financial aid to schools. These figures are preliminary and must be reconciled through negotiations involving the state senate and assembly (and lobbyists). It's not likely that the figures we have been given at this point in time will be the same figures when all is said and done. The Governor also commissioned a group to identify current state mandates that are unnecessary and therefore subject to modification or elimination. That could help by offering some budget relief. Also, the Governor has proposed a $250,000,000 competitive grant entitled "The Administrative Efficiency Grant" (although I have not seen any explanation of the parameters of this grant) This too, may provide some budget relief. And, as I said earlier, since we may not even have final figures when we vote in May we must prepare out budget while operating under several different and possible scenarios.

In other words, policies and mandates have piled up layer upon layer to the point that the excess may force its way into whatever spot they can find - and possibly cause damage to the structure.

No comments:

Post a Comment