Something’s Fishy, or I’m Crazy

In the continuing saga of school closings in Hickman Mills, there will be a board meeting tonight to hear the superintendent’s recommendations. Probably not many people are aware of the meeting. At last week’s board meeting it was stated that a decision will be made this Thursday at the regular meeting, but nothing was said about tonight’s meeting. Are they trying to keep the public in the dark?

If you go to the district website, which can prove difficult to navigate, you can find tonight’s meeting listed. A perusal of the agenda will take you to a PowerPoint the superintendent apparently intends to make, but there’s something fishy about it. If you look at the budgets for this year and the next three, you’ll find the bottom line is about $2.5M short. Why would that be? Have the board members actually checked the figures or are they taking someone’s word?

Further, the preliminary budget the board approved on June 21, 2018 for the 2018-2019 school year shows a beginning fund balance of $9,844,549.43 and an ending balance of $10,785,563.79. The Superintendent’s proposal, however, begins what is budgeted for 2018-2019 with only $6,552,460.45 and ends with $7,720,007.64. Perhaps that difference has to do with the amount the school district lost with the discrepancy in Cerner’s taxes; but if you take a closer look at the 3 year budget projections shown to the board at that June meeting, those numbers don’t seem to add up either.

Not being an accountant, or even finding large numbers to be especially friendly, I can end up thinking I’m going insane as I add and subtract such large figures; so that could be one explanation for what I believe to be discrepancies. I also tend to the paranoid side, so another explanation could be that someone is trying to hide something. Right now I’m leaning toward the latter.

The board’s goal is to cut $5.5M. The $2.5M missing in the superintendent’s proposal is almost half way there, so maybe three schools don’t need to be closed. One has to wonder if the superintendent is more concerned with what is best for the children she’s responsible for and for the community, or having large fund balances. There simply has to be more to this story and it’s not being shared with the public and possibly/probably not the board of education.