Candidate Interview (Part 2 of 5) Budgets

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Recently I was interviewed and asked to share my policy positions by the Corona Norco Teachers Association CNTA, Press Enterprise reporter Dayna Strahley, Realtors Board, and Corona – Norco Pro Family Council. Following are excerpts to help you understand my approach to School Board governance and policy.

Explain your method of balancing and controlling the fiscal budget.

The method begins with identifying funding sources: local, state and federal, and preparing our budgets based on realistic funding algorithms. This “live within our means” approach is the only method that can produce a balanced budget and avoid deficit spending.

The District’s budget priorities are not evident, nor widely shared. We are absent of a 3-5 year plan. In recent years, while revenues were growing in our rapidly expanding district, budgeting was fairly easy.
We are entering a new season where every dollar spent matters. We must develop plans based on the changing requirements of student proficiencies (including vocational) brought about by both the state of California and the marketplace. We must prepare greater numbers of our students to continue on into college. In addition, we must make wise decisions about programmatic funding sources.

The development of a strategic plan is overdue and necessary. The key leader participants would include: Superintendents, Principals, School Board, The Teachers Association. This “rolling” 3-year plan would need to be revisitied and updated annually at a leaders retreat.

The Employee Associations are interested in certain bargaining issues. What is your position regarding:

a. Salary
It is unwise to pay teachers and administrators too much. It is worse to pay too little. The District must recognize the benefit of retaining qualified, motivated, inspired employees while avoiding the costly process of retraining. At the same time, we must remain within a balance budget.

b. Fringe Benefits
I do not like the term Fringe Benefits. It seems to indicate that benefits are on the edge of a compensation package, when in fact, they are very much at the center of a compensation package. We should offer our employees benefits that make sense and are commensurate with the industry and local or regional benchmarks. I do not agree with exorbinant retirement or “golden parachute” deals, discretionary slush funds, or non-reviewed personal expense accounts. The key is transparency.

c. Support personnel (contractors, vendors, etc.)
We should often analyze the cost – benefit relationship of hiring versus outsourcing.

d. Materials and Supplies
I do not want teachers spending their own money to supply their classrooms. It is noble, but reflects a lack of budgetary planning. I will challenge Principals to be attentive to the needs of teachers. I do believe we need to embrace electronic reader technology, computing, video presentation capability as well as electronic recordkeeping.

How will you handle community growth?

Currently we are in a slower phase of growth – adding roughly 800 to 1000 students per year, primarily in the Eastvale area. The issues then are to maintain effective class size, commute time for parents, and balance the cost to build new schools. The key to growing gracefully is planning. I will be involved with our district planning personnel.

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