Bad math on school is­sue

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Opinion - James Locker Stam­ford

To the edi­tor,

The Stam­ford Ad­vo­cate’s front page re­port on May 1 — “Staff short­age is­sue wors­ens” — is very trou­bling. There seems to be an alarm­ing lack of con­trol/over­sight on school cus­to­dial spend­ing. The ar­ti­cle sug­gests that the seven open cus­to­dial po­si­tions have caused $2 mil­lion of over­spend­ing.

If we use $65,000 per po­si­tion ($25 per hour plus ben­e­fits) the seven un­filled cus­to­dian po­si­tions come to un­der $500,000 (pre­sum­ably this was bud­geted). So what ex­plains the $2 mil­lion over­spend­ing so far?

The conventional wis­dom (which needs to be re-ex­am­ined) is that the school board su­per­vises only one em­ployee — the su­per­in­ten­dent. Given the scope of this bud­get de­vi­a­tion, the board needs to reach out with Su­per­in­ten­dent Earl Kim to de­ter­mine the root causes for th­ese ex­ces­sive out­lays. It is im­per­a­tive that they un­der­stand how the prob­lem of over­spend­ing can be ad­dressed in the up­com­ing fis­cal year.

More­over, as­sum­ing that added funds will be re­quested, I ex­pect that the city boards — fi­nance and rep­re­sen­ta­tives — will in­sist on that anal­y­sis and, if need be, a re­vised bud­get should then be sub­mit­ted. This is con­sis­tent with cross-party skep­ti­cism in var­i­ous ar­eas of re­cently pro­posed city ex­pen­di­tures.

To the board, please don’t sim­ply ac­cept the easy ra­tionale of ag­ing fa­cil­i­ties. If, in fact, that proves to be the cause af­ter de­tailed anal­y­sis, why didn’t Kim pro­pose higher spend­ing in next year’s bud­get (or this year’s bud­get)? Be­cause $2 mil­lion is not triv­ial, it’s al­most 1 per­cent of the en­tire school bud­get. Surely th­ese funds could be bet­ter devoted to stu­dent ed­u­ca­tion.

The tax­pay­ers of Stam­ford await a re­sponse from the school board and su­per­in­ten­dent.

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