If I read the story correctly,
- $18M is from fewer taxes collected in FY08 than expected
- $49M is from a lower than anticipated fund balance for FY08. Fund balance is leftover money at the end of the year, right? So basically, the current Board spent $49M of the new Board's money.
- $53M is due to lower property values, meaning that if you & I pay the same taxes we paid last year, this much goes away.
Still, a reasonable person would ask "What is the cost of inflation and enrollment increases alone?" Supervisor Jim Burton put this very question on the table, and the LCPS budget staff provided a response.
|FY08 Cost Per Pupil: $12,751|
CPI (BLS Oct 2007): 3.00%
CPP increased based on CPI: $13,134
Projected enrollment increase: $3,270
FY09 increase due to CPI and Enrollment: $42,950,000
A reasonable person would then ask "Why does LCPS have an increase so much higher than the rate of inflation?" Here's why:
- This number assumes that our employees will make no more next year then they did last year... no increases for seniority and additional experience, even just the cost of inflation. I know that at my job I'm hoping for a raise this year, and a raise that outpaces inflation. So do our teachers, bus drivers, coaches and custodians.
- The price of everything doesn't increase equally. The CPI does not include the cost of fuel or health insurance which both increase dramatically more than 3% per year and make up a significant part of our non-salary budget.
- We will open three new schools in FY09. It costs more to open a new school than it does to operate an existing one. New textbooks and supplies, principals and maintenance folks operating for six months before the school opens, increased maintenance costs as the building grounds are settled in to service, the expense of inprocessing 3,270 new students... these all add up to much more than the cost of an existing school and a total of $3.2M for LCPS in FY09.
- Need for services grow at different rates. For instance, there is strong growth this year in the number of ESL students, who require more teachers per pupil and therefore disproportionately affect the budget. The cost for special education increases annually at a rate that outpaces the general population as well.
- Past needs were put off and need to be caught up. For instance, in the FY08 budget we cut the number of schools getting new computers by half. To make up for this, the FY09 budget has a 50% higher cost to purchase new computers in order to play catch up. Similarly, in order to come under the FY08 budget several new administrative positions were unfilled for the first half of the year. Therefore their salaries only counted for half of the FY08 budget but will count fully for FY09 budget.
In upcoming posts I'll look at the history of LCPS enrollment, staffing and budget increases in more detail.
If you're really ambitious, you can download the full proposed budget here.