It's hard to decide which one I'm looking forward to the least -- my next budget committee meeting or my next root canal. Which one can I get a Valium for?
In essence, our district gets a "paycheck" from the state to run our schools. The amount of the check depends on how many students are enrolled. 80% of this paycheck is tied up in employee wages and benefits. That leaves the remaining 20% to fight over. Over the last few years the paycheck has been good. But now... Due to declining enrollment, there is a monetary shortfall of about $900,000.
Fighting about money is always so unpleasant. I think those have been the worst "discussions" of our marriage. Just even thinking about it all makes me queasy. Now just imagine financial "discussions" in front of an audience full of opinions. Welcome to the school district budget meeting.
I didn't say much at the last meeting. Honestly, I wasn't prepared to say much. More honestly, I wasn't prepared. The budget book had arrived a couple of days before the meeting and I just didn't have the time to give it due diligence. Oh sure, I browsed through it but that doesn't count as preparation. And if ye are not prepared, ye shall not speak up. Especially when speaking up about limited financial resources.
How money should be spent can be a terribly hot topic. Two weeks ago there were raised voices, quick exits, logical demands, and emotion everywhere. I appreciate the passion, but in the end there just isn't enough money.
Monetary shortfall. Limited financial resources. Making ends meet. Pinching pennies. Wanting a fistful of dollars. So how are we gonna work this budget out for our students' best success? Shrug. I don't know. Stay tuned...