Below is a letter to the FCCPS School Board written and submitted by Alison Kutchma and recorded as public record. To date, the questions have not been answered.
Members of the School Board:
I just wanted to put in writing my comments made to you at the August 30th School Board meeting. I also want to clarify some of the numbers I quoted and make sure you understand my concerns.
My concern about the following document, concerning Roles and Responsibilities of the School Board, are that it contains no language speaking to financial oversight and management of how our Superintendent spends or manages the money we provide. I think this is direly needed.
The link to the document to which I refer is here:
I ask you to consider the following:
- There was no mention last year of the justification for the $65,000 generator that sits unused in the Mt. Daniel parking lot, while principals were asked to justify $28,000 in copies that their building staff makes to serve students. Why was this generator not part of the design build contract? Why did we need this? Why couldn’t we rent this? I believe this would be a useful school board agenda item to discuss. I believe the board needs to address and discuss publicly many facets of the Grunley contract and billing process before moving forward with other new construction. I would be happy to help you identify those.
- Bill Royce and I brought to your attention the overage in the FY14-15 School Year budget at a recent meeting. Mr. Royce’s research uncovered that Dr. Jones requested from the city council funding needed for 172 new students, most of whom never enrolled. The money appropriated was, within days, moved out of instruction to other accounts so Dr. Jones had to know that these students were in fact not coming. It appears that this purposeful misrepresentation was used as a “justification” or ruse to extract more money for the schools. Enrollment numbers documented on the school website indicate that fall, on 9/30/2014, that there were 2455 students enrolled – not the 2593 “projected.” The community funded those 138 students that did not arrive. We are still funding them. This padding of phantom students has been rolled into the continued baseline of spending and was never returned to the community. Please ask Dr. Jones to explain these actions to the community.
- The contingency on the Grunley contract was budgeted at $77,778. It has already been over billed by $88,173 for a total of $165,951.00. I have not heard that discussed at any board meeting. How are you informed of these details and what was this for? Please ask Dr. Toni Jones to explain this over billing in a public meeting and help me understand why this sort of spending is not presented to the School Board by Dr. Jones when Principals are, again, required to spend their time justifying the copies they run off to the collective tune of $28,000.
And finally, I add a 4th concern that I did not mention at the meeting.
4. As highly paid senior staff depart (reportedly roughly over a million dollars in staff left TJ alone last year), who keeps track of the extra money in the instructional staff line items that exists when these senior staff members are replaced with much less expensive staff? For example at least 6 senior staff left TJ last year (I have not included Bob Palermo) and they have mostly likely been replaced with young teachers and administrators that make far less for an estimated savings of perhaps $100,000 or more. Where does that money go; do we keep track of this; and why can’t that fund the extra position sought by the school board and needed for our students? Why are these funds not acknowledged and reflected in the budget as cost savings? Can the funding allocations be shared with the community more transparently and added up for us to see?
I believe far more transparency in the budget is required as well as is school board oversight and management of spending. Only the board can ask for this on the community’s behalf. I am asking you to do so.
Thank you in advance for your attention to these matters.