Happy New Year! Happy Trails, Steve!

Today, July 1, is the first day of the school district’s 2010-2011 fiscal year.  Any pencils or erasers that were purchased yesterday are expenses listed in the books for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.  Paperclips purchased today go on the books for the 2010-2011 year.

 Now that the accounting books closed at midnight, we’ll find out whether we operated in the black or red for the year, and the outcome will determine whether our fund equity will increase or decrease.  Last month, our district budget folks delivered the welcome news that they were projecting we’d have a positive addition to the general fund equity for the year of about $1.1 million. We won’t know the actual results until all the accounting work has been done.

 If we do show an addition to the surplus I hope we resist the temptation to rely on that new pot of money to amend the preliminary budget we recently passed in order to reduce our tax levy for the coming year.  I’m all for keeping our taxes down, but I think we have to take a multi-year perspective.  I am particularly concerned about our budget for next year, and by next year we are now talking about 2011-2012.  This is the year we’ll be starting 4-year-old kindergarten, which we know will have a significant start-up cost for us (in the neighborhood of $8 million for the first year).  My preference is to go easy on tapping into our surplus for this upcoming year and preserve our resources for when we’re likely to need them more, in our budget for 2011-2012. 

 Today is also the day the district first starts making do without Steve Hartley, who’s enjoying his first day or retirement.  Steve served as chief of staff for the past few years, capping a long career that included service as a school psychologist and principal at Shabazz.  He helped provide a very useful bridge between the Art Rainwater and Dan Nerad administrations.  I enjoyed working with Steve, who was unfailingly pleasant and helpful.  He staffed the planning and development committee that Marj Passman and I co-chaired this past year, and I always found our monthly meetings to be useful and informative.  I recently mentioned to Steve that even though he’ll be retired, he will still be free to attend all of our school board meetings.  He said maybe he’d catch ’em on TV, though I did not detect much enthusiasm in his response.

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