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Budget Mistakes Lead to Large Deficit for Schools

Tim McGonegal sent a memo to the School Board about the deficit on the same day he announced his resignation.

On the same day Superintendent Tim McGonegal , he informed the School Board in a memo that the district faces a $3 million deficit.

After months of optimism about the schools budget, so much so that the board had considered a pay raise for teachers, the district must now consider a hiring freeze and possible scaling back teacher raises.

What led to the unexpected budget gap?

In his memo to board members, McGonegal said:

In total, teacher salaries and benefits were $6.7 million over budget in 2011-12.

In addition, his memo said the district had neglected to budget $700,000 for text books and another $480,000 for teachers at the district's virtual schools.

McGonegal then laid out a plan for getting the budget under control, according to the memo. Some of those measures go beyond a hiring freeze and include combining classes where possible and increasing class size to the maxiumum alowed under the state constitution.

McGonegal told the Herald-Tribune that the plan, which is designed to save $5.7 million, must be approved by the state.

McGonegal is preparing to leave as the plan goes into effect. The School Board plans to call on a to help decide what qualifications they want in a new superintendent.

Citizens will have a lot to consider as they help set the direction for the schools. The mistakes in financial planning took place during 2011 planning, when in-fighting on the School Board prompted questions about the budget and some last minute restructuring around finances.

Jim Drake, who has since retired, was leading the finance department at the time.

In that same time, the school district did poorly on the state's standardized testing. Since then its director of curriculum and instruction has retired.

The community and the school board will have an opportunty in the next six months to reshape and redirect the district's leadership and to set new priorities. Both a new finance director and new director of instruction and curriculum are in place.

The School Board still needs to decide the structure of the district's legal department and who will take the helm to clean up the problems the district now faces.

Read McGonegal's complete memo in the attached PDF.

Steve September 11, 2012 at 01:20 PM
McGonegal should be investigated by the State. Wrongdoing is blatantly obvious.
leonard aldridge September 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM
How bout they eliminate some of the dead wood in the administration building. Obviously they are incompetent or just don't care.

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