The EMID board this evening approved a 10% budget cut to the district. 10% was the lowest cut the board considered, they also looked at 15% and 20% cuts. This cut will have to be taken out of our schools, administration, and other programs with the exception of the $700,000 “shared services” fund. Working out the details of what, exactly, a 10% cut means is now in the hands of the EMID administration, which will invite community input through the “Community Council” meetings coming up on 2/4 and 3/3.
However, the budget the board approved would also, as board member John Brodrick put it, “kill the schools after two years.” This is because the budget keeps the cuts low by eating deeply into the EMID operating reserves, money the school needs just to keep its doors open during the course of a normal year. As approved in this budget, this reserve will dip to $900,000 by the end of next year and would disappear altogether before the following year ends.
Brodrick, Kitty Gogins, Jim Gelbmann, and three other members of the board passed an amendment to the budget that tried to address this sustainability issue. The amendment asked board members to discuss the possibility of sending a portion of the levy dollars each student generates to EMID. Finance officer Shari Thompson estimated that 100% of the levy dollars would generate about $1 million per year, so it will be very interesting to see what portion, if any, districts are willing to send to EMID.
Thompson pointed out that until 2008 EMID members did forward all levy funds with the students to EMID schools. In 2008 the board swapped levy funds for more integration funding, but the board always retained the option and the power to collect levy funding from the member districts. Ironically, if a student went to a charter school or a private school, or to any school outside their own district, then the district would loose access to their levy funds anyway since the student would be leaving the district. It is only the fact that EMID is considered part of member districts that allows them to generate levy funds from EMID students in the first place. Yet the districts seem loath to actually allow the students to bring those funds to EMID.
A dozen parents testified to the board this evening, sharing their passion for a sustainable solution and asking the board to work with parents to navigate these difficult times. Many complained of the lack of openness from the board, and Interim Superintendent Robicheau did say he would consider ways to allow open conduct of some board activities.