PWCS, You’re Welcome

As a member of the Gainesville / Brentsville district budget advisory committee, I, and my fellow committee members, spent an inordinate amount of time over the past 2 years examining PWCS’ budget. Our analysis showed that there were significant savings that could be found in the PWCS budget.  We even took the time to document those savings and shared them here and with anyone who cared to listen.

This year Gil Trenum and Alyson Satterwhite, with the support of Lisa Bell, proposed several adjustments to the PWCS budget that would have provided for additional reductions in class sizes.  Their suggestions fell flat.  The adjustments proposed were characterized as draconian and concern was expressed that they could undermine the school division’s financial stability.  We budget committee members were just too naive and ill informed to understand the complexity involved in the PWCS budget.

I fully expect to receive a Thank you Note from PWCS in the next few days.

Those of you who watched the last school board meeting of the year last night (June 18) noticed that the school division was able to adjust the 2014 – 2015 budget to absorb $6.9 million less than expected from the state and county, combined, without making any cuts.  The adjustments they made, increasing Other Revenues, reducing the planned fluff in teacher salaries, and reducing budgeted utility costs to better reflect actuals, were all changes the budget advisory committee had recommended.  You know, the adjustments that were characterized as draconian and potentially undermining to the school division’s financial stability.  You know, the ones were simpletons were too ill informed to understand.

You’re welcome, PWCS.  I like chocolate covered strawberries and sunflowers, in case you were wondering.



8 Responses to “PWCS, You’re Welcome”

  1. Bob Weir Says:

    My taste runs more toward single malt scotch (fittingly a “World Class” spirit).

  2. pwceducationreform Says:

    Better watch it, Mr Weir! I might make you consume one of my girly drinks!

  3. Elizabeth Smith Says:

    What do you mean by “planned ‘fluff’ in teacher salaries?”

    • pwceducationreform Says:

      I’m so glad someone asked about that! Thank you!

      Every year PWCS has a rather large savings, called “Slippage in Compensation”, that they report. In the 2nd quarter budget update this year, that slippage was $10.4 million. The year before the slippage reported at the 2nd quarter budget update was $6.1 million. For the 3 school years before that it ranged from $3.6 – $3.8 million (and that was in the years where PWCS said we were lucky to avoid a layoff). {if you go to the page titled PWCS Finances, the image on that page is the 2nd quarter budget update from this school year. The 3rd line down is the “Slippage in Compensation”}

      At $100,000 a year for salaries and benefits, $10 million in savings is 100 positions. Imagine using half of that and hiring 50 more teachers.

      There’s some padding in the compensation budget – what I called “planned fluff”. It’s like doing your family budget and knowingly budgeting more than you’ll need for your gas bill. You know you aren’t likely to need it, but it’s available if you need it and if you don’t, well than that’s a new pair of shoes.

      Padding isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you want to have some extra in case you need to hire additional staff or a bad flu goes around and medical expenses are higher than expected. However, that padding can sometimes be a bit excessive – $10.4 million is probably a bit too much padding.

      So PWCS has reduced the padding by about a million or so from previous estimates to provide a portion of the $6.9 million needed. This won’t affect compensation one penny – they’ve just reduced the padding that they knowingly put into the compensation budget.

      Next year the excess called “Slippage in Compensation” will hopefully be more in the $3 million range, instead of the $10 million range.

      • Elizabeth Smith Says:

        Got it. Thanks! Maybe it should be phrased differently? I read it as they’re going to cut the meager and undeserved planned pay increase, but I know you support competitive salaries for our teachers, so that’s why I asked.

  4. pwceducationreform Says:

    Salary increases for our teachers aren’t fluff. They’re necessary and vital and finding money to provide them was one of the committees primary objectives. 🙂

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