The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Sprinkling vs Raining: When to use the Rainy Day Fund

Someone recently asked me a question regarding my recent recommendations for future staffing and reductions-in-force (RIF).

The question was, "Why don't we utilize the school corporation's cash balance or the Rainy Day Fund? It's at least sprinkling isn't it?"

In addition to a being a great metaphor, it is also a good question.

It is true, the school corporation is in good financial shape as far as having a Rainy Day Fund reserve. The problem is that a Rainy Day Fund reserve should be used a last resort. In other words, it should be used when it is pouring and not just sprinkling. One of the problems that created the state deficit is that Indiana has been raiding THEIR Rainy Day Funds over the years to pay for programs. Now they have a problem. They cut taxes in the past, which may be a good thing, but there is a cost for that and now we are paying for it.

If we make small adjustments when we are able, we reduce the risk of having to make large RIF's later. Think of it as steering your car. Small incremental changes keep the car tracking straight. If you hold the steering wheel too tight to it's current course and do not make smaller adjustments, you will need to make a more severe change in course at the last minute to avoid a crash. In the end, this is more disruptive. Even the small changes are emotionally draining for those most affected. This is even more reason why small changes should be made whenever possible.

Wawasee has been making small adjustments over the last 5 years. These have been somewhat imperceptible to most people. This year is the largest and most visible of our personnel cuts. If we had done nothing over the last 5 years, we would be looking at changes on a very large scale this year.

While we could swallow the loss without RIFing this year, our fear is that this is may just be the beginning of issues that affect public education. Ten years ago I went to every school in our district and talked about the future of public education and the impact of privatization, vouchers, and tax credits on public schools. The time has come.

We may not see the effects of these issues in a dramatic way here in Wawasee immediately, but I guarantee you that the state fiscal impact of vouchers, tax credits and privatization will impact our schools.

This explains why I feel we should protect the Rainy Day Fund a little longer.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your candor when discussing these financial issues. However, when will you discuss why Wawasee has two administrator-level positions at the alternative school? Perhaps we are legally bound, but schools cut from the bottom, instead of the top which effects more staff and children. Why is it in education quantity must always come before quality? If Wawasee is to R.I.F., why not cut these positions, regardless if these two are doing a good job or not? Wouldn't one administrator suffice?

Anonymous said...

If a superintendent wanted to convince me of his sincerity in saving money, he couldn't do better than to cut administrators at the same ratio he cuts teachers.