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News Section: Schools and Education

Honorary Commendations and Budget Disputes at Board Chair Harry Kinnan's Final Meeting

Published Tuesday, November 13, 2012 12:05 am

BRADENTON – Veterans Day 2012 was outgoing Board Chair Harry Kinnan's last meeting. Commendation was given to all veterans, including Mr. Kinnan, who was also honored for his long tenure on the board. The meeting was also another chapter in the ongoing story of the dismal 2012-2013 district budget, which went from an enormous surplus to a $3.5 million deficit because of budget reporting errors.


During public comments, Linda Schaich went to the dais to address what she said was her ongoing difficulty in obtaining for the "full, corrected" 2012-2013 budget. Schaich noted that at the board's October 22 meeting, she made a formal request for the information to board members, and said that, though the board directed the interim superintendent to follow up on the request, "to date I've heard nothing from him," and has since only received "documents that are incorrect or incomplete, but not the document that I requested."


Mrs. Schaich noted that the budget that is presented on the school board's website only lists administrative departments and the budgets for the schools, for a total of $252 million. She remarked that much was left out of the online budget, which is almost $70 million less than the finalized budget: contract schools, MTI, charter schools, and "the all-important, all-inclusive mysterious account called 'discretionary,'" which holds $15 million by itself, according to Schaich. 


She then repeated her request for a copy to be put online and asked that it be done by November 16, saying the administration "seems to be unwilling or unable to produce the complete and accurate budget." She then said that failure to do so would force her "to take further measures." Mrs. Schaich closed by saying that the district "cannot afford more negative publicity," and that it was her hope that the document be made available to the public.


Board Attorney John Bowen then addressed Mrs. Schaich's comments. He advised that a corrected budget document did not in fact exist; instead, Mr. Bowen said, there was a draft budget that was prepared prior to the submission of a tentative budget. The draft budget was placed online; "then, pursuant to statute, a tentative budget was presented to and adopted by the school board; it was not a corrected budget...following that, pursuant to statute, the board received a final budget for approval, which had differences from the tentative budget that was submitted and published earlier," which he again stated was not a corrected budget.


Mr. Bowen then said that "there are no deficiencies" in the final budget, and that he is "unable to determine exactly what is being suggested that there is some kind of discrepancy in these budgets." He also claimed that Mrs. Schaich has been provided with "everything that she has asked for."

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That says it all - Bowen said that a corrected budget document does not exist. He then makes the statement that there are no deficiencies. How can we know that there are no deficiencies if there is no report?

To get this answer, it has taken two months, 8 emails with the CFO Boyer and 3 emails with the Press Department and the threat of legal action for lack of transparency.

I asked for the complete corrected budget for the year 2012/13. Always they say they do not understand your request and then want more detailed information and then send you information that you did not request. This is the typical transparency request procedure.

Was the board aware that there is no complete budget? We are 5 months into the fiscal year with no budget.
Posted by Linda Schaich on November 13, 2012

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