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News Section: Schools and Education

Discovered Unbudgeted Items Discussed at School Board Workshop Meeting

Published Wednesday, December 5, 2012 12:01 am

BRADENTON – At Tuesday's workshop meeting, the Manatee County School Board listened and asked questions while district CFO Michael Boyer went through several discovered items that had not been included in the school district's deficit-inducing 2012-2013 budget. Conversation at the meeting was limited to the board and Mr. Boyer, as public comments were not included as part of the meeting.


Interim Superintendent David Gayler began discussion on the financial update by saying that, upon taking his current position after the board's formal announcement of the budget's issues in September, he had hoped to find a large number of unbudgeted items that would help explain the large deficit gap, and that, good or bad news, the time had come for the update he had promised the board six weeks ago. 


Gayler said that a hard look has since been taken at where there exists unbudgeted items, and that the discovered items that came to his and Mr. Boyer's attention, which were funded last year but not this year, were what would be shared at the meeting; and that there may be more unbudgeted items which have yet to be discovered.


Following Dr. Gayler's introductory remarks, Mr. Boyer presented a document that showed the discovered unbudgeted items and went through each accordingly. Terminal pay (or pay for unused annual leave) and non-contracted hourly pay, he noted, had both been partially funded: $2.9 million for terminal pay, with up to $1 million unaccounted for; and as much as $359,000 unaccounted for in non-contracted pay, which was partially funded with $1.4 million. 


Board member David Miner then interjected, asking whether the numbers given for the two types of pay were "guesstimates," which Mr. Boyer confirmed; "there are a lot of variables (in terminal pay) - you can't really project when people are going to retire throughout the year," he said. 


Board member and Vice Chair Julie Aranibar posed the next question, asking if Mr. Boyer knew the cost of last year's terminal pay in comparison to this year's, to which the CFO replied that there were several high-level executive director positions that probably had a large impact on last year's terminal pay number, which was over $4.5 million.


Ms. Aranibar then advised that many people who were in those high-level positions had moved from a lower position within the time of retirement, "which dramatically shifts the cost of retirement because they leave the district" with a very high-paying salary. "So when we're hiring for those high-level positions, that's going to have to be a consideration in the future," she said.


Regarding the unbudgeted $318,000 in Athletic Security and Transportation for school sport related events, questions were raised about being able to clearly see how each school in the county was spending their given funds for the item. In response, Mr. Boyer said that he currently did not have such exact information, but that he would request it from the schools.


The total dollar amount for the unbudgeted items in the report is estimated at $4,483,000. Dr. Gayler said that discussion on long-term solutions for future budgets would begin as early as Janurary or February.


The official list of found unbudgeted items for the school district's 2012-2013 budget can be found here. 

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What do you call spending the Taxpayer's money without having proper authority via an approved Budget expenditure? ------- Fraud? Misconduct? Larceny? Normal course of Business?
Posted by Steve Vernon on December 6, 2012

Thanks to the Bradenton Times for giving full unbiased coverage to the school financial problems as they have developed. Dennis Maley has been willing to cover problems that the other newspapers were reluctant to print. We could not have accomplished this partial transparency from the school district without their support. Remember, this is only the preliminary report as the forensic auditors have not made their presentation yet.
Linda Schaich
Taxpayer Watch Committee
Posted by Linda Schaich on December 5, 2012

Up until a couple of years ago, the public was involved in the budget process for this district. As a former member of that budget committee, we constantly heard statements of "you don't understand how we do things around here" and consistently had district administrators avoid full disclosure of spending - and very poor reports provided to examine spending trends.

These revelations are shocking but not surprising. Many concerns of transparency and accuracy were raised years ago just to be rewarded with the school district terminating public participation with the budgets. I think we can safely say why this happened.

But most shocking is the fact that a pattern of unbudgeted spending occurred; if the senior administrators have that as a standard practice, then the problems won't be solved by finding money - it will require professionals that respect and adhere to approved budgets and policies.
Posted by James Ferguson on December 5, 2012

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