I'm not a professional accountant, but it seems to me that fiscal responsibility and common sense demand that we should plan our budget with a focus on actually being able to afford all our costs for the foreseeable future. As long as I can remember, HSD has been constantly reporting to the public (==> you!) that the schools are in crisis, and don't have the money we need, so therefore you must approve new taxes/bonds/etc. for the children. How can we say this when our inflation-adjusted spending has not only been increasing without bound for half a century, but in the years when we do have sufficient money, we spend it all instead of engaging in prudent financial planning? Does a district that manages its funds like this really deserve to spend more of your hard-earned tax dollars?
That is why I and several other board members asked a lot of questions about this budget, and specifically requested that the district come up with a zero-deficit plan: a spending plan that will show how, for the projected future over the next decade, we can organize our district finances so that we will be able to afford the expenses in our budget. Of course there are no guarantees in life-- things might work out differently from the projections-- but we need to at least make an attempt at this, rather than spending all our money and hoping the future "crisis" will result in more gifts from the public or legislature.
The arguments for spending all our money in the good years seem to be focused on the following points:
Anyway, I am somewhat encouraged by the fact that the revised projections look like they will truly enable us to create a zero-deficit plan without making many major sacrifices as a district. Mike and Adam have promised to come back with such a plan at our next meeting, in addition to the current spend-everything plan. While we may have to give up a few elements of our wish list, and live with less class size reduction or arts grants, I really think that making long-term plans based on continually living within our means is the best direction for our district and our children.