Former Teacher Questions School Board On Budget

At the Feb. 18 meeting of the Crestwood School Board, a former Crestwood math teacher questioned the school district’s tentative budget and the idea that the school board may need to cut programs or lay off teachers. After some squabbling over the numbers, one board member stated that cutting programs and staff is something the board is trying to avoid.

Retired teacher Barry Boone was compelled to address the school board after last month’s meeting, when Solicitor Jack Dean reported that the new budget “will have severe financial consequences which may force the district to make cuts possibly to programs and staff.”

At that Jan. 21 meeting, it was announced that the current school board had recently learned that the prior school board president had signed a contract for this tentative 2016-17 budget without knowledge of the school board, solicitor, or financial manager.

While long-term Financial Manager Albert Melone, Jr. had not yet completed a thorough review, the current school board was required to approve the tentative budget at the January meeting or incur tax restrictions established by state index. Melone glumly described the fiscal future as “terminal,” with a “troubling shortfall of $1.6 million dollars,” and “a 4% tax increase.”

The board then unanimously accepted the preliminary budget of $37,986,982, with a tax rate of 10.06 mills. The current tax rate is 9.63 with a budget that is over $2 million less.

On Feb. 18, Boone told the board that he’s been analyzing the district’s budget for the past six years and he didn’t feel the “scare tactics” of predicting cuts of programs and staff was necessary.

An extra million dollars seems to be budgeted but not spent each year, Boone contended. “I think we aren’t being given straight facts,” Boone told the board. “I’m tired of the doom and gloom forecasts.”

Boone gave the board a chart outlining budget numbers. An irritated Dean pointed out inaccuracies in the numbers and asked where he got the information. Most of his information came from the district’s website, Boone said. He went on to compare past and present numbers and, as Boone spoke, Melone took offense to his use of the word “miscalculation.”

“A budget is an estimate. Your choice of the word miscalculation is not accurate,” Melone said.

Boone went on that the teachers are being blamed and the staff, along with