SO………HERE WE GO AGAIN! The Commercial Appeal’s headlines today read as pictured below, ‘DCS to lose $700,000 in funding this year’. What always bothers me about these articles and headlines are that they do not accurately represent the situation or provide any kind of real insight or investigation into an issue. You are left believing that the sky is falling and all hell is about to break loose, so let’s take a deeper look into this matter.
Look at the picture next to today’s headline. According to the 2017 Operational Efficiency Study of our district conducted by an outside consulting group which was employed by DCS, the consultants found $2,000,000 in salaries, job reclassifications, etc. that could be saved by making their recommended changes. (Refer to this link for more details on their findings: https://app.box.com/s/0sqk1cooaovce5cexpnv7hcocbxv7vd7).
If we add the cuts the district will take this year and those cuts from last year together, they don’t equal $2,000,000. We would still be $600,000 ahead. DCS would be fine if those jobs were cut or reclassified, and that’s not to say that more things couldn’t be done to save the district money either. I am not going to elaborate on the other findings made known in the study so we can keep this post simple. If you want to know more, refer to the link above.
Next, the article does not make mention of the district’s rainy day fund balance, nor does it make mention of the local tax earning potential that our district has. When you have $75,000,000-$95,000,000 in your rainy day fund, $700,000 looks like a drop in the bucket. When citizens and DCS employees know that the county office is over staffed and over paid in many cases, it is hard to take these funding cuts articles seriously. They are not an accurate representation of the situation.
To be fair to DCS Superintendent Cory Uselton, he is not the one that got our district into the mess that it is in. That falls squarely on the shoulders of his predecessor. The whole ‘We Are Being Shorted Funding’ debate is why I have encouraged people to review the Operational Efficiency Presentation, the DCS salaries, MAEP and how school funding actually works. You need to know a lot more than one headline’s worth of information to form an opinion on this matter. You need to know how the money is allocated, how it is supposed to be spent and where the money is actually going, and I have provided citizens with plenty of information over the last several years to help you understand this issue. Regardless of changes made at the state level, our district has continuously overspent in certain areas and organized the ‘business office’ in a manner that is not efficient, functionally beneficial or cost effective.
On the other side, I will say this. When our superintendents and school boards have to turn budgets into the state and plan for the next year, it is EXTREMELY challenging when these mid-year cuts come down the pipes. It doesn’t change what the needs are for the school year, nor does it change what is expected from the schools. And with state and federal regulations to consider, it is not an easy fete to overcome at times. Cuts are never easy, but every business faces this obstacle at times. This is not an issue that is isolated to public funded agencies. Planning and savings are crucial, and according to our State Auditor’s audits of DCS, we have been found to be financially sound.
I do sympathize with the load taken on by our new superintendent, but The People should not pay the price for our former superintendent’s methodology of doing business and spending.
Stay tuned for more on this subject.
Link to MS State Auditor’s Report on DCS’s Finances:
(This report will reflect our district’s fund balances as referred to in post).
Link to the 3rd picture shared in this post which is the 2016 Unaudited Revenue Report for DCS: