There is a difference in “running it like a business” and trying to be a public sector in business using other people’s money.
We see it time and time again, most recently with USD 231’s Gardner Edgerton Youth Community Partnership.
Elected officials have a great idea – the GEYCP. It’s visionary.
But GEYCP has lost at least $153,000. You know, money used to teach our students and pay our teachers.
The fund that is paid for by taxpayers’ thru a mill levy.
No one asked that the school district form a department that is basically competitive with Gardner city or Johnson County, (and which residents are already taxed for) but apparently last year it seemed like a good idea to the school board – and – poof! Two staff members were hired and a business was formed – using taxpayers’ money, of course.
The problem with a public business is this one lacks what most of them do – a bankable business model, budget and break even point. At least if there is one, it’s not yet been supplied.
There’s a big difference in managing money, and making it. To sell widgets, you have to know basic costs, breakeven point, and how much profit is needed. You probably need to get a loan or investor, so the plan has to be viable enough to receive funding.
To manage taxpayer money, you just hire staff and keep financial records, kinda. If you run short – pass another bond. Or borrow from the general fund to reimburse the extraordinary school fund – which is supposed to be self supporting. Assuming the GEYCP ever sees a profit. In 30 years, we’ve never seen a truly self-supporting park department, but who knows?
In the meantime, the GEYCP cost is being underwritten by teachers and students and classrooms.
It’s not that the GEYCP is a bad program; not that we don’t have top notch staff; not that it may not be viable with correct oversight, but the truth is, elected officials and paid staff are not business owners. The USD 231 budget is not a public slush fund, GEYCP should not have been started without more transparency and public discussion . Taxpayer money is to be utilized to educate our children.
At least one school board member, Greg Chapman, has asked questions regarding the GEYCP negative balance. At a recent meeting he requested an oversight committee be established to monitor the GEYCP. Thank you Mr. Chapman for watching out for the public’s best interest and being a good financial steward.
We hope the rest of the board quits going along to get along and asks questions and makes the tough decisions.