It’s a good idea.
It has a good staff.
But do taxpayers want to divert money from students and classrooms to support Gardner Edgerton Youth and Community Programs?
Last year, with little public discussion and no apparent business plan, the district started GEYCP. When the programs began, officials estimated a breakeven point near $250,000. After the first year, the loss is $214,000.
With about 2,500 participants, that’s a loss of $87 for each.
Or, put another way, with 900 employees, that would be an additional $238 annually each.
Or, with 6,100 students, that’s about $35 each that could be used to offset parents’ costs for school supplies, or to offset enrollment fees.
The old adage is “you can’t sell at a loss,” but that seems to be the conundrum USD 231 is in — the more participants you enroll, the higher the loss. If you are running the program “like a business,” that offers few options: cut salary and expenses, raise participant costs, or borrow money.
The Board of Education seems to have opted to borrow money by transferring about $204,000 from the general fund, which is funded by mill levy – taxpayers’ money – and generally used for teachers, classrooms and students.
Instead, the money is going towards programs — some already offered by both Gardner and Johnson County parks and recreations – such as basketball, volleyball and other sports-inclined program.
We believe the Board of Education needs to take a serious look at the program’s long term financial effects on the district.
We believe the Board of Education needs to determine whether the program’s mission meets the statutes’ requirements: (1) Providing pupils with additional time to achieve learner exit or improvement plan outcomes; (2) giving pupils remedial instruction or independent study assistance; (3) affording pupils an opportunity to strengthen or attain mastery of basic or higher order thinking skills; and (4) conducting special projects and activities designed to enrich and enhance the educational experience of pupils.
We believe the Board of Education needs to determine if the district’s taxpayer monies should be used on programs that duplicate the city and county’s, which taxpayers already subsidize.
And we believe the BOE should not arbitrarily transfer taxpayers’ monies from the intended purpose of students – out of sight – with a quiet bookkeeping maneuver.
The BOE seems to be on the path to increased transparency and public input; please review the GEYCP. It’s a well-intended program with an excellent staff.
Please tighten the focus and review the financial viability, as well as sticking to the district’s major objective: educate our youth and prepare them for the future.
Please continue the path towards reconciliation and cooperation with the City of Gardner to form a partnership that is efficient and cost-effective for taxpayers.
And, number one, – ask the taxpayers if this is how they want their money spent.