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Letter to the editor

School board's deficit is irresponsible

September 26, 2012 - Dear Editor,

At the Clarkston School Board meeting on June 25, the board approved the 2012-2013 budget by a 4-3 vote. The budget that was approved by four board members authorizes the administration to spend $3.2 million more from the general fund than it will take in.

At the time this budget was approved, it extended a track record of six out of the last seven years in which the district spent more than it has taken in by the following amounts: 2007, $4 million; 2008, not available; 2009, $3.8 million; 2010, $7.2 million; 2011, $135,000; 2012, projected $2.7 million; 2013, projected $3.2 million. The track record of deficit spending may be even longer; data for years prior to 2007 was not immediately available.

That's a total deficit of $21 million over six years. While it is well-known revenues have been falling, the board had seven years or more to reduce expenses to match declining revenues; however, they failed, a majority of four members choosing instead to draw down the general fund reserve.

For the long-term financial health of the district, the board has the responsibility to produce and live within a budget in which spending is less than, or at worst equal to, income just as every household does. And the answer is not to go back to the community with requests to incur additional debt and raise taxes.

Three board members understand that; the other four do not.

However, because those four board members constitute a majority and have shown a lack of interest in, or a lack of skill regarding, being fiscally responsible, it is the community's duty to elect people to the board who do understand the need to more properly manage the district's resources to benefit students, parents, teachers, the community and to ensure the long term financial viability of the district. Regrettably, fiscal responsibility is only one aspect of the poor leadership exhibited by these same four board members.

In November you will be asked to elect four school board members. Two of those four board seats are currently occupied by the individuals who continue to manage ineffectually.

While one of those, Mr. Barry Bomier, has wisely chosen not to run for re-election, this is an opportunity for voters to excuse the other, Ms. Cheryl McGinnis, from a responsibility that appears to be either beyond her ability or beyond her level of caring and to elect people who understand the need for effective school district stewardship and open communication with the community to whom they are responsible.

Two other incumbents are also running for re-election Susan Boatman and Joan Patterson. These two fit the profile of effective leadership and open communication. The same can be said for one new candidate Betty Reilly.

If you review events of recent years, I believe you will decide to re-elect Ms. Boatman and Ms. Patterson, and to elect Ms. Reilly, because they represent the district's best prospects for a successful future.

Lawrence Matta

Independence Township

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