Budget committee helps school board



On June 5, the Orcas Island School District (OISD) Board held a special workshop to meet with its Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) as part of the ongoing process to develop a balanced budget proposal for the 2008-2009 school year.

Steve Diepenbrock, BAC Chair, began by listing the seven basic principals guiding the BAC’s work:

1) Fully code all revenues and all expenses at the time of initial entry

2) Match revenues to expenditures throughout the budget

3) Utilize current year expenditures (YTD/actuals) in determining budget amounts

4) Discuss and evaluate relative risk when establishing the level of the budget contingency

5) Locate all contingency money in a single fund. Document all uses of the fund to inform subsequent year budget development

6) Limit budget adjustments to a semi-annual “swish.” Document the “swish.”

7) Establish monthly accountability cycle comparing YTD to budget.

Diepenbrock said that the driving force behind the BAC’s work was “a desire for transparency, for specificity, and for a working budget we can all have access to.”

He described the budget as a tool that over the years may be used more precisely. With the aid of BAC members Nancy Loomis and Dave Parish, Diepenbrock compared the past year’s actual budget expenditures, and said the group’s focus was “on building, rather than comparing, budgets.”

OISD Board member and BAC representative Keith Whitaker suggested that the next year’s budget should be adjusted according to actual expenditures in any given category.

Board member Charlie Glasser praised the BAC’s process, saying it helps the community understand the budget. “If it works to RIF one less teacher, it’s a good process. Ben [Thomas, District Business Manager] has done a great job in so many ways, and done it in a context of crisis.”

Board Member Tony Ghazel said, “We are at the point of pain but we don’t get to stop, because we’re looking at removing $350,000 from the budget.”

The board then directed the BAC to review every program with program directors for budget opportunitites.”

Other members of the BAC are Sam Windsor, Phil Heikkinen and Gregory Books.

The budget must be finalized by July 31. The next OISD Board meeting will be June 16 at 5 p.m.