Superintendent of Schools John Ramos says don’t listen to the media, ignore those blogs! Well, since I’m in a good mood today and in the spirit of fairness and goodwill I present for your reading pleasure the school chief’s explanation of how he missed $2 million that could have been spent on the kids. Here ya go, without sarcastic rejoinder…
AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT
The Budget Surplus
Good Afternoon. Last week we shared with the Board of Education the fact that the budget balance for ‘08-’09 was $2 million higher than expected. In what was a highly complex budget year, the reasons for this development are multiple and include culpability on the part of both us, the Board of Education, and the city. Once this information became evident to us, we immediately brought it to the attention of the elected Board of Education and the public. Further, we are continuing to salvage whatever portion of this surplus that we can, and working to ensure that any missteps are not repeated. I’m sharing this with you at this time so you will have heard it directly from me. I urge you not to draw your conclusions from the media or local blog. If you have questions, please call me. Most of us work hard. We need every dollar that we fight for. The additional surplus is painful, but we will continue to fight on in every venue for our scholars.
Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr., Ed.D., Superintendent
Bridgeport Public Schools
MEMO EXPLAINING THE BUDGET SURPLUS
To: John J. Ramos, Sr., Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools
PC: Board of Education Members
Robert Henry, Chief of Staff
From: Julio Molleda, Director of Finance & Business Services
RE: FY08-09 Bridgeport Public Schools Operating Budget Report
Date: September 9, 2009
The information presented below intends to provide additional factors contributing to the increased surplus.
As of 7/24/09, a modified budget surplus of $2,370,664 was being projected (see attached budget report). As of 9/4/09 and after all outstanding purchase orders were closed and year-end accruals were finally posted, a modified budget surplus of $4,571,922 resulted (budget report also enclosed). This surplus is $2,071,922 over the BOE committed surplus of $2,500,000 to assist the City in addressing the projected fiscal deficit.
Below is a summarization of variances by major account categories:
$ 546,115 In planning for fiscal year 09-10 MUNIS implementation the City stated that the payroll for July 10, ‘09 would be charged 100% to fiscal year 08-09 to allow for a “as clean as possible” transition into the MUNIS system; however, the reversal of this decision by the City generated the additional surplus by charging three days of salary to the fiscal year 09-10.
$ 123,000 Unanticipated Special Education Revenues received during July and August and crediting the out-of – district tuition line.
$ 147,646 Year-end pre-buys moved to FY09-10 as a result of vendors not being able to deliver goods or services together services with invoices prior to June 30, 2009 as required by the City related to the MUNIS system implementation. In prior years, goods needed to be encumbered by 6/30 and merchandise could be received and paid against the open purchase order once the goods had been received. Services had to be rendered by 6/30 but invoices could be processed till the end of mid August.
$ 363,016 Special Education Transportation savings and gasoline.
$1,028,670 Facilities Maintenance and Repairs including Custodial Supplies, Utilities, Landscaping Services, HVAC Equipment, Maintenance & Repairs, etc. The entering and approval of invoices into the financial system is centralized under the Accounts Payable function in City Finance. The experienced staff turnover due to City wide lay-offs and the delay in replacing positions, negatively impacted the Department’s ability to perform routine financial functions. Some past-due invoices in Utilities and Cleaning supplies have been incorporated in this latest forecast. The process of identifying other past due invoices by the Facilities Department continue at the present time.
In Summary, control over some basic financial operations functions residing in City Departments does not necessarily address the operating needs of the school system. MJLM report addressed, among several recommendations, the need of a single line budget item approval by City Council that was not adopted by the Education Committee of the City Council even though this recommendation was approved in full by both the BOE and the City Council in previous meetings. Some of these functions, like the posting of payrolls, journal entries, purchase order creation, etc. are examples of items currently handled by City Finance.
Some of the current procurement issues deal with the lack of approval for “standing” orders also known as “blanket” purchase orders. This means that individual lines have to be entered in the requisition stretching limited personnel resources and delaying the creation of purchase orders and therefore the delivery of goods and services on a timely manner. It is not uncommon in the Education field to have purchase orders with multiple lines.
Regarding the Internal Service Fund, cost projections were not shared with our Department during Budget Development despite our request. Attached please find copy of City Ordinance regarding the Internal Service Fund. Attached please find FY08-09 and FY09-10 Summary information regarding the Internal Service Fund. Please note that the projected expenditures FY 09-10 are fully funded by our requested increase of 6.5% and meets the $40 million obligation.
All the above illustrate the manner in which the financial management of the BOE affairs are continuously handicapped in the performance of its duties, which in most school districts is a given. Furthermore, this was an unusual year in which we were first approached regarding a $7 million dollar contribution to the city to assist in eliminating the larger deficit of $20 million. This continued to manifest throughout the year causing employee lay offs, furloughs and bumping of staff into positions that required training and upgrading of skills.