Saturday, October 24, 2009

State Education Leaders Prepare to Fight Stumbo Plan

Kentucky's educational organizations for superintendents, school boards and school administrators have drafted a sample resolution for schools to protest House Speaker Greg Stumbo's plan to seize school contingency funds.

The resolution notes that the contingency funds come from local tax dollars in many districts: "taxpaying voters and property owners who reside in within the boundaries of this school system have contributed their local tax dollars to meet those local education expenses, which in turn have been incorporated both in the district’s budgeted allocations and planned contingency funds."

The point is that Stumbo does not seek to transfer state funds between state agencies, but rather to take local funds to give to the state. It's sort of like one level of government exercising eminent domain on a lower level of government.

The resolution takes a swipe at the Beshear administration for mandating schools to raise salaries -- but not providing any state money to help pay for the raise. That forces schools to use their contingency funds to pay for this and other unfunded mandates. To be sure, teachers should be well paid. But Democrats in Frankfort have dictated the timing and amount of the raises, without contributing any state money, and now Stumbo seeks punish those schools who tried to budget around his ham-fisted use of unfunded mandates.

Accordingly, the resolution criticizes Stumbo's plan to punish schools for having built contingency funds "through careful and effective financial management and effective budgeting, planned for unexpected expenses and the elimination of federal stimulus funds with conservative budgeting of reserve monetary resources."

Finally, the resolution urges citizens to contact their state senators and representatives to protest the Stumbo plan and fight to retain local "community control of this district’s vital financial resources for the teaching and learning of our children."

Stumbo is going to wish he'd thought of a different place to raid for money than local school districts. Even if he can muscle the votes, he will have bought himself a law suit. And he will forever be known as the guy who tried to steal the schools' contingency funds.

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