Wayland school board meets, beats budget goals

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an an editorial by the editor.

The Wayland Board of Education has quietly and stealthily managed to almost triple the size of the district’s fund balance over the past nine years.

The news was presented by Leslie Wagner, director of finance and operations, at last Monday night’s school board meeting. She told board members the current budget shows a fund balance of slightly more than 21 percent. This is quite a contrast with what was going on at the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year.

In 2015, Finance Director Bill Melching announced that that about $118,000 had been added to the fund balance, bringing the percentage of the budget up to between 7.7 and 7.8 percent. The fund balance at the end of the previous fiscal year was 7.34%, so the improvement almost met the board’s requirements of increasing it every year by at least a half a percent.

The general fund budget set July 1, 2015, was for about $26.8 million with just over $2 million in the fund balance.

For those who aren’t sure just what the budget does, school officials are supposed to report how much the district is supposed to obtain in the next fiscal year, how much is expected in expenditures and how much is left over in a sport of savings account, or fund balance, or “rainy day” fund to handle unexpected or catastrophic expenses.

The Wayland Union school district budget since then has continued to improve every year. Finance Director Patricia Velie, who succeeded Melching, told the school board the fund balance for fiscal year 2017-18, projected a $624,000 surplus in revenue over expenditures, which brought the cumulative fund balance, or savings account, to 11.65% of the entire budget of more than $29.2 million.

Now we’re talking $21.1%.

This, despite the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic and building projects, such as the new wing at the middle school.

To be sure, the state in the last six years has stepped up state aid funding, but I can recall all too well when the school board sternly warned the administrators they’d better bring that paltry 7% fund balance up, at first to 12 percent and later to 16 percent.

I suppose there are some employee groups who might seize on this financial good news to demand more in compensation. Take it easy, boys and girls. Though this good fortune should indeed be spread around for everyone’s benefit, I’d hate to see the surplus squandered quickly, by, in the words of the late John McCain, “spending money like a drunken sailor.”

1 Comment

  • Spending money to educate students by ensuring that our teachers and support staff make a competitive wage and stay in our district instead of bailing for other districts with higher pay is not “spending money like a drunken sailor “. It is faithfully applying education funding to do what is intended to do – educate students.

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