Ferndale Patch welcomes letters to the editor.
The following was submitted by Ferndale Board of Education candidate Brad Parks.
TALKING ABOUT THE 'F' WORD IN FERNDALE SCHOOLS - SCHOOL FINANCE
In the past several weeks as the race for Ferndale Board of Education seats has heated up, I am surprised to see very little discussion about the "F" word in Ferndale schools- namely, school Finance.
While the Citizens for Better Education endorsed candidates have stressed Ferndale's balanced budget and the growing general "rainy day" fund (a rarity in Oakland county schools during these tough economic times), their opponents from CLEAR have repeatedly called for cuts in income to the district (such as the Superintendent's consulting contract, which brings in $180,000 a year), new expenses for the district (such as a new strategic plan, estimated to cost up to $100,000), and have openly advocated renegotiating the Superintendent's contract to a 1 year in the middle of his current 5-year contract (which could cost up to $600,000 if his contract is ended prematurely, even though he has received uniformly high marks on his district performance review for the past 10 years).
During the last school board candidate forum, one of the CLEAR candidates stated they had no idea why the district even needed a rainy day fund at all. For the record, the general fund is required to cover district expenses in case of emergency, and is recommended by the state auditors and business officials to be at 15% of the school operating budget. While other Districts are dipping into their general fund to cover everyday expenses, our fund has been growing over the past 10 years and is now at 11%. In our last audit by the accounting firm of Yeo and Yeo, the management of our school district finances was given high marks for transparency and careful budgeting. CLEAR also appeared unaware that the district is forced by the current state school funding regulations to borrow monies to cover district expenses that occur before the school year starts, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars each year in interest payments. A robust Rainy Day fund will eliminate this current necessity and save the district money that can be applied towards real educational needs.
It's distressing to see CLEAR candidates promote themselves as a fresh new alternative, when, if they were to be elected, Ferndale schools would have a board with little experience, an openly confrontational approach towards the Superintendent and the school administration, and a new deficit of at least a quarter of a million dollars, if not more. What teachers and programs in the district would CLEAR candidates propose cutting in order to re-balance a budget that the current board has worked so hard to achieve?
These are the kinds of hard questions voters should ask themselves before voting for the radical CLEAR agenda. This is why I felt it was so important to work on Board committees for the past three years-- to understand our district processes before considering myself ready to take my experience to the next level and run for school board.
I urge you not to make any bold, foolish choices on Election Day, and put your support behind the proven experience of Keith Warnick, Katrina Collins, Jim Pfleger and me, Brad Parks. Thank you.
Candidate for Ferndale School Board