What surprises will tonight’s Board meeting hold? Based on the budget discussions from last week’s committee meeting it might be another barn burner. From PAC AAUP, reprinted with permission:
An eyebrow-raising dialogue ensued at last night’s Committee Board meeting. During the Audit, Budget and Finance Committee Trustee Alderete requested detailed (item-level) budget and expense reports. This is a reasonable request supported by Trustee Kingsbery and Chairperson Bustamante. Recall that Dr. Thomas Settles made a similar request at last month’s Board meeting.Why eyebrow raising? The reluctance from District personnel and a few Board members was apparent. A casual observer could easily see that the not so subtle resistance raises suspicion. You must see for yourself.Go to the following link. You’ll find the dialogue at 3:33.00 and Trustee Alderete’s request begins at 3:38:00 (The location might be different on your browser. It’s the last item discussed at the Board meeting).Trustee Alderete pointed out that the names of categories under which budget items are subsumed appear arbitrary. The only way to really understand whether efficiencies are being realized is to flesh out detail that allows Board members, taxpayers and other stakeholders to better examine decisions made by District. Lacking transparency via line-item detail, such decisions cannot be properly evaluated.Concerns regarding Alderete’s request were raised on the basis that District’s finance personnel should be trusted, that it would be an unnecessary burden on them, and that the level of detail would only confuse rather than elucidate.Keep in mind that efficiency models that hide behind the threat of austerity (saving taxpayer dollars) may serve as redistribution schemes that ultimately reduce the quality of instruction and hide unintended operational inefficiencies. The best antidote to misguided efficiency schemes is transparency. Barring confidential information protected by law, reporting budget detail can only enhance public trust. Trustee Alderete’s request is sound and deserves a response.
Yes, why this extreme reluctance to release a line-item detailed budget? We’d link to tonight’s Board agenda, but the District network has been down all day. Network issues at the beginning of every semester. You can set your watch by it.