Paz, superintendent move to shut down information flow : Sutherland for Schools blog
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Paz, superintendent move to shut down information flow

by Ann Sutherland on 02/27/19

Trustee Ashley Paz's rude interruption of my comment clarifying that schools of choice spend twice as much money per child as children at traditional sites is a drop in the budget compared to Dr. Scribner's refusal to answer legitimate and very significant questions about our budgeting.  


Put simply, he refused to provide data I requested which would explain why the district underspent its last full-year general fund budget by $50 million.  Neither he, nor the CFO, nor the budget officer could explain what happened.  Since he refuses to give real information, following is my estimate of the shortchanging education to our children.

Since 75% of this money is spent at the school site, we can estimate that $37.5 million at school sites, where the kids are, went unspent.  This money is sitting in the bank, not in our classrooms.  

And while children need services, as pointed out in the careful staff report and amplified by President Jackson last night, our savings account is growing, by $70 million just in the last year (enriched by additional dollar sources to the general fund).  

"Do not ask for whom the bell tolls," wrote John Donne in the 15th century, "It tolls for thee."  We are one, and this tragedy is all of ours.


Comments (8)

1. Angela K. Groves-Price said on 2/27/19 - 08:28PM
Absolutely unacceptable when so many teachers are spending their paychecks to fund their classrooms. He owes them an explanation
2. Anonymous said on 2/28/19 - 08:55PM
I honestly cannot understand why his contract was extended. I'm tired of the greed and corruption. Education is slowly changing. Teachers are speaking up. People have more options. Unfortunately,enrollment will continue to decline.
3. Voice said on 3/1/19 - 04:48AM
How do you know this money is "sitting in the bank?" The obvious question is, why are you not taking this to the Attorney General or Channel 11 who is currently doing an excellent expose on De Soto ISD? Since you have repeatedly claimed you know nothing about the millions spent in legal fees on the Palazzolo case, would you care to comment on Scribner again hiring Brandt's Law Firm to research and file a five page appeal of a recent Open Records Request for these fees since 2014? If as you have claimed, there are no fees paid, why hide? These are PUBLIC FUNDS being spent. Or perhaps this was just another one of those "deals" between Board Members.
4. Ann replies to voice said on 3/1/19 - 01:19PM
We know the money is in the bank because the outside auditor says so. The reserves went up from a projected $136 million projected by staff in June 2018 to $213 million in the audit. This is nearly twice the percentage recommended for our district's general fund.
5. David said on 3/3/19 - 03:40PM
Ann, As you have said repeatedly and correctly, the growing fund balance has been a serious issue for years. During the last budget "crisis" at the state level, state legislators used the fact that districts, such as, and including, FWISD, had such huge fund balances as rationale for not increasing funding to the districts. You can't really blame them. Instead of spending money on its students and teachers, CFOs preach a language of fear, doom, and gloom that scares anyone who hears it. With respect to the schools of choice spending twice as much per pupil as other schools, can you please post or direct us to the budgets for these schools? If what you state is true, and I don't have any reason to doubt you, the board is vulnerable to countless lawsuits due to funding inequities across campuses. In respect to decreasing funding due to decreasing enrollment, FWISD had a window from about 10 years to five years ago to create or redesign numerous elementary schools that better responded to the desires of parents and the needs of students. The simple fact that the FWISD board dug in its heels on this is a large contributing factor for the reason that Charter Schools in FW are now so appealing to parents--resulting in thousands of students leaving the system to seek greener pastures in Charter Schools. Whether they have found El Dorado or the elusive silver bullet, the rest of the kids in the system will suffer due to decreased economies of scale. The board should be clamoring for administration to open new, innovative, and inspirational programs and schools of choice across the whole district. It is the only hope for stemming the loss of students. And don't bother mentioning the leadership academies--they are necessary for their neighborhoods but are a band aid on a much bigger bleeding wound. Instead of focusing on what was good for kids and the community as a whole (a vibrant school system), the board subjected the community, its schools, and its staff to an 8 year circus on a merry go 'round of superintendents and a cacophony of distracting noise from their squabbling and in-fighting.
6. David said on 3/3/19 - 03:43PM
Fund Balances. When districts cry for more money at the state level, legislators have been responding for years that districts are not even using the money they send...so why should they send more? Doom and gloom CFOs consistently over budget and create barriers for spending that result in incomplete spending of funds. Can you blame the legislators for not sending yet more money...so it can sit there earning interest instead of investing in the future of our city?
7. David said on 3/3/19 - 03:55PM
Ann, can you direct us to where we can review the budget figures you mention regarding the district spending twice the money on schools of choice as opposed to regular schools? If they are doing this....huge lawsuits... FWISD had a window from about 2008 to 2016 during which it could have aggressively expanded its portfolio of appealing schools of choice, especially at the elementary level where enrollment is being lost to charter schools. The Leadership Academies are a valiant attempt to redesign some very needy schools, but they are not the type of intervention that will attract parents with enough social capital to seek out options in the charter world. Instead of calling for this type of visionary work, the board preferred to keep the district on a merry go 'round of 4 superintendents in 5 years. The charters in Dallas and elsewhere sensed the opportunity caused by chaos and wasted no time in getting over to this side of the metroplex.
8. Ann replies to David #5,6,7 said on 3/3/19 - 10:58PM
I will post some of this information tomorrow a.m. The audit reports are at https://www.fwisd.org/Page/3992 [you would like the path for future: fwisd.org, then "departments", then "accounting", then Consolidated Annual Financial Reports. You can see the growing surplus from this. But in order to see the budgeted figures used when the budget was adopted [i.e., the "before" dollars], you have to ask for certain handouts and they are not typically posted online. I will post some more tomorrow. BTW I am considering continuing my analyses after leaving the board; if you are interested I would like to work with an associate. It has taken me a long time to figure out how to ask these questions.


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