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Public Document: Fiscal Year 2011-12 School Board Budget

May 26, 2011

The School Board’s fiscal year 2011-12 budget was passed at their Thursday, May 12th meeting. The public version of this document can be found here. Note that this is hosted on the school board’s server. We’re trying to link as much as we can to public documents on the localities servers and still bring them to you in a timely fashion because, frankly, we need to conserve our limited hosting space. But that’s another conversation for another time.

Commentary: This document provides a pretty good glimpse into the school division’s fiscal workings. It lists projected expenditures by department and school. Additionally, it provides comparative data for the past two fiscal year. I personally would like to see more data–my biggest thing right now is getting the actual expenditures out there, and I don’t mean the document that is little more than a spreadsheet that the division was recently required by state law to start publishing–I’m talking about putting the checkbook out there. This has been a bit of a gray area for sometime in regards to localities–some counties do it, but Fairfax County and others were hesitant to do it due to legal opinions that it could violate state and federal privacy laws. However, a law passed by the General Assembly in 2011 finally allows localities to do just that, and I hope that Shenandoah will soon step up to the plate. All that said, it is unclear if the school board could do that. While county school divisions are not recognized under state law as political subdivisions of the commonwealth, they do have their own set of rules relating to finances. Additionally, given the number of employees and the fact that they deal with minors, there could be a whole set of legal issues complicating or even forbidding the process. This is an issue we’ll continue to delve into, but for the time being I believe that this budget offers a good, if incomplete, starting point for discussion amongst county political activists and leaders. Kudos to Finance Director Jeremy Raley for emailing this to me, as well as getting it up before he said he would. For clarification, the finance department is currently in the midst of handling contracts for the coming school year and the fact that this is derived from a larger (70 pages) document, which we may try to get our hands on. Let us know what you think.

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