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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A junket follow-up

by folkbum

For everyone complaining about the $6 million in travel over the last four years--much of it not at taxpayer expense, and with not much attempt at divining which of those trips were frivolous--I have a question.

I rather inelegantly pointed out at the site of my new corporate masters that spending $6 million on such trips means that MPS literally spends 99.9% of its budget on things other than travel and out-of-state training for employees.

So what number would you prefer? How much--either in dollars or as a percentage--should MPS be spending on travel and training of this sort?*


Relatedly, a number of people seem most upset that the superindent and the school board president, when they had a camera shoved in their faces, didn't know the full total spent on such trips. At the same time, others are complaining about how a budget-conscious district--and one that has been tightening a variety of belts over the past decade--ought to be thinking long and hard over decisions like taking these trips. Rick Esenberg is one of those.

But the fact is that starting a decade ago, MPS has been turning over the lion's share of budgeting to schools in "site-based management," which was the conservative reform buzzword a while back. It means cutting central office "bloat" and putting parents in more direct control of what happens in a school. Ergo, your disconnection between the people at the top and every detail of what's been done in all 200+ schools at the bottom. There is a school governance board with parents and community members who oversee the budget, including travel, at each school--how much more oversight do we need? I guess the pendulum is now swinging back to more centralized authority.

* If you find yourself unable or unwilling to answer that question, go read this post and then wonder why you were so upset with me then.

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