The Rockwood view, BOE seeks community involvement in budget planning

With a stack of print-outs the size of a small novel, the attendees of the Community Input Meeting were the lead characters for an epic tale of facts, figures and clarifications, Oct. 13.

A decreasing revenue paired with increasing spending brings a projected financial deficit in view, and the Board of Education is facing a laundry list of difficult budget decisions.

In the past four years, the BOE has cut 17 million dollars out of the District budget in order to stay out of the red, but further budget cuts are inevitable: $6.8 million worth of cuts for the 2011-2012 school year.

The District’s main focus, early in this financial decision-making process, is to not only gain the community’s support, but also their insight.

In order to get a grassroots point-of-view, the BOE has reached out to the public and invited them to share their opinions in a series of three input meetings, Oct. 6, 13 and 20.

The purpose of this Budget Task Force is to review data and hear community input regarding some possible mechanisms to: reduce costs, raise revenues and protect core functions and strategic priorities.

In the midst of this budget drama, the community members were presented with a series of numbers, projections and statistics. (For more information on the numbers game of Rockwood financing visit

What followed was, in some cases, stimulating table-top discussions in small groups about issues such as teacher salaries, the VICC program and the overall nature of future cuts.

When the time came to share the ideas that the discussions yielded, opinions varied, and to increase the money supply, the community suggested: tax levies, sports participation fees, reduced administration and increasing the amount of classes taught per teacher

The main themes and ideas from all three meetings are sent to a design team made up of Dr. Borchers, superintendent, and his cabinet of advisers.

Once these ideas and suggestions have been evaluated, different options and plans for budget cuts will be created and presented to the BOE, who will be the ultimate decision makers.

As the plot of this budget tale unfolds, the community can only hope that their suggestions will ensure that the subtitle for this drama does not read: Tragic.