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Payne Kilbourn is set to give his final presentation as an elected member of the King George School Board at tonight’s meeting. Kilbourn has earned a reputation for provocative presentations. (to see Payne Kilbourn's PowerPoint presentation, please follow this link)
For example, on June 11, 2008, he outlined his plan to “overcome the local press,” blaming newspaper reports for the School Board’s failure to get as large a budget as it wanted.
At that time, Kilbourn provided comments on the budget session that had recently ended culminating in the adoption of the county and School Board budgets for fiscal year 2008-2009.
He spoke of his disappointment, saying, “This is my second budget cycle as a member of the board. Despite in-depth review of the school’s needs and a well-crafted budget presentation and supporting documents, particularly this last cycle, this board has been unsuccessful in convincing the community and the Board of Supervisors that more funding is required.”
Yet, in that fiscal year where he complained the division did not get enough money for the year that ended this past June 30, 2009, more than $1 million was left unspent by the division administration.
At last month’s meeting, Kilbourn had requested a spot on the Dec. 9 agenda noting his slide presentation was already e-mailed and on the way to the other members of the School Board, saying, “It identifies a number of metrics we can use to identify school performance.”
It’s also likely to provide an opportunity to comment on last week’s action by the Board of Supervisors, which effectively denied a request by the School Board for an additional appropriation of $470,449 in the current fiscal year. That’s a portion of the funding that was not spent in 2008-2009 as noted above.
The School Board had provided the county with no indication of any needs for those requested funds, only its desire to have them transferred.
The requested funds were a portion of the $1.19 million the School Board had discovered were unspent by Superintendent Candace Brown at the end of the last fiscal year.
That surplus had been left on the table during a year of complaints by Kilbourn and his colleagues that the division was underfunded.
Kilbourn has continued to hammer away at that theme, repeatedly noting that the county has the lowest per pupil expenditure in the state.
His slides sent out in advance of tonight’s presentation indicate that the King George per pupil expenditure for 2007-2008 was $7,795 compared to the state average of $10,505.
Along with other data, he indicates that the recently submitted annual report for 2008-2009 indicates the county per pupil expenditure was reported as $8,582.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Grzeika recently commented on that per pupil expenditure metric.
“The problem I have with just using a dollar amount per pupil number as the gauge for education support is that the number by itself ignores the factors of efficiency and smart buying,” he said.
Grzeika said one example of that success by the county was procuring a new 1,500-pupil high school for about $40 million while other counties were building similar school facilities for $60 million.
Grzeika had other comments about using the per pupil expenditure comparisons.
“There is no correlation to performance or the effectiveness of the system,” Grzeika said. “It does not compare what things we the county may do that offset costs to the schools, finance, grounds maintenance, etc.”
He added, “It is a very simplistic point that is used, but there is no evidence that increased spending always results in increased quality or performance. If it were true, then Washington, D.C., should have the best school system in the nation”
Grzeika also said of the county’s fiscal management: “It may appear that we have a big surplus. But the real evidence on the wisdom of being prepared won't be shown for a few years. And it needs to be assessed as we work our way out of the downturn we will have to address in the next two to three years, or more. I am very happy that we have resources in place to address what is one of the largest economic downturns in my lifetime. The alternative is to spend the reserves without concern for the future and just tax the citizens to cover the rest as we try to get out this economic situation we are facing.”
School Board member Payne Kilbourn is slated to make the argument that the division needs more funding for a final time before he leaves office at tonight’s meeting and is expected to give an explanation for why that $1.19 million was left unspent at the end of the last school year.