Each fiscal year on or before May 1st, the superintendent is required to submit his budget to the Board of Education and thereby begin the process of budget approval by the Board of Education and Board of Commissioners. NCGS §115C-427.
The superintendent is required to submit with his budget a concise budget explanation of the educational goals fixed by the budget for the budget year, should set forth the reasons for stated changes from the previous year in program goals, programs, and appropriation levels, and should explain any major changes in educational or fiscal policy.
To date, the citizens of Davie County have not seen the superintendent’s game plan. He now needs to show his playbook. The budget needs to be built around an academic plan; not, as we have done for many years, build an academic plan around a budget. We need to have short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals which are clearly articulated and which exceed our expectations. These goals need to be monitored, assessed, and reported to the public. Davie County expects that a high school diploma will mean that a DCHS graduate has acquired academic skills which will prepare him/her for the challenges of adulthood. Davie County expects that a high school graduate will not need to take remedial English, mathematics, or science in community college or at a four year college. Our goal should not just be to raise the percentage of students who receive diplomas. We should have two goals: to raise the percentage of students receiving diplomas and, at the same time, make certain a DCS’s diploma signifies the graduate has completed a rigorous academic program and has achieved a high level of competency in basic academic skills. We need to focus on the highest standards; not minimum standards. We need to compare ourselves to the best; not to average or below average standards.
Anyone who watched the Master’s Golf Tournament saw at least thirty Exxon Mobile commercials about educating our children. The theme of the commercials was “invest in our teachers and inspire our children.”
Last year, our commissioners, to the best of my knowledge, received budget information comparable to a relatively few numbers on the back of an envelope. 2011-2012 Budget.pdf. Our commissioners gave $9.5 million to a new superintendent about whom they knew almost nothing. The budget, if the commissioners ever saw one, was not monitored by the commissioners in any meaningful way during the year. In other words, the budget process, during the 2011-2012 fiscal year, was virtually meaningless. Even if the commissioners were provided with a budget, it would have been impossible for them to relate the $9.5 million to an academic plan. The Board of Commissioners needs the help of a highly qualified education consultant!
Our superintendent needs to move away from his contention that the common core standard is the academic plan for DCS. It is not. In the most general terms, the common core standard is a new minimum curriculum requirement which must be followed by each school district in North Carolina. An academic plan describes how the standard will be implemented. It will distinguish one school district from another. The academic plan will determine the value of a high school diploma from DCHS. The superintendent’s academic plan will determine whether our high school graduates will need remedial courses at community college or at a university.
To the credit of our superintendent and teaching staff, teachers have been training and preparing for the common core standard. It is now time for our superintendent to challenge our commissioners with a creative, documented, transparent, and well articulated academic plan that “invests in teachers and inspires our children.”
The Board of Education needs to help the commissioners complete the budget process by disclosing the source of all funds in its fund accounts and all policies and restrictions relating to the use of such funds.