Citizens For A Better Norwood

Thursday, May 17, 2007

So how did NCS projected $2 million ‘08 deficit get into print?

Hint: it wasn't the school treasurer

The day after the May 8 election, we took Superintendent Steve Collier to the wood shed for remarks he made to the Enquirer following the 9-vote renewal levy win (see May 9, “The aftermath of Steve Collier’s Bad Math" below). Lest the Enquirer delete them again from their online version as we noticed they did yesterday (they’ve been restored this a.m.), we're publishing all the paragraphs related to NCS from the original May 9 article. Why? Because we’re not finished with Steve Collier or the Enquirer just yet.

In Norwood, the school district narrowly won its five-year, emergency levy renewal by nine votes, with 599 votes or 50.4 percent for and 590 votes or 49.6 percent against. The 4.28-mill levy will raise $1.75 million annually for day-to-day operations, including salaries, materials and equipment.

"I'm very excited," Superintendent Steve Collier said after learning the results. "Our district just couldn't stand to lose $1.7 million of our current budget. It's a vote of confidence for our educational community. It was close, but at least they're still coming through and supporting our schools."

The owner of a $100,000 home will pay an extra $12.13 annually for this levy, bringing the total cost to $126.57 a year. The levy was first approved in 1992 and has been renewed by voters every five years since.

Even though the levy passed, the 2,400-student district projects a $2 million deficit in 2008. The deficit would have been $4 million if the renewal had failed.

Three things:
1.) According to NCS Treasurer Tony Wright yesterday, there is NO deficit projected for 2008. A new 5-year forecast, installed yesterday on the NCS website, will be approved at tonight’s BOE meeting. Mr. Wright confirmed that it shows no deficit until 2009, just as the previous forecast did and just as the previous school treasurer reported last October.

2.) Treasurer Wright doesn’t know how “the 2,400-student district projects a $2 million deficit in 2008” misinformation got into the Enquirer article. Obviously, he didn’t provide it, so that leaves the arrow pointing to either A.) Steve Collier speaking for the district, which is exactly what school superintendents usually do, except in this case, it was misspeaking or B.) the Enquirer misreporting factual information again.

3. Thusfar, the Enquirer has not responded to our email last week asking for a correction. We’ll try again. But isn’t it Superintendent Collier’s responsibility to insist the correction is made? Has he done so? Would the Enquirer ignore a request from the very official who speaks for the district? Ignore us, yes, but ignore the superintendent? We think that‘s doubtful, but if that’s the case, why doesn’t Steve Collier make the correction on the school website for the benefit of parents and other residents? Hey, there’s an idea.