Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lack of fiscal transparency in Lawrence Public Schools under state receiver

From the article covering the announcement that Lawrence School Committee member Jim Blatchford will run for Lawrence City Council:
At the meeting, Riley responded to Blatchford's request for a line-item account of school spending by saying only that he had delegated responsibility for the budget to aides so that he could focus “on learning and teaching.
Blatchford pressed on until Mayor Daniel Rivera, who chairs the School Committee, suggested he was “badgering” Riley and cut him off.“Your question was asked and answered,” Rivera said. 
“No, it wasn't answered, actually,” Blatchford responded.
“Sometimes that happens,” Rivera said. “I'm not going to sit here and let you get into a badgering match with the superintendent.”
“It's not a badgering match, it's literally a question,” Blatchford said. “It's disgusting that you think (Riley's response) is an OK answer.”
I've seen what it is that the Lawrence School Committee gets for budgetary information, and their PowerPoint--which is ALL that they get--doesn't contain even as much information as our PowerPoints in Worcester have (and that is far from all we get).
When the state took over the Lawrence Public Schools, the School Committee lost legal fiscal oversight. What they and the city of Lawrence didn't lose--and, I'd argue, can never lose--is public accountability. They, and we (as Lawrence, like Worcester, is majority state-funded) are owed specific information about how public funds are being used within the system.
That is a responsibility that cannot be "delegated." The state should call the receiver to account on this.

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