Data: District releases Measure A spending list

Data: District releases Measure A spending list

Michele Ellson

Alameda schools officials have offered a fresh accounting of the district’s Measure A spending, releasing a list of purchase orders and another detailing staff-related spending of parcel tax dollars in response to a public records request from The Alamedan.

The district released an eight-page list of payments to vendors offering a variety of supplies and services, along with a 19-page list detailing salary and benefit payments to teachers and other staff covered under the measure. The release concludes with a two-page “roll-up” document summarizing the spending detailed in the two lists.

Rob Siltanen, the district administrator charged with overseeing spending of the seven-year, $12-million-a-year tax, said the release included raw data in the district’s system and that work to refine it and to provide greater detail on how the tax money was spent is underway. The numbers detail tax spending through June 9; the district’s fiscal year ended June 30.

The Alamedan requested the information in an effort to provide the public more details about how their parcel tax dollars have been spent. The site will publish any additional details that become available, either at the behest of the district, its parcel tax oversight committee or through further public records requests.

The district’s books for the 2011-2012 school year are slated to close in September, and a report from the oversight committee detailing whether the parcel tax funds were spent as voters who approved the tax intended is expected sometime in the fall.

As of June 9, the district had spent nearly $9 million of the close to $12.2 million in parcel taxes expected to be generated this year, with another $3 million due to be spent on services already rendered as of that date. That leaves $173,146.18 in reserve, the accounting shows, though an earlier report to the board shows that the district expects to take in $103,300 less than the parcel tax take originally budgeted for.

All told, the district expects to spend $10.5 million on salaries and benefits for teachers and other district staff for this school year, the accounting showed, with nearly $8 million of that paid out as of June 9. Siltanen said some of the parcel tax money is being used to cover the cost of erasing furlough days for every teacher in the district along with the cost of maintaining class sizes in kindergarten through third grade at 25 students per teacher.

Additional funds detailed in the accounting paid 90 percent of the cost of maintaining a principal, health aide, office clerk and custodian at Washington, Franklin and Otis, the three elementary schools slated for closure if the tax plan was rejected by voters. It also detailed salary and benefit expenditures for physical education and music teachers, librarians and counselors and technology staff, all providing services authorized for funding under the tax plan. It also covered some of the cost of two district workers – himself and a district accountant – charged with providing oversight over parcel tax spending.

The district was also on track to spend nearly $1 million on supplies, services and transfers, with $355,199.99 of that amount allocated to Alameda’s four charter schools based on the number of Alameda students each services. The allocations are treated as block grants that the charters’ leaders may spend however they wish, though Siltanen said each provided a budget detailing their spending to the district.

Spending on supplies and services included $218,814 on Inquiry by Design, a professional development and curriculum program for English Language Arts, and another $105,758 paid to a pair of school districts supporting the district’s math initiative. An additional $32,904.10 was paid to implement the University of Kansas’ Strategic Instruction Model, a professional development program.

The accounting also included tens of thousands of dollars in purchase orders for a flurry of technology-related expenses, to more than a dozen vendors who offer everything from web-based workbooks and teaching tools to basic computer accessories and smart boards, information technology infrastructure and management. But it did not detail what items the district purchased from the vendors or which schools obtained those items.

Siltanen did offer details about one expenditure – $20,286.25 to Apple Computer – noted by a reporter who asked questions about the lists. That money paid for equipment for a computer lab at Alameda High School including “iPads, cart for iPads, Mac printer, Mac iPad Software vouchers, and MacBook Air,” he said in an e-mail following up on a reporter’s questions.

In addition to the curricular and technology spending, the district’s tax accounting also listed more than $23,000 in purchases for school athletics, including $5,000 to Riddell, which makes football equipment, and another $4,018.13 to Soccer Post, which sells soccer equipment.

The accounting also included nearly $2,635 budgeted and spent for travel and conferences and a handful of credit card purchases for items that weren’t specifically spelled out, though when asked by a reporter, Siltanen said that two credit card purchases – one for $100 and one for $374.40 – paid for translation services for an application for prospective Measure A oversight committee members and a parcel tax lookup tool posted to the district’s website.

The accounting also listed a separate $480,000 transfer that Siltanen confirmed went to the district’s adult school, though specific expenditures weren’t detailed in the accounting.

In May, Siltanen offered the Board of Education a more general breakdown of parcel tax spending showing the dollar amount allocated to each allowed item and how much had been spent as of January 31. At that point the district had spent close to half of the $3.12 million allocated to maintain teachers’ existing salary schedule and about half of the $1.56 million budgeted to keep K-3 class sizes at 25 students per teacher, for example.

ACCOUNTING TERMINOLOGY

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the terminology the district used in an accounting of parcel tax expenditures released in response to a public records request from The Alamedan.

Budget: Amount budgeted under Measure A.

Encumbrance: Amount of budgeted funds to be spent for services already rendered.

Actuals: Amount of budgeted funds spent.

Blanket purchase order (type): An order the customer makes with its supplier which contains multiple delivery dates scheduled over a period of time.

Comments

Submitted by Kristen Hanlon on Tue, Jul 10, 2012

Thanks for posting this. It's useful to see where the money is going. So far, so good. I do worry about what happens when this measure sunsets, though. It's not like Sacramento is inclined to fill the gap.

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