I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The “Thursday Morning Money Grab”

No, it’s not a catchy and fun song like “Tuesday Night Music Club” by Sheryl Crow.  And no, there was nothing warm and fuzzy about it.  Nope, as it turns out it was just a Thursday morning email blast (see the email below) that sent shockwaves through schools and colleges statewide.   And we found out about it today at this morning’s regular workshop of the Escambia County School Board.

As is usually the case at our meetings, several interesting topics were discussed. Today, however, this unusual and troubling bit of information about this money freeze was passed along to School Board members by Terry St Cyr, Assistant Superintendent for Finance.
Our School District, along with every other school district and college and university in the state, received this email Thursday morning, a very matter-of-fact memo---- just essentially freezing hundreds of millions of dollars statewide—that’s all.   Just a hundreds of $millions.
Yes, every college and school district in the state has suddenly and inexplicably had their Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) budgets frozen.  What this means is essentially that any monies

allocated to any district or college that has not been officially encumbered is now frozen until further notice.   If a project has not been approved (by DOE), then any money planned for such an unapproved project is frozen.
In our district, we have not received any PECO funding from the state in the last two years.  Our remaining PECO funds total roughly $500K (which we utilize to fund salaries for our maintenance crews) this money, that remains from earlier FY allocations, is now officially frozen like an ice sculpture and cannot be used “until further notice”. 
For Escambia County, this will amount to nothing more than an inconvenience—for some districts this will bring projects to a screeching halt and will be a tremendous setback.
All in all we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars potentially that are now officially frozen solid, inexplicably, with very little notice, very little fanfare, and zero media coverage.
Maybe this money is being raided to fill some other educational funding shortfall?  Who knows?
But hey, a little notice would have been nice so that the funds could have been allocated, but I suppose that would have defeated the purpose of this money-grab.  I mean, you wouldn’t splash the water before you cast the net for fish, right?
Interesting, this money grab, but disconcerting at the same time.

1 comment:

Jeff Bergosh said...

UPDATE--After speaking with Superintendent Thomas on Saturday about this issue, I've been told that our allocation of PECO funds remaining from previous Fiscal Years (approximately $500K) has been 100% encumbered meaning this spending Freeze will not affect Escambia County Schools at all. Other disticts that have not fully encumbered their PECO funds will be impacted, and this will acutely affect community colleges and universities as most K12 districts have seen signigicant cuts in their PECO budgets over the last few years