Monday, August 31, 2009

IPS Board Approves Budget, Fails To Demand Details From Commissioner Eugene White

Last Friday, the Indianapolis Star reported that Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White presented the budget to the IPS School Board using summaries instead of providing details. Board member Kelly Bentley objected saying that White should have provided a detailed budget to the Board. The budget ended up passing 6-1, with Bentley being the lone dissenter.

The Star article contained this little nugget:

Board member Marianna R.Board member Marianna R. Zaphiriou told Bentley that she felt her request -- and the suggestion that other board members weren't
asking enough questions -- was wrongheaded.

"Part of that implication is that some of us should feel uncomfortable, and we don't," she said. "I have no reason to want that level of information. I don't feel the need to request that information."

Superintendent Eugene White told Bentley she was welcome to make an appointment and go line by line through the budget with district finance officials. But he said he wouldn't waste the board's time by giving them the entire budget to review.

"We have not and we don't intend to give you the specificity of each of those items," White said. "It would be too prohibitive for you to go through that.... We're not going to bring that to you. We're asking you to approve the budget, and to go any deeper than that would take a lot of your time and be ridiculous."

One wonders what is worse - Board Member Zaphiriou's refusal to do her job as a public official or Commissioner White's arrogance. But actually there is something worse - the collective failure of the IPS Board to demand details before voting to approve a budget. Those who voted that way should be voted out at the next election for not doing their jobs as elected officials.

Unfortunately the failure of IPS Board members to do their job is not something that is confined to that august body. Rather you also see it with the Indianapolis City-County Council. Councilors too often do not seem to want to ask tough questions or demand details. Once Republican at-large councilor, Ed Coleman, started asking questions about the Capital Improvement Board, and instead of being praised for doing his job as a councilor, he became a target. Coleman felt so much pressure that he left the Republican Party to become a Libertarian.

This is the budget season. Numerous committee meetings are being held at which various aspect of the administration's 2010 budget is being discussed. Councilors need to be asking tough questions and demanding details. Doing so is not a partisan thing. It's part of doing one's job as an elected official.


Note: Over at Indiana Barrister, Abdul is dueling it out with IPS Superintendent Eugene White. Kudos to Abdul for asking for issuing a public records request for details of the IPS budget. It is a shame that it takes a member of the media to make a request that every member of the board should have demanded before voting to approve the budget.


Patriot Paul said...

White said. "It would be too prohibitive for you to go through that.... We're not going to bring that to you." This is unbelievable. Apparently, Congress who is faulted for passing bills without reading them has competition. Arrogance is a good word to use along with failure of transparency. But to actually deny a member of the nuts and bolts of a budget and by dictating for other members how best to use their time sounds like the high & mighty attitude problem that surpasses the mentality of the Washington Township Board, if that's possible. These small time mentally challenged dictators need removed. 'Make an appt."? You've got to be kidding.

Jon said...

Someone pull the contract for Dr. White, all of it, and you will see just what high and mighty means.

Robert - NW Side said...

"Those who voted that way should be voted out at the next election for not doing their jobs as elected officials."
Therein lies the problem. Why can't We the Masters remove these reprobates without waiting for the polls? When did we abdicate this power?

jabberdoodle said...

The Indiana School Boards Association will likely award IPS' Board the 'School Board of the Year' award for not 'micromanaging'. Anyone who thinks that the school boards are doing good work should be forced to sit through 3 whole meetings and see how they are led by the nose by the Superintendents. And, they should have to actually look at the lack of improvement in the schools over the tenure of their Superintendent.

Jon said...

For the lawyers out there here is a tidbit, if I remember correctly, IPS is the only school district in the state that can recall it's board members.
One of those arcane laws tied to a first class city in Indiana.