Matt Kormann - Place 6
Apr 17, 2013 05:00PM
● By tina
Matt Kormann for Place 6, CISD Board of Trustees
Part one of a two part series.
Q: Each candidate in this year’s campaign has promised fiscal restraint to taxpayers. What specific actions or proposals do you recommend to balance the budget and maintain fiscal responsibility?
A: Matt Kormann – First, new revenue sources must be identified. Unique on-campus or central-administration-based revenue generators must also be considered, with community input and collaboration. Healthy food and beverage outlets on campuses that teach work skills to our high school students as well as feeding revenue into our operations budget would be just one way to help. Bringing pay-for-use services like official photography and videography in-house as a revenue generator is another. A voluntary check-writing campaign has been talked about, specifically by the group who opposed the TRE in the fall, but no action has been taken. The board, by law, cannot take that action. It’s up to the community. Such an effort has proven very successful in other Robin Hood districts and enables contribution from those who are motivated to give without having to give.
I will not advocate for unwarranted tax increases at any time. I am opposed to treating taxpayer’s hard earned dollars as a quick and easy solution. I will fully investigate all opportunities for cost savings, cost sharing, budget reductions and revenue expansion. My expectation is that the district utilize all the means at its disposal to provide continued outstanding educational opportunities in the most fiscally responsible and efficient manner possible. Our funding model will change in the next two years, either from legislative action, court mandate, or both, and we currently have very little idea as to what that new model will look like. History tells us it won’t be favorable to CISD, but I am committed to actively engaging the legislature and the courts to ensure that our voice is heard. I believe it is irresponsible to consider limited options in the care and education of our kids. I will always have an open mind when looking at ways in which to fund our schools. My opponent has committed to never, under any circumstances, allowing the citizens of CISD to determine whether or not they would like flexibility in funding options that include the potential use of tax revenues that are free from Robin Hood. Our community is highly educated and involved, and I will always respect their voice in the process.
To anyone who has spent a lot of time studying CISD expenses, it’s clear that Dr. Faltys and his staff are running an incredibly lean organization. So additional funding reductions are incredibly rare. So in that area, for me, it’s more about being truer to the actual needs and budget than the board has allowed itself to be. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, there must be contingencies written into the budget. However, the times have changed, and that requires those contingencies be reduced and more in line with the reality of today. This action alone will enable greater transparency to the overall budget and CISD’s bottom line. Any additional expense reductions should be at the recommendation of the administration, in collaboration with the board. My experience managing a similarly-sized budget with an uncertain revenue stream makes me uniquely qualified to tackle this problem.
Q: Protect the Tradition is at the very heart of this school district. What does the phrase mean to you and exactly how do you intend to fulfill that commitment if elected?
A: Matt Kormann – We’ve been fortunate in CISD to have traditions of excellence across academics, the arts, and athletics. In more recent years, we’ve had a tradition of fiscal excellence as well. Our fund balance has grown from virtually nothing to $35M in the last decade, and our operations budget has leaned up to meet the turbulent funding model dictated by Austin.
But it’s not simply about maintaining that excellence, it’s about improving upon it. Our community has had to deal with terrible tragedy this year. And while it’s first and foremost a parent’s responsibility to build strong kids, our kids spend more time in school and extracurricular activities than they spend anywhere else. So we have an obligation to do a better job building young leaders while they’re in our care. We can do this, at every grade level, and in age-appropriate fashion, and help avoid some of these tragedies in the future.
Fiscally, we must fully investigate every reasonable and appropriate efficiency available to us. From identifying unique new revenue sources, to continuing the board and administration’s current initiative, to reduce spending, every option must be on the table. But we should select those options in collaboration with parents and taxpayers as well as surrounding community leaders when appropriate.