The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
The reality of school finances is hard to understand unless you’re experiencing it on a personal level. For example, I would have had a hard time believing that — given TUSD’s over $500 million budget — schools run out of money for basic supplies they need to function. That was before I was cutting checks for toilet paper as the treasurer of my daughter’s PTA.
When I volunteered two years ago to serve as a parent member of the TUSD Audit Committee, I entered a whole new world of school finance. Most of the other members are accountants, and monthly meetings are attended by our district’s attorney, finance team leadership, our governing board liaison and others. Sometimes there are members of the public, as TUSD Audit Committee meetings are subject to open meetings law requirements.
I’ve learned a lot about our district during the last two years as a member of our audit committee. The numbered codes that categorize every expense made by TUSD. How grant cycles and property tax infusions affect cash flows. The role of county government in our budget and finances. Ratios of students to funding for custodial supplies, social workers and assistant principals.
I’ve also experienced a lot of frustration trying to better understand how our district spends money. There are times when I felt that 2+2 on one page didn’t equal 4 on a corresponding page and didn’t feel I received a response as to why I (or others on the committee) truly understood.