Lindbergh Schools begins budget-reduction process

Lindbergh Schools last week embarked on perhaps its most challenging test in 20 years.

Roughly 80 participants assembled Jan. 14 in the Anne Morrow Lindbergh Room on the high school campus to begin work on reducing the district’s budget by more than $3.9 million.

We don’t envy committee members for the work that lies ahead as Lindbergh faces some extreme financial challenges. The magnitude of the task at hand cannot be overemphasized.

Superintendent Jim Simpson told participants Jan. 14, “… This is the most important committee in 20 years. You’ve been carefully selected for your superior abilities and because you are great supporters of our school district and that you represent many different demographics. We wanted this to be very much a collegial thing, a transparent thing … All these things come together and they come together because we will get through this. Like everything else, we will get through this rocky, hard journey we’re on and it will rebound. Our tax base will come back up at some point in time …”

Eight committees have been established — elementary school, middle school, high school, central office, special programs, facilities operations, self-sustaining programs and extra duty. The chairs and co-chairs of the eight committees will comprise a general task force that will provide oversight in making final recommendations to the school board.

While some of the cuts that lie ahead are sure to be painful, we believe the budget-reduction process outlined by Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane will ensure the Lindbergh tradition of outstanding academic success by students. In their remarks to participants, both Dr. Simpson and Mr. Lanane were emphatic that protecting student achievement is paramount.

Committee members are open to suggestions about potential cuts. As Mr. Lanane said, “… All suggested reductions will be evaluated. There are no stupid ideas …”

Suggestions for potential cuts can be e-mailed to the chief financial officer at planane@lindberghschools.ws.

Lindbergh’s fiscal tradition for many years has been to take only what’s needed. In fact, from the 1994-1995 school year through the 2004-2005 school year, the district voluntarily rolled back its tax rate, leaving more than $30 million in taxes uncollected.

Given that history of exemplary fiscal stewardship, we’re confident committee members, administrators and board members are up to the challenge posed by the current budget crisis.