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MAC considers caps on school spending

By Blair Yankey - byankey@perutribune.com

How best to tighten school spending guidelines was the main topic of a work session held on Tuesday night by the Maconaquah Board of School Trustees.

Superintendent Doug Arnold said at the last board meeting, it was suggested by the trustees that the district modifies one of its board policies, and in turn, that would help them protect their finances.

“Members of the board have looked at the issue of how (administrators) are spending money on buying supplies, equipment, etc.,” he said. “So, the recommendation was that we put a closer cap on the amount of money we – meaning the treasurer, director of maintenance, and building principals are able to approve spending between board meetings, which would ultimately be approved by the trustees.”

Currently, the purchasing policy states that the purchasing agent – superintendent treasurer and assistant superintendent – may make open-market purchases of no more than $25,000 for a single item or group of items without the board’s approval.

However, Arnold said the board believes it would best serve the district better for the administrators to more closely scrutinize their purchases if they lower the amount.

“The conversation was to change the language in the purchasing policy,” Arnold said. “One way we’re trying to save money in our general fund is we have a cap of 60 percent of expenditures in our buildings, so every principal gets a supply line of so many dollars every year.

“Because money is so tight, we told them they’re given a budget of $50,000 and that they need to put a cap on that budget and not spend any more than 60 percent of that amount.

One of the board’s primary responsibilities is to approve expenditures, Arnold said, along with personnel and board policies. Arnold said the board felt by tightening up the purchasing policy it would help the administrators. 

“One thing I think we need to do a better job at is communicating with the board regarding the way we spend,” Arnold said. “Because ultimately, the board is accountable to the tax payer, and I’m accountable to the board, so I want to make sure we’re doing a better job at explaining to the board what we’re deciding to spend money on.”

The board will take a vote to alter the language in the purchasing policy at its Aug. 23 meeting.