In a round-table meeting just two days ago, Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez said Pre-K would have to be put on hold and DOE might have to push back the school year because of a budgetary shortfall.
However, the Governor is telling him to commit to the Pre-K program by the start of the next school year and reevaluate his calculation on how much funds DOE is actually receiving because “something is not adding up”.
Calvo says, “We were taken a little bit by surprise. I’ve instructed our fiscal team to come close to Jon’s fiscal team so we don’t have a misunderstanding because this is important for us. Education is our top priority and our administration has sacrificed in other areas to ensure they get their proper allotments.”
During the meeting, Fernandez said he’s strapped because of a shortfall resulting from an over projection of property taxes and because about $15.4 million is being held in reserve. However, Calvo explains there is only $6.6 million in the reserve and that the other $9 million was delayed by DOE because they were unable to schedule for allocation at the start of FY 2015.
According to a release from the Governor’s Office, Calvo questions how DOE could push back the start of the school year and suspend a scholastic program like DOE, but yet pursue construction of non-academic facilities that costs millions.
Calvo says, “Our administration was criticized by the acquisition for the Tiyan purchase and improvements. These are all the direction by the DOE Superintendent and by the way, they believe these are important initiatives such as the central offices, athletic fields for Tiyan, the gym, we were supportive of this as well.”
The governor however gives DOE the benefit of the doubt and believes DOE would not sacrifice its operational integrity. In the letter, Governor Calvo says there must be an error somewhere in either the reporting or understanding of the fiscal situation, but he wants to continue to work closely together.
He says, “Hopefully whether they reconcile their books or if we could sit down and talk about new adjusted spending policies for DOE then we can get more clarity in this but I highly encourage the superintendent to continue on the course when it comes to Pre-K education for our kids.”