Friday, July 25, 2008

Budget Basics: Percent of What?

This morning's school-district budget story gives readers a laundry list of cost reductions undertaken by the DeSoto School Board in order to balance a budget that will be receiving less state funding for the next school year.

Unfortunately, it's impossible for readers to gauge the impact of the cuts because the reporter won't tell readers the size of the overall, proposed budget and she doesn't report the size of the state allocation that's being reduced.

Taking $2 million from a $6-million budget is a whopping 33 percent hit. Taking $2 million from a $60-million budget is a more manageable 3-percent belt tightening. Taking $2 million from a $600-million budget is a minuscule 0.3-percent shave. So which is it, dear reporter? She's not telling.

Readers who want the facts have to make a phone call to the district. There, they can learn DeSoto had anticipated income of about $40 million, of which $27 million would have come from state funds, the largest income category in its estimated $60-million budget.

Old World Wolf made a phone call to clarify a story; why didn't the paid reporter, who has attained the status of "editor," do the same before she hit the send key?

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