Although Brookfield Board of Education was released from fiscal emergency on Friday, which restored to the board of education a level of autonomy it has not had for five years, officials will not be trying to make up for lost time, said board President Kelly Carrier.
“I don’t think it will be that much different,” Carrier said of how the board will function post-release. “I think we’ve learned a lot through the process. We’ve been challenged to think a little differently through this process. Going forward, we’ll just behave in a similar way, although not with Big Brother looking over our shoulders.”
The process has put the district into a position where officials can start thinking about what kind of education they want to offer, and examine how to get there, she said.
“Certainly, we’re in a better position financially,” Carrier said. “We have cash reserves, we’re operating at a surplus, so I think we’ll be looking at what our options are with regard to being able to be a little more flexible.”
The Brookfield Local School District Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, which was created to oversee the district’s finances while under fiscal emergency, held its last meeting Friday and disbanded. The move follows a five-year forecast, delivered in February, that showed the district will end each of the next five years in the black, based on current expenses.
The district cut staff and programs, reduced some full-time staff to part-time, and held off on some purchases.
Auditor of State Dave Yost, who attended the meeting, congratulated the school board and Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor for making tough decisions.
“Nobody likes to do that,” Yost said. “We get into public service to do good things for good people and the last thing any of us really prefers to do is cause pain, and cutting always creates pain.”
While Yost said that causing pain is “in the past,” he warned the board to watch expenses carefully.
“The earlier you make adjustments, when bad times come, the better,” he said. “The truth is, there will be tight times in the years ahead.”
Carrier said the five years of imposed fiscal restraint has not dampened her enthusiasm in wanting to “spark the flame of curiosity in our community’s youth” and “free our students from the prison of poverty.”
“We will take the lessons we’ve learned through this process to remain fiscally responsible and ensure our continued and successful pursuit of the ultimate noble mission of delivering the highest quality education possible to the deserving students of this community,” Carrier said.