Thursday, December 19, 2013

How a legendary wizard is assisting Rec&Ed’s budget journey

Guest blogger Sally Sears, Lifelong Learning Coordinator
Sally Searls

Imagine my surprise when Gandalf the Grey, the famous wizard from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings walked into our staff meeting on Tuesday! Soon I noticed that he was on the shorter side, the beard looked a little fake and – wait a second – his robe looked suspiciously like a bathrobe. As soon as “he” started talking I realized it was our Executive Director, Jenna Bacolor.

"Today we will measure progress on our Unexpected Budget Journey,” Gandalf said. Last June, Rec&Ed staff embarked on a Hobbit-like quest for gold. For Rec&Ed, this meant ensuring our financial viability so we can keep serving the community with high quality, affordable recreational and enrichment programs, including scholarships for those in need.

Jenna                                Gandalf
To me, this means improving many of our budgeting procedures so that we can serve the community more effectively.

Using his staff as a pointer, Gandalf led us through a presentation describing the steps our department has completed and how far we have left to go. Since June we have traveled through a forest of budget numbers and a mountain of new purchasing procedures alongside a lake of “transparency” water. We are approaching the swamp of strategic planning and facing the learning curve of using new software. 

My part of this journey has involved joining our new Rec&Ed Budget Team and receiving training on new ways to track our expenditures. This team monitors the current data using "actuals" and envisions the future based on our mission and values as our guide. I am so glad that we are more deliberately connecting our mission and values with our decisions. I believe that Rec&Ed is moving in the right direction for reaching our "gold." 

As I was wondering whether I really wanted to be on this journey (just like Bilbo Baggins!)
Gandalf reminded us that we have weathered changes before. We know from community surveys, as well as our own participant surveys, that the Ann Arbor community wants us to continue providing enrichment and recreational opportunities at an affordable price.

For you, as a Rec&Ed participant, these behind-the-scenes budget improvements will result in our keeping class, camp and other program prices as low as possible. It also means continuing and possibly expanding our scholarship opportunities. 

At the end of the presentation, Gandalf reminded us that organizational changes take: 

“Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure.”  
                                           -- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

I think we at Rec&Ed are up for it!

Sally Searls' career with Ann Arbor Public Schools began in 1984 when she worked for Dr. Potts in the Equity Office at Balas. For eight years, she served as Community Education Coordinator at Scarlett Middle School for Scarlett and its feeder elementary schools. In 1992 she became Rec&Ed’s Lifelong Learning Coordinator, overseeing all of Rec&Ed's youth and adult enrichment classes and summer camps. She particularly loves visiting classes and camps to see children enjoying our programs and making friends.  

No comments:

Post a Comment