Leadership spending prompts concerns from students

By Dana Borunda, staff writer and Rebecca Almendra, staff writer

Some students in the Associated Student Body class, better known as Leadership, have been concerned this year with the amount and process of spending. Although some concerns can be legitimately attributed to kinks in organization or communication, most of the others can be explained by change in advisers and also what may just be a reaction to the levels of spending required to return to a pre-pandemic level of event planning.

Leadership is in charge of school spirit events such as dances, rallies, and football game themes. Its budget does not come from the school’s budget money; rather, Leadership raises its own funds through ASB cards, merchandise, donations, dance tickets, and other sources. Leadership students are currently pondering if there will be enough money for the year, not only because of the amount of money spent but also the manner and pace in which it is being spent.

“I want to start using BAND again.” Timothy Liu

As far as organizational issues go, some student leaders are apprehensive about purchase approvals. Senior Timothy Liu, ASB President, explained that “in order to take money out of the account, everyone has to vote and it has to be a majority vote to approve the spending. You can either vote and then buy or buy before you get the vote, but if you buy before, and they don’t get majority vote, we [can] decide to not reimburse them.” However, Liu said he has “never been in a situation where we [ASB] do not vote to reimburse.” A recent increase in purchasing before voting, though, has become a source of worry for him.

Senior Jai Gray, ASB vice president, corroborated this as he said his “primary concern” is that “money is often spent first, then asked for but [he] feels like it should obviously be in the opposite order.” Senior Ally Strunk, ASB secretary, agreed, saying that previously, “We had an app called BAND where not a single cent was spent that we did not know about or approve beforehand…a survey was sent out to the entire class…to get majority approval.” Part of the change in not using BAND anymore is due to the change in ASB advisers. Teachers Natasha Deakins and Trevor Brady are the new class advisers for this year, both returning to the role after several years away. 

The previous adviser was Scott Wallach, another teacher at Carrillo. “We did the voting on purchase approvals on BAND because it seemed the most efficient… it would’ve been difficult to have every Leadership kid be in a meeting every single week,” he said. Now, Liu holds in-person spending approval votes each Wednesday. “I want to start using BAND again…it’s just that Deakins and Brady are new and just don’t know how to do it yet,” Liu explained.

“I’m pushing hard to spend as much of the money as we can because [of] that philosophy…you don’t want to pay your thirty five dollars and they don’t get around to spending that until three years later.” – Natasha Deakins

Moving on from organizational issues, the actual sum of money at Leadership’s disposal is around $45,000, according to Deakins, a stable sum for student government and Leadership class. “I appreciate the concern for student body money, and we try to impart that concern because it is the students’ money,” Brady said. He added that Leadership “can show we have proof of what we’re spending on.” In addition to a reported high amount of ASB card sales, notably the most Brady says he has seen in his time at Carrillo, this year’s ASB started off with a surplus amount of money from last year–money that was not spent because of COVID. Deakins also responded to concern about money lasting, saying “That’s why you have treasurers and secretaries that can make budgets.” Brady added the example of the Homecoming dance and football game saying that in their preparation, Leadership was “being very diligent about what our budget is, what are we setting ticket prices to be, all to try and make sure that we don’t have any losses.” Additionally, he stated that “Mrs. Deakins and I have had experience before as Leadership teachers…so we have a good idea about [running] it.”

Spending itself has increased due to a new philosophy in Leadership of “going big,” partly spurred on by the new advisers, which represents an effort to bounce back and promote spirit after COVID. Senior Joy Maitiro, Senior Class President, said “Our theme this year is to go big, and we’re definitely doing that.” As far as how this relates to spending, Gray expressed what he believes to be “the new 2022 motto” is that “you need to spend money to make money.” Liu affirms that he has seen this sentiment echoed by adviser Deakins.

“When ASB money is generated by each year, by each class, that money should and needs to be spent on the class that participated,” said Deakins. “I’m pushing hard to spend as much of the money as we can because [of] that philosophy…you don’t want to pay your thirty five dollars and they don’t get around to spending that until three years later,” she explained.

The reasoning was to go big for the first [spirit day] and that way we set a momentum, which I think is reasonable. It’s not reasonable if we keep going in that style, which we haven’t been.” – Timothy Liu

Although this philosophy seems to feel like a change to most Leadership students, they attest to the fact that it is effective in uplifting the student body. “We spend money to increase spirit and even though we spend a lot and it’s scary to see, especially with events like Homecoming coming up, it’s working,” Gray said. The philosophy also comes from wanting to give students what they missed out on due to the pandemic. “A lot [of spending] is driven by the fact that we’re not under the pandemic restrictions. So, basically for the last two years ASB funds have been kind of crippled by not being able to do stuff,” Deakins said.

An early example of these two motivations merging but at the same time raising students’ concerns about spending was Tropical Thursday back in August; students questioned the spending of a couple hundred dollars on a mere spirit day. “A lot of people have been saying we have been spending a lot of money on things that are on the smaller side,” Liu confirmed. However, he said, “The reasoning was to go big for the first [spirit day] and that way we set a momentum, which I think is reasonable. It’s not reasonable if we keep going in that style, which we haven’t been.”

For the most part, the COVID-19 pandemic affected the ability of Leadership to expand its full potential. For example, because previously in the pandemic there had been so many restrictions around food, now “if we can pass out Otter Pops and things like that, we will,” said Deakins. With an entire year online, and the other year with obstacles of COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, putting out carefully crafted events was difficult and nearly impossible. Attendance at events was also minimal as inconsistent patterns of COVID-19 cases rising and declining prevented full-capacity stadiums and theaters. “Now any amount of spending seems like a hefty amount, but I think maybe that’s in part because we put a lot of emphasis and focus on some of the first events so it might give that impression,” Brady said. 

Ultimately Leadership’s mission on spending can be summed up as Brady said: “The goal is not necessarily to spend money or make money but to figure out how we get as many students involved and connected. We do budget everything, and we are aware if we are spending and not getting that money in, then that creates problems down the line.”

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