As I said from my earlier live blogging attempt, there were a large number of handouts. I could not believe the district handed these out, in no order, not numbered or coded so you could follow along. If I were on the Board, I would find this pretty unacceptable. A couple of Board members said they wanted to see the money coming in AND where it goes. Michael stressed again and again, the need for transparency and consistency between what is said to the Board and what gets published to the community. Kay Smith-Blum, as a business owner, is used to see budget spreadsheets and I think she was kind of surprised at how all over the place the documents were. (Again, one of those times when you say "Is this by design or incompetency because this just isn't a coherent way to walk a group through a complex budget.") Note: I left before the meeting was over so this is not the complete discussion. I stayed for 2 hours.
Two of the most interesting handouts were (1) Revenue Survey and (2) School Look-Up. The Revenue Survey was a survey the district took of 20 Puget Sound districts and their spending for meal prices, Pay for Play and full day kindergarten. The School Look-Up is just interesting because it has all the SPS schools, enrollment, budget and cost per student. Very eye-opening.
I need Meg Diaz (or somebody) because I cannot read all these budget sheets and understand all the ramifications or even what they mean (what is ARRA IDEA?). Some of this balances on whether the Governor's Book 2 or the House or Senate budget get passed. (It seems the House budget is more favorable to education.) I also need Meg because they talked about central administration reductions and some of it seemed like voodoo to me.
It looks like the district has a nearly $25m gap to fill. There is a "structural gap" of $17.6M. STEM needs another $180K. NSAP needs almost a $1M. the Strategic Core Work needs almost $5M (for what? I don't know) and Academic Assurances, $788k. So some of the solutions are on page 11; cuts to central staff, reductions in WSS, shifts to grants, reduced "extra time" (is that overtime?), increased revenue, etc. A lot of these cuts would come in 2011.
They have a lot of ideas to trim the budget. In fact so many I'm not sure which lists are the ones they want to truly work from. But here are some ideas:
- class sizes up. For primary a minimum of 19 to a max of 27.9 (for primary!). intermediate: from 18.7 min to 31.0 max. For middle school (core only): 20.1 min, 29.8 max and for high school (core only): 18 min and 26.7 max. (No, I don't know why the levels are higher for middle school than high school.)
- at the back of the presentation there seemed to be a discussion of kindergarten. I don't know if they ended up getting to it. What is says is that they want to support equity across SPS, make full-day K as low cost as they can afford, allow schools to offer "enhanced" programs and "support focus on the classroom by minimizing the administrative load on schools". That last one is a little worrying because they mean having central administration take over. It might mean some loss of autonomy for schools but I don't know for sure. They have, on page 25, a couple of ideas. It's things like no tuition for 55% poverty schools (Title one funds will be used.), no tuition continues for F/RL eligible students and $207 monthly tuition at schools below the 55% poverty level.
- eliminate elementary counselors
- reduce HS academic intervention specialists by .5
- eliminate core cert .5 allocation for middle
- eliminate core cert .5 allocation for 3 K-8s
- eliminate core cert .5 allocation for 3 biggest elementaries
- increase HS non-core funding ratio: 1 @ 35
- increase MS non-core funding ratio: 2@32
- increase funding ratio for grade 4 by 2
- eliminate planned zone crew - (This is for the general maintenance that I have gone on and one about. The thing here that makes no sense is that this money doesn't exist because we haven't had zone crews in years. So cut it but the source of this money - nearly $1M - was never identified so I don't know how you can cut it.)
- eliminate...athletics (almost $2M)
- eliminate...elementary instrumental music
- WSS FDK funding
- reduced transportation