Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's Your Budgeting Question?

I am going to attend the Seattle Council PTSA meeting tonight that features Dr. Enfield and our new CFO, Robert Boesche.   They will be answering school budgeting questions.  I want to say something to Mr. Boesche but I don't have a burning budgeting question.

Throw out some to me and I'll try to ask as many as I can tonight.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't understand where they get the numbers for their projections. View Ridge currently has 577 students and the budget for next year is based on 553 students. Could you please ask him how he can explain the discrepancy?
Thanks!
VR parent

another mom said...

Perhaps you already have asked this questionand know the answer but I will pose it anyway.Has the interim CFO read Moss Adams?

Anonymous said...

Can we have our elementary counselors back? Can one be

A mom

Anonymous said...

Previous comment was cut off -

Can we share a counselor between a group of schools?

A mom

Kathy said...

1. The June 2010 State Auditor's report stated public assets are at risk due to lack of effective policies and oversight. Then, to prove the State Auditor correct, we had the Silas Potter scandal. As a public, we have no assurances public assets are safeguarded. How about a forensic audit?

2. Just received word our school can no longer use a teaching position to provide us with a half time math specialist. Reasons stated are due to budget changes, teacher contract and budget changes. Please explain.

3. Why are we cutting essential services (I believe elementary school counselors to be essentail) while paying for district employees gas? Can we stop buying gas for district bureaucrats and keep dollars in our classrooms?

4. The district has shown an incredible disregard for tax payer dollars i.e. using Title 1 funds for bagels. What assurances do we have dollars will be used wisely? I"m not seeing it.

5. The district will publically reveal the budget. The NEXT day, the district will hear comments. How about giving the public more time to respond to the budget?

Kathy said...

Can we have a forensic audit of the personal service contracts?

In the past 14 months, the district paid the Alliance for Education $210K in personal service contracts. Why?

Why are we paying Alliance for Ed. $210K while eliminating classroom services?

Do we have an ex-principal working in a clerical position at JSS, while collecting principal pay?

Anonymous said...

Why are they shortchanging children with disabilities yet again?

A parent

joanna said...

During Kay Smith-Blums Community meeting renegotiating the contract for MAP was brought forth as a possibility. Could this save some money? Questions about why the District does not use the classroom based assessment from the state which is either free or much less expensive were also asked. Part of the answer from Kay was that the District has a contract with MAP that has be honored, But, maybe it can be renegotiated. And then I am a little confused by the absolute need for the science coaches. It seems like when the science kits were purchased needed support should have been a part of the deal. Middle school and high school teachers have science backgrounds. Kay defended the need for science coaches at 4th and 5th grade level. I suppose that I am feeling that there should be staff development for science and the kits, but beyond that I am just not sure about full-time coaches.

It would be interesting to see a list of all contracts in place for services with the District. I guess when they hired 360 degrees it seemed that, not only did the District rush into a new plan but then spent additional public money to spin it. Does 360 degrees still have a contract with the District? I respect that communications is important, but good solid information should be the focus rather than the spin. If they gave up some of the spin factor perhaps no so many communications personnel would be necessary.

I am just not sure that all are really looking at protecting the classroom from cuts.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another Mom, as Charlie posted elsewhere, it is now part of the documents to be used for the audit response. But yes, I had planned to ask Mr. Boesche to please read it as a blueprint for what needs to happen (that and the audit response materials).

Eric B said...

The MAP contract covers X number of students for up to 4 test sessions per year. The only way to reduce costs is to reduce the number of students taking the test. I'd humbly suggest removing kindergartners from the test pool and perhaps some of the more severely disabled SpEd students. Basically, the kids for whom the MAP test is more about familiarity with or ability to use a computer, not necessarily academic skills.

Charlie Mas said...

Will we be moving forward with spending $700,000 on the District web site while cutting essential services to students?

Will we be moving forward with purchasing brand-new Dell laptop computers for every student at Cleveland while cutting essential services for students?

Can we see a budget for each and every project and initiative in the Strategic Plan?

Where can we see the savings from the capacity management project?

Where can we see the savings from the past three years of transportation changes?

Anonymous said...

i have a question!
could someone explain the private schools line item in the budget, do they receive funds for specific purposes, if so, what type of service do they receive or provide?
thanks much

jpr

Central Mom said...

What happened to the private partnerships that were supposed to bolster and help pay for STEM at Cleveland? What parts of the curriculum is being cut or won't be rolled out without those partnerships?

Kathy said...

The district will release Strategic Initiative update on April 13th.

Clearly, this will impact HQ staffing.

Again, I want to see HQ allocations and budget with ample time before public comment.

On 1/26/11 the district handed out a Strategic Plan Budget Planning Tool for Fiscal year 2012. I'd like to see that updated.

I'd also like to see an updated sheet with budgets for department budgets within JSS.

joanna said...

MAP, on Saturday there was some suggestion that perhaps they could reduce it to 3 times a year, less often. Do you think the contract cannot be renegotiated in that way? None of the constituents at Saturday's meeting thought MAP was an effective test.

Cranky said...

Can we expect bureaucrats to take an across board pay reduction?

Under MGJ's reign, she increased Fred Stephens salary 50% ($100K- $150K).

Very generous. How many others got a hefty increase?

KG said...

Melissa,

Maybe you could ask Mr.Boesche why he is so impressed with Mr.Duggan Harman? A few minutes with him and we understand he does not know what his peer districts are doing as far as a FAT Central Admin. and believes we are close to the 6%. He needs to show us without putting central admin. in other line items under different names. Boesche seems naive, at least at the last Board meeting.

KG said...

Melissa,

Also you could ask Dr. Enfield how is it that she has been so diligent in cutting elementary counselors out this coming year for a savings of 2.6 million dollars and pretending that they are trying to keep cuts away from the classroom?
Especially with the massive weight of a do nothing for the student Central admin. Enfield seems to be part of the problem. She is protecting more of the same. Cutting counselors in this case could be considered abusive to children.

Central Mom said...

I'm also wondering, late this afternoon, how many children will be forced into 1/2day K because of non-payment of tuition...as well as what the cost of transporting them home will be. The cutoff for making accounts "current" was right about now...

Eric B said...

On MAP, I only know what I heard at a budget session. I'm sorry, but I don't remember the date or even whether it was a work session or a regular meeting. At any rate, a Board director asked specifically if reducing the number of MAP administrations in a year would reduce the cost. The answer back was that the contract is for a number of students and up to 4 administrations per year. The only way to reduce the cost is to reduce the number of students taking the test.

Which shows some real contracting genius on NWEA's part.

Anonymous said...

Please ask Dr. E how she intends to honor commitments made to children receiving services under the "new inclusion": ICS. Schools are funding almost no IA support and students will be forced to fail.

Concerned

Jan said...

Erio B: does that mean that SSD "picks" the number of students, at its discretion, and then the price (to MAP) is "fixed" -- whether we test once, twice, thrice, or four times?

Would it really be as easy as deleting, say, all the K-2 kids, and all kids who scored really high on last year's tests? Or, if we reduced the number to 0, we could get out of it? Or is there something in there that obligates the District to test most or all the kids in each grade, and the kid count is just for the purpose of making a minor "true up" adjustment to the total cost.

SC Parent said...

So, let's have 0 students take the test, then our MAP costs going forward would be $0.

MW, my financial question is related to the organization chart that is supposedly in the works. Can we have on that org chart, right underneath each person's name, their salary and the breakdown of their salary by budget category/grant?

It seems like that information would help move our discussion forward by eliminating the obscurity about what positions are central admin versus hidden by a "teacher" classification as well as identifying critical functions that have been "outsourced" to grant-funded positions.

This shouldn't be that hard to do, and seems to be to be good management. If they can't disclose certain people's actual salaries, then they should at least put the percentage breakdown between funding sources.

Charlie Mas said...

While I don't need to know salaries, I would definitely like to see the budget for each department and to know which budget category it is in (Teaching, Teaching Support, Administration, etc.).

Charlie Mas said...

I'd like to know what progress the District has made on a grant acceptance policy. What sort of grants will we accept and what are we willing to do in exchange for them? I sometimes get the feeling that we accept a grant for a project that we would not have done without the grant, but which requires us to fund the bulk of it.

KG said...

Charlie,

It would be great to know each line item but Central admin. will lie about supposable cuts made to central and re-name positions and keep the same positions but hide them in other line ine items. They are Liars!!!! Mean while they cut direct services to Kids and keep their FAT cows. Cut Central!!!

confused said...

Maybe I'm missing something, but I have basic questions. My son's school (Gatewood) currently has 4 K classes (he's in one of them). Next year, the project increased enrollment but budget 3.5 FTEs for 1st grade. How do you have half a teacher and budget for less than the current population when you expect an increase?
The budget also projects 56 half-day K students next year and 23 full-day next year. First, this is far less than the number this year and only 1 full day class room is really not realistic. My neighbors aren't going to choose 1/2 day.
Maybe the FTEs aren't really actual teachers and it's simply a way of saying you get $x, allocate it how you want, but that seems like not taking into account a school's actual staffing needs is goofy math (oh, wait we're talking about the district that approved everyday math. maybe they used a number train to get there).

Maureen said...

confused, from a quick look at Gatewood's budget, I see they project having 79 kindergarteners (the 1/2 vs. full day thing isn't meaningful-it has to do with how the state pays for K), and 95 1st graders. They are allocating a total of 3.5 K and 3.5 1st grade teachers. My interpretation of that is that they plan to have three kindergartens, three 1st grades and one K-1 split, with an average of 25 kids in each class. (Of course that will have to change if more than 79 kindergarteners show up.)

zb said...

"Why are they shortchanging children with disabilities yet again?"

Can you be more specific? Otherwise, this sounds quite a bit like "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" and will be ignored.

I worry about the changes in the system for children with disabilities, but I need more concrete questions to ask (and it's a subject I don't have personal knowledge of).

Anonymous said...

zb two years ago seattle schools went to a model of delivering special ed services called "integrated comprehensive services" or ICS. the promise? services follow the student. students enroll in their n'hood school and receive the services they need. according to what schools have now been told by special education and by interim superintendent susan enfield, they're stopping that model of special education delivery mid-stream. children will still be in their schools with all the services they still need, but, there won't be anybody providing the services. hopefully somebody from the special education ptsa will be at the meeting tonight.

parent

Anonymous said...

ZB, there used to be programs called inclusion programs staffed at 8:1, with 2 aides. This was mostly for students with autism or something similar, that provided special education to moderate/severely disabled students in general education. NOW, the district has decided to kill those programs. It will not assign students to them, and they have riffed inclusion program staff. Instead, under the new rules, they are assigning these severely disabled students to general education with NO SUPPORT. So, 5 kids in your school with autism? They will still be in your school, there just will be no support for them. Challenging behavior? Classroom teacher, you deal with it. Learning issues? Not a problem, who cares if they learn anything. Accommodation? Sure fine. So long as the kid accomodates himself, because no adult will be there to do it.

There will still be a resource room teacher, staffed at 22:1, or 18:1 if the principal begs. They changed the name of the resource room to ICS. Resource rooms are for learning disabilities, not more severe disabilities. Resource room teachers are trained for high incidence disabilities, like reading disabilities, not low incidence or severe disabilitites like autism.

So ZB, students with disabilities are getting totally shafted with their teacher ratios increased by more than 2. And their adult to student ratio increased by almost 3. That is a change that will effect and is effecting every student in the school, and not positively.

No Thank You, ICS

joanie said...

Cutting the most needy. Saving the jobs and incomes of those you know. What can we do to stop that?

School district admin should be halved. Teachers give and give and give time-wise. I think administrators should have more on their plates, should supervise more people and more categories and then they will have a better understanding how schools operate and the real needs of children. A more holistic picture. Departments have become isolated, self-interested, and administrators with a little too much time in their ivory towers. Without so many layers, the recent scandal could have been averted.

Decide what is needed for children and spend what's left on admin. It's been the other way around as far as I can see.

Websites and elementary computers are low priority. Professional development and waiver days are low priority. Give us some credit. On-line report cards, counselors, nurses, reasonable class sizes and proper curriculum.

Teachers need time to prepare and to teach.