Dear SEA members,
Congratulations! By acting collectively on behalf of students and schools, and by shining a light on SPS budget practices that have routinely overestimated expenses, we have succeeded in getting the District to reverse the $4 million in school budget cuts!
By Monday night, 40 schools had voted no on their school budgets, with dozens more set to follow suit this week. Hundreds of members were making plans to come to the school board meeting tomorrow night. Now that will not be necessary; the school board action is cancelled.
This unprecedented action by SEA members helped District leaders understand the devastating impact the cuts would have, and focused them on SEA’s budget analysis, which showed a pattern of overestimating expenses which has resulted in substantial end of year savings for the last 4 years.
We also commend the many principals, executive directors and central office administrators who worked diligently to understand the cut’s impact on schools, to re-examine their budgets, and to find some money to mitigate the cuts. A late infusion of money from the legislature gave SPS the confidence that it would have enough in its reserves to reverse the cuts. While District resources will be thin for a short period, SEA’s analysis showed, and the District agreed, that as the year goes on reserves will rebound sufficiently.
We reached an agreement last night with the District to set aside budget votes while schools assess how their budget picture may change. Some schools had already received substantial mitigation dollars and may not see much change in their budgets. Others will see positive changes in their allocation, regardless of whether they voted yes, no, or hadn’t voted yet. Building mediations in the 40 schools that voted “no” are cancelled. If a building votes “no” on their new budget, a new mediation will be scheduled, just as in past years.
We have asked the District to make clear that with the cuts reversed, there is no longer any District recommendation to cut FTEs as was called for by the Weighted Staffing Standards (WSS) in the first allocation. However, bear in mind that enrollment changes and reductions in federal Title I money may have an FTE impact in some buildings.
As public educators, we are called on not just to do great things in our classrooms, offices and worksites, but also to be skilled and energetic advocates for public education itself. Again, congratulations to all SEA members!
Jonathan Knapp Phyllis Campano