Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Seattle Schools This and That

Reminder of the boundary meeting at JAMS tomorrow night at 6:30 pm. 
Please email stories, information and questions to 2017boundaryadvocates@gmail.com
Audit and Finance committee meeting agenda for Thursday's meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  The documentation is 383 pages but a number of pages are part of the EEU contract.

One BAR jumps out at me - Approval of Washington Schools Risk Management Pool Coverage Agreement for fiscal year 2016-2017 

The renewal premium represents a reduction of $38,745 from the 2015-2016 premium of $1,961,000. There are two modest changes to the coverage from the 2015-2016 coverage.
The first of these works to our benefit, reducing the deductible for damage to any one of the district owned or leased vehicles from $5,000 to $1,000. The second change is a limitation to the additional benefit amount for defense costs that the WSRMP will pay for lawsuits brought under special education Individual Education Plans (IEP). Where the 2015-2016 benefit would have been up to $200,000 for each such lawsuit, the 2016-2017 benefit would be capped at $250,000 aggregate for the year. For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the WRMP has paid $35,309 under two such lawsuits.
That second change could be problematic for the district except that it appears that not many parents have brought lawsuits against the district over IEPs.  I don't think that's from not wanting to but not being able to do so.

The agenda also contains the BAR for Head Start.  I was a little startled by the cost of the program which serves 400 pre-K students and their families.

It shows grant funding for $4,195,939, plus non-federal match requirement, including transportation, volunteer hours, District funded professional development and district program support to bring the total budget to $5,244,924.
There's also a BAR on the district's policy on keys.  I'm wondering if this has anything to do with the test cheating scandal.

There's also a BAR on data privacy for employees but really, the policy should be overhauled for both employees and students.  See page 295 to see all the information the district will send out on students. 

The documentation also includes a BAR for Gifts, Grants, Donations, etc. to update the policy to include things like crowdsource fundraising.

Very interesting page - 341 - that is a draft list of grants.   To note:
  • the district gets $40,000 from McKinney-Vento (fed homeless student dollars): shockingly low
  • the amount that South Shore Pre-K8 is receiving seems to be dropping since LEV took it over (that or their enrollment is down and maybe the amount was adjusted): 2014-2015, $970K, 2015-2016, $962K and 2016-2017, $875K.
  • PTA funding is also projected to drop from $3,778,963 to about $3.2M next year. Not sure why the district thinks the fundraising will drop that much.
Affirmative Action Plan Update, starting on page 344.  Page 346 lists the percentage of African-American teachers and Native American employees.

Page 362 has enrollment data for the last couple of years.  
The Work Session tomorrow finally has the budget info.  Interesting thing - there's a "one time" resource of $11M available.  (See page 90 of the document.)  It appears to have been written by Deputy Superintendent Steve Nielsen.

The one time resources derive from underspend in the current FY 16-17 year. 

I know very little about budgeting but I have to wonder about an underspend on a school year that hasn't happened yet.  I'm guessing they mean there was an overestimation somewhere that they now have available.

A “Compliance and System Effectiveness” slide (not attached, still under construction ) is a listing of high need items that will address known compliance/policy changes to address pressing needs. The slide will be handed out at the work session.
Then there's this:

Other unanticipated needs often arise over the course of the year. Needs could relate to unplanned events, elimination/lessening risk, and other unforeseen necessities. Typically, costs to address the needs are distributed by the Superintendent from within the overall approved budget.
Sure, all that is true but isn't that what the rainy day fund is for (and yes, there is one even if staff likes to say there isn't.)

Staff is giving the Board some choices.

1) Hold on the to money for 2016-2017
2) Distribute within these categories: SMART goals, School Resources, Wants: Second Curriculum, Efficiencies and Process Improvements and Service Based Budgets.


I'm being told the district is putting two portables in the (small) parking lot at Roosevelt for next year.  I'm not sure if the district realizes that a light rail station is being built right across the street from that parking lot. 

OPSI made this announcement today:
K-3 Class Size Reduction Grants will provide nearly $234 million to 21 districts across the state. The money will be used by districts on capital projects to provide more classroom space and flexibility.
The grants were awarded to districts demonstrating the greatest need on four criteria in order of importance: 
  • Applicants with high necessary added-classrooms-to-available-classrooms ratio in kindergarten through third grades;
  • Applicants with high student-to-teacher ratios in grades K-3; 
  • Applicants with high percentage of students eligible and enrolled in the free and reduced-price meals program; and 
  • Applicants that have not raised capital funds through levies or bonds in the prior ten-year period.
In the application process, districts certified that they have available sites, that they have authorized local funds, and that projects will achieve progress towards all-day kindergarten and average K-3 class size objectives for the 2017-18 school year (projects do not need to be complete by then).

Districts can also use funds to add K–3 classroom capacity by modernizing existing classrooms in previously closed buildings. Funds can be used for traditional-built and modular buildings but not for portables.
Seattle Schools is receiving $10M while Kenniwick SD is the big winner with $51M (followed by Vancouver SD at $42M.)  Federal Way is receiving $22.5M and Highline is getting $6M.)

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