Last week the district had a "community" budget meeting (I was not invited and had only seen it as a one-line note on the district calendar.) They invited 400 people and 8 came. Maybe next time they might just invite anyone from any school community.
Luckily the good people from Soup for Teachers sent a rep and here is Jason Rankin's write-up (thank you to him.) He asks some good questions for the next meeting and hopefully, this thread will generate some more. (I have to smile as Jason reports that the next meeting is on September 26th from 4-5 pm but it's not even on the district calendar right now.)
I'll just note that on page 17, it states that the district had carryover funds of $31M. I'm sure those are restricted in some way but that seems like a lot of unspent money when there is need in all directions. As well Sped spending has gone up 10% in three years. Page 31 has all the groups paid thru collective bargaining but I see no slide for the amount spend for administrative jobs.
Also, page 44 has the chart for spending for personnel for middle school. Does anyone know what the difference is between an assistant principal and a house administrator?
On Tuesday I attended the SPS community budget meeting as a
representative from SfT. Over 400 invitations to various community
partners went out; there were eight attendees apart from SPS staff.
JoLynn Berge, the new Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance
led the meeting with input from her staff and Stephen Nielsen. Full presentation.
The meeting was
similar in content to the initial community meeting that was held last
year, walking us through an overall view of the budget, revenues and
expenses. Key points:
• The state is providing SPS with an
additional $26.1MM over last year; it will cost SPS $1.9MM to receive
the additional funds, partly SPS pays teachers at a higher rate than the
state funds, partly because SPS funds K-3 at a higher level than the
• Seattle greatly benefits from having a strong business
presence. We have a higher levy rate than any other major district, but
that translates to a lower actual rate to homeowners because of the
business presence. To illustrate: Seattle’s levy rate in 2015 was
36.97%, translating to a tax per $1,000 of assessed value of $1.28.
Tacoma’s rate was 35.47%, translating to a tax of $4.57 per $1,000 of
assessed value. That enormous difference is due to the strong business
presence in Seattle. The state makes up some of that difference through
the Local Effort Assistance fund, but Seattle still had the highest per
pupil funding from levy/LEA of $3,674 per student.
revenues have been growing as a % of district revenue since the early
1980’s, the last time the state ‘reset’ funding due to a lawsuit. In
1981 that % was ~8%. Levies currently fund an average (across the
state) of 32% of Basic Education, 53% of Special Education, and 76% of
ELL. (Editor's bold and shame on the state. This should not be the case.)
• 78% of 2016-17 SPS budgeted expenditures are on the
classroom. 60.8% teachers, 10.8% teaching support (counselors, nurses,
curriculum), 6.4% principals.
• SPS provides funding to every
school for supplies, but schools are allowed to use that funding for
other things; often they choose personnel. That’s why parents are often
asked to provide supplies at the start of the year. It’s a larger
funding question; hence McCleary.
• The gap between state and
local funding for teachers is growing. For teacher and support salaries
across the state the gap in 2013-14 was ~$13,000; for admin salaries
• Enrollment in SPS is expected to continue to climb; SPS expects to add another 3,800 students in the next four years.
• Due to the higher cost of living, poverty levels in SPS are dropping, from 43.2% in 2012 to 36% in 2016.
• ELL population continues to rise, expected to hit 6,300 students this year from 5,800 in 2012/13.
• Seattle spends more per student than any other district in the state,
in some cases by a significant amount. It’s difficult to tell from the
chart what is a reasonable comparison; the numbers are not adjusted for
cost of living, and the programs and needs are different; but in
special ed SPS spends $14,709 per FTE student (full-time enrolled),
Bellevue spends $14,500, and Spokane spends $8,634. In ELL SPS spends
$3,147 per FTE, Spokane spends $2,472, and Kent spends $819.
won’t walk through the WSS formula (weighted staffing standard, which is
how the district allocates funding to the individual schools); as far
as I understood there are no significant changes from last year. That
formula is in the presentation if you want to take a look. The point was
made that SPS rounds up for teachers, which did not always seem to be
the case last year. We’ll have to keep an eye on any adjustments made
this year to see what actually happens.
The next meeting is on
September 26th, and I’d like to have our questions to the budget office
by Sept. 15th so they have time to prepare. They are specifically
interested in questions or suggestions for the WSS. Here are my
questions following the presentation:
• Why specifically does SPS spend so much more money on ELL and Special Ed than many other districts?
• Can you walk us through an example from the school side? Once the
school receives the money, how do they allocate funds? What choices
does the school make in that process, and who makes them?
does the capital allocation process work? How does SPS plan for and
allocate funding for new buildings and building improvements?
According to your charts, combined state and local basic ed funding rose
by ~$70MM from 2013/14 to 2015/16, while headcount only rose by 1,130.
Can you show us where that increased funding went? Rather than seeing a
single point in time (2016/17 budget), it would be helpful to see where
SPS chose / was required to spend that increased funding.
other questions do you have that we should bring to the next meeting?
What questions do you have on the presentation that I might be able to
You can always reach the budget office directly at email@example.com if you have any other questions.