Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Want to Know What Makes Up Budget Deficit? Mum's the Word

Last week, I asked district Communications a couple of questions about the projected $70M+ budget deficit for the 2017-2018 via email.  I also spoke to a member of the Communications team. When I asked, I was told that was probably a question they would get from many reporters and they would get that info.  (Makes sense, no?)

Here's what I asked:
I just read the Times' article on the levy cliff. I have also attended multiple SPS meetings where this is being discussed. But I have not seen a breakdown of the actual deficient itself.

My understanding is this:

$74M deficient (up three million since the Board voted in grandfathering for some schools based on boundary changes*)

Of that, $23M is increased labor costs that SPS knew were coming from the new SEA contract.

Then there is $31M from the levy cliff.

That leaves about $20M to account for. Where does that part of the deficit come from?
(Editor's note - it is NOT $3M in transportation costs for the transportation for the grandfathering.  Staff says it's $1M but has not provided any real data on that number.  As for the other $2M, no one seems to be able to explain why it's there.)

Here was the reply I received today:
In order to get answers to your below questions you’ll need to fill out a public records request by emailing publicrecords@seattleschools.org.
I need to file a public disclosure request for information about the school district's public budget?  A budget that they are whipping up a lot of concern and churn about because of a huge deficit that they say may mean layoffs and cuts?

File that in the circular file under, "transparency."


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ed said...

First rodeo Tenderfoot?

Let the Bats out of their Belfry! said...

How long does a public records request take? How often do people get records from SPS this way? Is it doable? Can the board get this information at all? Can the board get it faster than a public records request? Can the taxpayers? Doesn't this seem like "our" information? Can we fire the people who won't give it to us? What the heck?

Anonymous said...

Hey where did my comment go?

--Math counts

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, I deleted the first comment thinking it was off-topic. My error.

A public records request generally takes at least a month, usually longer. The Board should be able to get this info but the question remains, what's the big mystery?

Anonymous said...

sorry it's on the open post not here. Never mind.

--Math counts

Anonymous said...

According to one of the documents attached to a November 22 Board agenda, part of that $3 million increase is attributed to "updated Budget Assumptions", as well as "year end amounts" in "unrestricted fund balance" being less than anticipated - hmmm...

So they overspent someplace - gee wonder where that was


Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm sorry but they have an $11M underspend one year and now $70+M budget deficit, some of which they clearly knew was coming (SEA raises)?

Elsa said...

"The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. This chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy and to assure that the public interest will be fully protected. In the event of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and any other act, the provisions of this chapter shall govern."

RCW 42.56.030

Charlie Mas said...

I thought that some of the deficit was a result of the new class size requirements from the state. Smaller class sizes required the district to hire more teachers. The money from the state for teacher salaries, however, doesn't cover the actual cost of teachers, so with each teacher hired the district has to draw a bit more from their general fund.

Anonymous said...

How does the Seattle Public Schools come up with the total dollars shortfall in Superindendent Nyland's letter if there are no subtotals available? I feel there was no gain from Nyland's letter if there is no there there. Of course, writing to him is a waste, since we have heard in the past, when many parents wrote in on a topic, that he did not read the hundreds of emails that were sent to him. So, waste of time to write him, in my personal opinion.