Saturday, July 01, 2017

Seattle Schools' Statement on Budget

(Bold mine)
“We thank the Legislature for their effort to create a new basic education funding model. It is no small task, and those of us in the field of education recognize their challenge.

“As we review the budget and McCleary plan, we have been evaluating whether the money we get from the state will meet constitutional needs and district needs.

“We appreciate the increase in learning assistance funds, and that the budget retains the funding model based on staffing allocations.

“The budget shows a net increase for Seattle, and we are appreciative. The challenge is, most of these new dollars are restricted to spending in certain categories. This puts us behind because we lose the flexibility to use local levy dollars where needed and the state doesn’t backfill the gap.

“As we continue peeling back the layers of the budget and McCleary plan, we see major gaps that need to be addressed early in the 2018 legislative session. If these gaps aren’t fixed by then, basic education for some of the most vulnerable students will be at risk.

“One example is that SPS uses $60 million in local levy funding to meet the needs of its students in special education, costs that aren’t covered by state or federal funding. The proposed budget provides the district $16 million in new special education money but takes away the ability to use local levy dollars to fill the remaining $44 million gap. This is untenable.

“We see a similar gap for our English Language Learners and in transportation, although to a lesser degree, where the redefinition of basic education sends some new state funds but not enough, and we are prohibited from filling the gap with local levies.

“In terms of salaries, the proposed budget doesn’t meet today’s required compensation  levels, and we risk losing support staff and educators in an already challenging market.

“We appreciate that the Legislature retained its staffing allocation model. However, they did not fully fund it. That means a lack of resources for our most vulnerable students.

“We will work with our delegation so the needed fixes are made in the 2018 session.”

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will be interested to see how much support this budget has after the full implications of it become known.

DWE

Watching said...

We better not see funding go towards administrative raises.

Anonymous said...

Transportation? So are we back to 3 tiers in 2018? What about the early releases this year- still happening?

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

I'm also curious about early release Wednesdays. I saw something in the funding/Ed reform plan about reducing half days and had to groan thinking of all the plans that need to be reevaluated, for better or worse. Poor SPS!

Not McClearly

Kate (Belltown) said...

It's hard to know where to start, although it's not hard to see why a very few number of legislators negotiated this budget in the dark. It was deeply alarming to see the McConnell-like secrecy with which the Legislature arrived at this education funding plan. It feels like a gut punch that Democrats agreed to this very Republican plan. And where was the union? why weren't they sounding the alarm bells and getting parents and students out strong in Olympia, educating a highly uneducated (look no further than the Seattle Times) public??

Maybe I misunderstood the McCleary decision. But did the court ask the State to nullify all teachers' district-negotiated contracts? to make all district employees state employees, now at the mercy of the legislature for salary and benefits? And did McCleary demand a levy swap, so that Seattle and few other "property rich" districts are starved of their own funds, making them unable to serve all their students and retain educators?

The balance of the already-inadequate funding is back-loaded, with $5.8 Billion needing to be found in the final two years of the 4-year plan. Since Republicans refuse to consider adequate and stable funding - as required by McCleary - will they hold hostage teachers and other district employees, saying that it was a promise they can't keep because they can't raise taxes again? And all of this will be on top of likely very significant federal funding cuts.

This whole thing, from its inception in darkness to its outrageous inadequacy is so wrong, on so many levels. Will there be any lawsuits against this terrible plan? Will the Supreme Court have the guts to say no to this plan? What is our Plan B?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't know the answers to all these questions except that I don't think you can sue over a budget.

My Plan B IS the Supreme Court. I can't believe they will say this is good and fulfils McCleary.

DWE has it right about the ramifications of this budget. And that's why it should have been done sooner and fully vetted by voters and others.

I had a tweet back and forth with a former legislator - who will remain nameless, at least by me - who said this:

"@MelissaSantos1 @WestbrookMel So what shld we do? Not fund McCleary? Wish it had capital gains, carbon tax. But wishes don't pay the bills."

No but I can also say that a child's education is forever. So standing by and allowing this kind of legislative behavior/action is wrong for me. It's undemocratic.

I'm as pragmatic as the next person but this is wrong.

Kate (Belltown) said...

Thank you, Melissa, and I hope you are correct about the Supreme Court. I worry, though...

Anonymous said...

This is a joke and does nothing to fundamentally improve education for students, especially in Western Washington. Seriously--this is what we've waited for for YEARS? This is not a fix. It's not even a band-aid. Time to call foul on the legislature--again.

Melissa: What can we parents do at this point that will make any difference in the actual outcome?

--Concerned parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Concerned Parent, there are a couple of things.

1) Call out to family and co-workers and friends the issues with this budget. If they are in King County, tell them that their property taxes will go up and the money will NOT all stay with schools in our region.

2) Tell them to read in the Times (today) about how a tax break for companies was worked in while this statewide property tax for homeowners (and that means a rent hike for renters) was worked in.

3) The #1 thing you can do? Give money or volunteer for Manka Dhingra in the 45th (Dino Rossi, who was appointed,is not running but the GOP candidate who is looks like something of a carpetbagger, not to mention her stances.)

"But Melissa, I don't live in the 45th."

No matter. This one Senate race could swing the Dems to power in the Senate and we might be able to see some changes to this budget.

This is absolutely something that needs to be done and could help the most.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Melissa,

I have donated to Manka Dhingra's campaign. Thank you for keeping us informed of the dirty details of this deal and our options for opposing them.

AnotherConcernedParent

Kate (Belltown) said...

Thanks, Melissa, for the Dhingra info; I'm sending a donation as well.

Also, I'm sure everyone has seen the piece in the Times about the secret McCleary negotiations. Not a single Seattle, or even urban Democrat in that group.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/eight-lawmakers-secluded-struggle-to-broker-mccleary-funding-deal/

And, has anyone seen how our Seattle delegation voted? Other than Carlyle, who was a no vote, I haven't seen anything.

Watching said...

The McCleary fix may not be constitutional. The Supreme Court did not say levy funding can not be used for basic education. There is a big hole in special education that needs to be fixed.

Anonymous said...

Superintendent stated "The budget shows a net increase for Seattle, and we are appreciative."

But the district is losing flexible levy dollars. The new budget will be fixed. Transportation, special ed and ELL all will not have enough funds to operate effectively with this budget and levy dollars will not be able to be used to backfill where we need it.

In addition, class sizes will not go down despite passage of the statewide initiative.

Do I understand all this correctly?

Therefore, does anyone have any idea how the "net increase" in dollars will likely be allocated in SPS? Where is there a gap currently where this money can be used?

- public school parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

PSP, you state the issue succinctly. K-3 class sizes will remain at smaller sizes; the Legislature could not ignore that because it's in McCleary (actually all class sizes are in McCleary but apparently K-3 more so.)

I have often asked that question, "Once there are McCleary dollars, how will our district spend them?" The district has a very bad habit of saying they have no money for some things and yet finding dollars for initiatives they generate and they want. I think it important to track those dollars and hold the district accountable for where that money goes right from the start.

Anonymous said...

" I think it important to track those dollars and hold the district accountable for where that money goes right from the start."

Yes I feel there will need to be transparency from the superintendent on any new dollars even if fixed. How will any new "fixed" money be allocated?

Hopefully the state supreme court will reject this budget as "smoke and mirrors" if this budget will not funding special ed, ELL, transportation, salaries effectively. Anything else affected by this limited and fixed budget? Capital projects to address capacity issues? Perhaps Seattle and other similarly affected districts will be able to argue to use (approved) levy dollars in the interim? I am so disappointed with this outcome after all the advocacy by activists, parents, Paramount Duty etc.

Neighbors I have spoken to about this were really in the dark, the impacts need to be clearly articulated and conveyed by the Times etc.
-Public School Parent.