Latest Budget Update


I received this e-mail late last week on the budget process:

Dear Seattle Public Schools Staff Members,

In my recent email, I committed to keeping you updated on our progress toward creating a balanced budget for the next academic year.

Let me first update you on the highlights of the Wednesday, November 5, Board Finance Committee work session:

· We reviewed the financial results of last fiscal year, which ended August 31, 2008

o SPS ended with a surplus of approximately $5 million more than earlier forecasted

o We showed the board how this additional amount might partially be used to offset the projected FY 2009-10 budget shortfall and fund the cost of building closures

· We recommended a hiring freeze to the board. This is a prudent step to take to ensure we do not increase costs as we attempt to balance the budget.

· We presented several scenarios that showed the board various ways the budget could be balanced. These included a combination of the various approaches that I discussed in my last communication to you on November 5

My next meeting with the Finance Committee will be on Nov. 20. We will continue to refine our approach to balancing the budget and will update the finance committee on our progress.

In the meantime, I would like to invite you to attend any of a series of informal brown bag lunch discussions where we can answer your questions and hear any ideas you may have as we develop our budget. The discussions will be held in the TV Studio in room 3400 at the JSCEE Center. You can either join me in the TV Studio or participate via teleconferencing. The discussions will be broadcast live and you will be able to call in with your questions. I will send details out later on how to call in. Feel free to join me at any of the following times:

· Friday, November 21, from 12:00 to 1:00

· Tuesday, December 2, from 11:30 to 12:30

· Wednesday, December 17, from 12:30 to 1:30

Thank you for your continued efforts to bring excellence to every school in our district.




So in Mr. Kennedy's first letter he said,

"Increased enrollment -- Student enrollment increased in 2008, and the additional revenue to Seattle Public Schools as a result of the increase in students is approximately $1 million."

I wonder if that is part of the $5M he references here or in addition?

You'll note that despite what the State Auditor has said about too many administrators for the central office, neither letter even hints at losing staff. They want a hiring freeze sure but no staff cuts. It might be a good idea to freeze all trips as well.
Well, looking at the Agenda for tomorrow's Board meeting, I guess the people in Facilities didn't get this letter. They are asking the Board to use some of the BEX money ($500,000) to hire a senior manager for 3 years for Facilities to oversee BEX/BTA. That's $166,000 a year. Nice work if you can get it.

It's funny because I actually think they may need this person but that's not the point. I thought the district wanted to put a freeze on new hiring (and frankly, where would the money come to continue this person's salary at the end of the 3 years?) and how does this look? That's money that should go to a building, not a person. And, of course, it's just one more administrator in what the Auditor thinks is an overloaded administration.
Bruce Taylor said…
Melissa, you repeatedly refer to the state auditor's findings regarding overstaffing at the central office. I'm relatively new to your blog. Could you post a link to that report? Thanks in advance.
Charlie Mas said…
If the money for the BEX administrator would come from the BEX budget, then it's getting paid out of the capital budget instead of the operations budget, right? Therefore it doesn't figure in the budget trouble.

Here's what's weird: BEX III is more than half over and they are only NOW hiring someone to run it? Who has been running it so far? Haven't they been doing a good job? I sure haven't heard any admissions of failures.
The manager is to oversee both BEX and BTA levies. Don't know why, at this point, they need someone but maybe the BEX Oversight Committee suggested it. Also, my point is that once the 3 year BEX money is used up, I suspect that person would then be paid out of the General Fund unless they work this person's salary out of all future BEX/BTA levies.

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