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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Latest Budget Missive

Hello

I received this on Friday:

Dear Seattle Public Schools Staff Members,

Earlier today I held my first brown bag lunch discussion on next year’s budget. The discussion, which occurred in the TV Studio at the JSCEE Center, was a live internet broadcast that allowed a studio audience and me to interact through a question and answer session on the budget. We also had several people join the conversation via teleconferencing. The feedback I received after the session was that people liked the opportunity to express their concerns about the budget and to get immediate answers to their questions.

Two weeks ago, after I announced that I would hold the brown bag lunches, I received feedback from some of our teachers that the times of the studio brown bags would not fit their work schedules. I am therefore modifying the schedule for the next two sessions as follows:

· Tuesday, December 2, from 2:30 to 3:30

· Wednesday December 17, from 3:30 to 4:30

I hope that this change will allow teachers to participate. I will plan additional sessions for January following the winter break.

My most recent meeting with the Board’s Finance Committee was yesterday. I recommended to the committee that we change the budget development calendar to allow more time for us to work together to make recommendations for balancing the budget. The Finance Committee agreed to change the dates for Board presentations as follows:

· Preliminary recommendations presented on January 14

· Final recommendations presented on February 4.

These changes were made because, (1) the Board will not vote on school closures until January 29, and these decisions will impact how we develop the budget, and (2) there is currently too much uncertainty about how the state’s budget shortfall of $5 billion will impact funding we rely on from the state. The governor’s proposed budget should be released just before winter break, and our recommendations will be informed by information in that budget proposal to the legislature.

The Information Technology department has created an email exclusively for you to send in questions regarding the budget and our budget development process. I will either respond to these questions during future streamed budget sessions or via email. The email address is: Don'sBudgetTalks@seattleschools.org

Thanks to all who participated in today’s session. Your input was helpful today and will continue to be an important part of developing a budget that will help us realize our goals of providing every student with an excellent education.

Sincerely,

Don

8 comments:

reader said...

Has anyone been following the state's budget deficit? I have. Every week, for the last 6 weeks, it has grown by 1 billion dollars. A billion!!! This morning Gregoire said she thought it was around 6 billion. Yes, on Friday, as Michael posted, it was 5 billion... today it's 6 billion. They forgot to put a few things on it Friday. Education is the biggest budget item for the state, so this train-wreck is definitely headed our way, fast!

TechyMom said...

Dear Governor Gregoire,

Please raise my taxes to adequately fund public schools.

You could triple my current property tax, and I would still have less out-of-pocket cost than tuition at the least expensive private school I've looked at, which is Catholic and subsidized byt the Church. The most expensive school I've looked at, which is not the most expensive in the city, is just over 5 times my property taxes.

I can afford it, and I want to share a quality education with all the students in Seattle, rather than paying more to fund it only for my own child. Please raise my taxes.

Thank you,
A citizen

Melissa Westbrook said...

So both the PI and the Times had editorials about cutting the state budget. The PI came out strongly against the 20% that the state says will likely come out of K-12 and higher ed which is more than any other area.

The Times, on the other hand, says here's where cuts could be made in education:

-get rid of I-728 money because it really isn't being used for smaller class size (true but it will hurt)- 926M
-no pay raises for state employees including state-funded schools and colleges - $887M
-cut seats in universities and community colleges/raise tuition - $600M
-Take away the three math and science learning-improvement days — nonteaching days — for high-school teachers, and two similar days for elementary teachers - $52M

One person in the comment section said they could save millions by eliminating/streamlining the WASL. Good point.

anonymous said...

Well, thanks, Techymom for asking for property taxes to increase three fold. Obviously, you can afford it. I can't. I can't afford private school, it is not an option for our family, so I don't compare my property tax to the cost of private school. But thanks for doing that for me.

I understand that we must pay taxes to fund education, and I'm happy to do so, even a reasonable increase....but triple??? In a time of economic crisis, unemployment, and neighbors having their homes foreclosed?

TechyMom said...

That was obviously somewhat tongue in cheek. However, I think that a lot of people, when they say taxes are too high, forget about the out-of-pocket costs that they end up paying instead of paying taxes. My point was, that for a lot of people, a tax increase, which would never actually be 3 times in the real world, would buy them a whole lot more than they can buy as an individual on the open market.

I'm also a big fan of progressive taxes, and think that people who can afford it (myself included) should pay more. However, more than one person has to pony up for it to work. If I just donate to a single school, it doesn't get the job done. So, yes, please raise my taxes, but not necessarily everyone's.

reader said...

OK TechyMom. Let's do some math.

Tax increases at this juncture are not going to cut it. We're talking about a 6 billion dollar deficit. Spread that out over 6 million people or 2.2 million households. (2006 estimated census).

Got the data, TechyMom? So, you want to create a progressive tax. That means about half the people don't pay tax (if it's like federal income tax). And, the top 10%... should pay at least 1/2 of that 6 billion total. That means: 3 billion divided by 220,000 families.

That means that YOU, TechyMom, (since you're in the top 10% and can afford it)... will need to cough up an EXTRA $13,636... and that's simply to simply keep the status quo. To adequately fund public education... well, you'll probably need to pay significantly more.. let's say $18,000 to $20,000. And if that deficit keeps increasing, say it doubles, well, that's $40,000. Not so different from the most expensive private school, depending on how many children you have.

seattle citizen said...

More math:
* Cost of $30,000 per year (at least) to house each person sent to jail (many of whom would not be there if they had been educated and embraced by the community)
* Cost of the police forces that sned them there.
* Cost of public health system to taxpayers, who are paying for those who can't afford public health due to low education levels.
* Cost of decreased business tax base as business moves out due to lack of educated workforce
* Cost of unemployment benefits to taxpayers, as those who aren't educated don't have jobs.
* Cost of domestic violence, drug abuse, child protective services as these problems increase with unemployment/joblessness
* Cost of three lives lost last weekend, as hopeless youth pick up handy guns and shoot each other.

Anyone want to crunch THOSE numbers?

reader said...

I'm not saying the cost isn't worth it, just that it will not happen. And likely, education won't fix a great number of the problems listed. People grossly underestimate what it would really take to improve public education, thinking all we need is little more here and there. No, it's a huge amount everywhere. And that is why private schools are so popular. For a mere 15 - 20grand, for a limited number of years, you can educate your 1 child.... instead of the 40 grand or so extra, every year, forever, it will take to educate all the kids.