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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Latest on Budget

Hello

I received this e-mail yesterday. I am posting it here. I will try to post all the e-mails I receive on the budgeting process.

Dear Seattle Public Schools Staff Members,

Excellence for All, our strategic plan, affirms that our central purpose is to advance the academic achievement of all students. The plan establishes key priorities for our work to improve the academic performance of students throughout the District and strengthen operations that support our schools.

In October, the Superintendent informed you that we must work together to address a projected $24 million funding shortfall in our next budget. We are committed to serving our students well in the short term and protecting the District's long term financial health. We must employ a variety of strategies to adjust to the reality that expected revenues are falling short of the increasing costs of delivering even current levels of service to our schools.

Last week, the School Board directed the Superintendent to evaluate building closure as one way among many that we can bring the District's capacity into balance. The benefits to students of our capacity management work include creating balance between capacity and where students live, as well as strengthening our ability to focus available resources on more fully enrolled schools. Numerous recent external audits point to significant potential long term savings through building closure, and we can realize near term savings, as well. The financial savings from potential building closure is only one of the strategies the District will consider.

Staff is therefore engaged in a multi-faceted approach to meeting the challenge of the budget shortfall. In addition to potential building closures, our actions include:

  1. Central Organization Prioritization process -- All central departments are currently engaged in an activity to prioritize the activities they currently perform in light of the strategic goals established in Excellence for All. This process is designed to provide data for probable budgetary reductions in central services.
  2. Efficiency analysis -- Stakeholders are continuing to submit ideas for process changes which will result in both greater efficiencies and reduced costs. These suggestions are being vetted through the Budget Development Team and assigned to appropriate staff for further analysis.
  3. Review of the Weighted Staffing Standards model -- A team of central and school staff has been meeting to evaluate school allocations and identify and prioritize the most critical services for student achievement. A set of draft recommendations has been presented to the Finance Committee. This process will likely result in both individual cost additions and subtractions, but it is expected to result in an overall cost savings.
  4. Revenue generation strategies -- Staff has compiled a series of ideas designed to generate new revenue which could be used to balance the impact of the known budget shortfall. While some of these are long term solutions, it is expected that some can be put in place to generate revenue for the coming school year. The Finance Committee has been briefed on these and analysis will continue throughout the budget development process.
  5. 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.

Teams throughout the District are working together at this early stage in the budget development process to produce a balanced budget for next year and to position the District well for long-term financial health. I want to acknowledge that it is a difficult process for us all to have to anticipate the impacts of a budget shortfall, and I am committed to keeping you informed throughout the budget process.

Upcoming dates for you to know about include the following:

· At today’s Board work session, staff will present initial information about potential solutions to close the budget shortfall.

· Action at the November 12th Board meeting to update the District's policy about building closure will clarify the timeline possible for accelerated capacity management work. An accelerated capacity management timeline that includes building closure will affect our budget development process, as well as other processes such as staffing and enrollment. Staff will develop and communicate new timelines for District processes in light of any Board action.

· The Finance Committee will be briefed on our budget development process at their November 20 committee meeting.

· I anticipate presenting recommendations on how we balance our budget to the Board at the December 12 Board meeting.

I realize that you may have more questions about the timeline and process. You can expect an email from me in the weeks to come as a more specific timeline, steps in the process, and opportunities to share input are developed. Please refer to the FAQ about the budget at: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/m_news/budget_faq.pdf

I appreciate your dedicated efforts to produce a budget that will maximize the benefits we can provide to all our students.

Sincerely,

Don Kennedy

Chief of Finance and Operations

3 comments:

SolvayGirl said...

Still nothing concrete about reducing Administrative staff...though I see a lot about reducing services. I am also concerned about the student allocation formulas as it may mean a reduction in the arts (since they don't seem to be deemed necessary for a student to be successful).

Charlie Mas said...

Wow!

There so many items here that pique my interest, I'm not sure where to begin.

Actually, I do know where to begin. Before anything else, this represents a very positive effort to inform and engage the staff. This is how it should be done and I don't imagine previous administrations would do it, so, first thing, KUDOS! to Mr. Kennedy and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson for sending this out.

Now to the content...

Although there is talk about how the reviews suggested savings from eliminating excess capacity, I see no mention of how the reviews suggested savings from reducing central administration positions.

That may be implicit in the prioritization of work. Prioritizing the work is a good thing and the right way to go about making smart cuts.

I wonder about this mention of suggestions from stakeholders on efficiencies. I hadn't heard about that before.

Revenue generation strategies? What's that about? The good news here, once again, is that they are taking suggestions from stakeholders.

snaffles said...

They are taking suggestions, does not mean they will listen to them or act on them.

Besides saying to reduce administration, who is to go?

How about facilities can we get rid of a few of them?