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Thursday, February 25, 2010

What the Directors Said

From the Board Work Session on the Budget. There were numerous handouts and much shuffling of paper.

The budget gap according to Don Kennedy, COO, is now $24.6. It is tricky because we do not know what version of the state budget is going to win (House, Senate, Governor).

Michael DeBell said that he was having difficulty in understanding what he had before him and wished to see inputs AND outputs. He said he also needed to see clear relationships between projects and funding source available for them.

Mr. Kennedy said the coaches number was down by 28 because of reduction of I-728 money. Later on, he said they had 100 coaches but this differs from a figure of 116 given at a Board committee meeting where Meg Diaz' report was discussed. He also then said they were backfilled with baseline dollars to core areas.

Mr Kennedy said that next week they would announce the cuts from the Central Administration budget. He said they needed to be at $6M and are at $5.4 so far. Kay said that in Meg's report that there had been growth in Central Administration and if we grew by $7M, shouldn't we be cutting $12M? Kennedy said he would get to that later in the meeting (but I don't remember it happening). There was some discussion again about how the coaches had been inproperly coded by OSPI standards.

Michael again said that the district needs to have transparency in these kinds of budget issues (coding and labeling and sorting) because of the confusion it causes. He said we can't have internal accounting that differs from external accounting.

Kay asked about comparing our Central office numbers with other districts but the answer was that it was too difficult to do because of the differences. (That didn't seem to stop the State Auditor two years ago - I'll have to send that report to Kay.)

(According to the report, both Viewlands and Rainier View Elementaries will have ELL and Special Ed programs.)

(Also, on the curriculum alignment front, Kathy Thompson from the academic side, said that science 9-11-12 will be adopted next year as well as high school social studies 9-12. She said that there will be a K-5 music adoption and 6-8 Language Arts as well.) Michael asked about the money ratio between materials, professional development and adoption committee. She said that materials are the bulk of the money. Michael then asked about using money from the capital account for the textural materials. The reply was that the capital money is pretty much committed and can't use interest from the BEX III bond.)

I slipped Michael a note about this because in the last two BEX Oversight Committee meetings, it was made clear that the Board controls the BEX program reserve (which I don't know the actual figure - likely to be at least a couple of million dollars). And, that they were coming to the next Board meeting to ask that it stay with BEX. I let the entire Board know this in an e-mail this morning. While I appreciate that BEX wants to keep the money, the entire district needs the money. If they get to keep it, even though the Board controls it, then the Board will once again be caving to the district. There is no real reason to keep it.

Also, the staff said that they set aside money each year for elections even though we have levy/bond elections every 3 years. This seems odd and was not fully explained.

Kay asked about families paying more for athletics or doing more professional development on-site (or on-line) rather than at the headquarters. They said they are looking into that but F/RL would still get any athletic fee increase waived.

Steve spoke up and asked if there were functions that the district could just state that we are going to stop doing. Not cut back on but just stop entirely. He said it would be better to be able to clearly tell people what is happening. There was talk from staff about more efficiencies but frankly, if they haven't found them by now after all our years of floundering, I have wonder.

DeBell said that the levy had passed well but that people were told it supports teachers in classrooms and the 6-period day for high school and we can't let them down on that promise. He said that the cuts have to track what the public's perception is about what the district is delivering.

Staff explained how they got to the proposed cuts to the WSS. He said they had talked about a one-week furlough for district staff but that it would reduce the instructional calendar. I was confused here because if the central administration shut down for a week, why would all the schools have to as well? They said if we could get K-4 funding back from the state, they could avoid the WSS cuts. They said many superintendents had signed a letter to this effect including Dr. G-J.

In terms of the cuts I mentioned in the previous thread, for example, the cuts would be intervention specialists back to .5 at all the comprehensives, etc. Meaning, not just a few schools but all schools. However, Steve asked if a school had to make the cuts here or could they decide what to cut? Staff said the school could decide but something would go away in the end.

There was some talk about how the flight schools had been excluded from RIFs last time but it could happen in the second year of the contract. Oddly, Dr. Enfield and Kathy Thompson were sitting right there but didn't speak up as to whether the flight schools would have RIFs or not if other schools had them as well.

DeBell talked about the need to standardize our pay for K. (This was addressed at the very end of the presentation but I was not still in the room. I don't know what was discussed or decided.)

Director opinions

Harium - can't get rid of the maintenance zone crew, it's penny-wise and pound foolish. "I can't go there personally."

Dr. G-J - same reaction for kindergarten. "It's our core work." She wanted to be on the record for this opinion. Harium agreed.

Peter - we need to stop cutting back on maintenance. He also wouldn't want to cut instrumental music because once you stop, it may never come back. He said he was "in-between" on kindergarten funding.

Kay - music is critical and we can find ways to fund it (I think she may have meant private means). Kay also spoke up for maintenance.

(Yes, there is quite the irony here for the directors all coming out so much for...maintenance and its importance. A little late to the party but welcome.)

I do think there was some method to the madness of how the budget was laid out to the Board. Clearly Michael is worried about the public perception of any cuts if they cannot clearly explain to folks the how, why and input/output. If this presentation was any example, good luck with that.

20 comments:

Maureen said...

Dr. G-J - same reaction for kindergarten. "It's our core work."

Melissa, what is the context for this? Is she saying that she wants to keep full day K in all schools (at a price of $207 per month)?

Thanks for being there and posting this!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, that is was my understanding that she doesn't want to cut full-day K in any form. If you look at the presentation, there was supposed to be discussion of how to streamline pay for K at all schools but I didn't stay that long. I don't know if they covered it or what was decided.

ParentofThree said...

Except that there are almost 10 schools so over crowded with the new SAP that they may not be able to offer full-day K. It was an option in the Transition Plan that they may have to implement.

So to me that is just a media soundbite, that is meaningless unless they in fact to offer full-day at every K this fall.

seattle said...

Well of course MGJ is pro full day K. Her child enters pre-school this year. It directly affects her.

I'm still bitter about her choosing New School, with all of their extra outside funding and support. Her child won't feel the brunt of what the rest of the children in the district will feel with all of these cuts.

zb said...

What an incredibly thankless job the board members (and the district) have right now. It really is Sophie's choice.

Isn't Sundquist signaling that he sees cutting SPS funding for instrumental music in elementary as a way to go -- "just stop doing something" rather than multiple incremental changes to programs?

Melissa Westbrook said...

let say when Steve made that comment it was not in reference to ANY program. I think he was trying to ask something like "couldn't we just cut something entirely rather than death from a thousand paper cuts-type cuts?" So I read that as him wanting more to just pull off the bandaid than just keep pulling on it.

Jet City mom said...

According to the report, both Viewlands and Rainier View Elementaries will have ELL and Special Ed programs.

Um... Shouldn't ALL elementary schools have special education if they receive federal funding?

Jet City mom said...

I also think that if they stop providing instrumental music- there should be a huge outcry.

Our area has a thriving musical community with strong music programs in some middle and several high schools.

Students whose parents are able to pay for private lessons would still be able to avail themselves of the middle and high school programs- but others- most I imagine, would not be able to participate at that level.

faithful reader said...

re: "Well of course MGJ is pro full day K. Her child enters pre-school this year. It directly affects her."

I'd always wondered if that's her real motivation for pouring so much money into S.T.E.M.

SolvayGirl said...

I doubt if MG-J will be in Seattle when her child enters high school. She'll be on to bigger and better things. I think STEM is just a feather in her cap, and a way to "improve" a failing school (as Charlie has pointed out—by replacing the current under-performing student population with an new, over-achieving one).

Jet City mom said...

I doubt if MG-J will be in Seattle when her child enters high school. She'll be on to bigger and better things. I think STEM is just a feather in her cap, and a way to "improve" a failing school (as Charlie has pointed out—by replacing the current under-performing student population with an new, over-achieving one).

Totally.
Gets to use the figures on her CV, including her Seattle salary and bonuses.

dan dempsey said...

Melissa wrote:
"The budget gap according to Don Kennedy, COO, is now $24.6. It is tricky because ....

Because it comes from the MG-J administration.

Seems everything they do is tricky.

Next comes Performance Management.

dan dempsey said...

It is tricky because the board just thought they voted for a STEM school that did not have adequate funding for the proposed model.

Now it turns out they are contractually obligated to a more expensive 2 schools plan. This could not be clearer in the contract that 2 school programs are mandated under the contract, which also spells out get more $$$ somehow. Because you will be paying two principals and running two separate schools. We went to 9 comprehensive high schools and two PBL high schools with one carefully hidden contract.

SPS bought TWO PBL (not much STEM) school programs.

This financing is Tricky, just like everything else from the MG-J admin.

Next up is the buy a "Performance Management Sword" and then the tricky "Impale yourself on it".

Looks like we are approaching a significant choice.

#1.) After 2+ years of the MG-J plans that have produce little but more admin and more spending and more centralized control. We vote for performance management and kill our schools.

OR

#2.) We recall board members and advocate for firing MG-J.

The choice is ours.

The Strategic Plan has been inadequately reported on. Much of it is inappropriate.

So what is Our Strategic Plan to do something about the ongoing damaging tricky MG-J TEAM ?

dan dempsey said...

..KSB ...Bravo Bravo !!! .KSB..

Kay said that in Meg's report that there had been growth in Central Administration and if we grew by $7M, shouldn't we be cutting $12M? Kennedy said he would get to that later in the meeting

Clearly a misinterpretation of the often used phrase "I'll get back to you on that".

Charlie Mas said...

If you're thinking that this time of budget crisis is not a good time to be paying full retail for the NTN contract, please remember the other consulting contracts the District has entered into this year.

The District is paying $756,300 to Education First for their help on the curriculum alignment project.

The District is paying Sylvan Learning Centers $982,000 for tutoring services.

The District is paying $395,000 for legal services regarding the Frisino lawsuit.

The District is paying $160,000 for data management for Special Education students' IEPs.

The District is paying $321,000 to A+ Advantage Point Learning for tutoring services.

There are others.

The District is paying how much to keep Broad Foundation interns on staff?

The District is paying how much for other consultants called in to help out with other initiatives?

Some initiatives languish or go unfunded (VAX migration, APP curriculum, Inclusive classrooms, alternative education audit, etc.) and some get millions of dollars thrown at them so they happen faster. How does the District decide which are worth the additional expense and which are not?

Anonymous said...

Charlie, Mr. Kennedy will have to get back to you on that.

I just caught Dan's remark about Don Kennedy's quote. I have heard that many times from Mr. Kennedy over the last year when questions are asked of him by the board members.

Interesting thing about it is that I have never heard him actually get back to anyone about anything.

And this is our supe's own guy who she brought with her from Charleston.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And how does the Board not track this and demand results from these consultants? How much is enough before the Board puts up the stop sign?

hschinske said...

One point three MILLION on outside tutoring? That's insane.

Helen Schinske

ParentofThree said...

"And this is our supe's own guy who she brought with her from Charleston'

And that is the problem in a nutshell.

Chris S. said...

Re: Charlie's numbers...well, I'm finally reading The Shock Doctrine which of course color everything I see & hear, but doesn't seem like this administration has a preference for projects that can be contracted out to private companies? I know some of those expenditures are a direct result of GWB & NCLB's hollowing of government, but what is STEM if not a pumping of taxpayer money into private hands? What kind of hollow shell will our public education be by the time we get leadership committed to PUBLIC education?