2011-2012 Budget, Part 1

I had hoped to just put forth some ideas of what you might possibly advocate for the 2011-2012 budget. But there's a lot of pre-information that I think is important to put out there (dates, overview, etc.) so this first part is that information.

The budget shortfall (gap) is $36.6M.

Staff is recommending increasing the non-grant Strategic Plan spending by $321,476 but say that the impact to the gap is a decrease of $254,546 "due to things already assumed in the gap e.g. Special Ed. This is one statement that I have a hard time believing and even if it is so, that leaves $67k to increase the gap. The gap should not be increased at all for any reason. If we have no money, there is no money to expand.

It looks from the district's own timeline document that they are somewhat behind in the process.
  • The Central Budget submittals were due between 1/18-1/28. I believe Don Kennedy, COO, said that staff was working over the weekend to have the final submittals to the Board this week.
  • As noted elsewhere, Work Session on the Budget, Feb. 9th
  • Individual School Budget Development is scheduled from Feb. 18th to March 14th.
  • State Economist updated revenue forecast - March 17th
  • "Budget & Staffing Loading & Analysis for Possible RIF" is from March to May.
  • Budget Adjustments Based on Legislative Actions - April
I would say that having Mid-Winter Break in the middle of this process doesn't help.

Recommended Budget Timeline After March
  • Prep - April to May
  • Intro of budget - June 15th
  • Public Hearing on Budget - June 16th
  • Board Action on Recommended Budget - July 6th

Okay, so what do we know, in general, about the budgeting process? There is certainly the timeline from developing the district's budget to school budgets to what happens at the state level for funding and then finally approving a budget for the next school year.

I have heard a couple of Board members say something that struck me (and is at the heart of governance): they said that the budget wasn't their decision. Now this strikes me as odd because in Board policy B61.00, it states that the Superintendent and staff "Prepare and submit the annual budget" and that the Board "Approve the annual budget".

I do not read that as "the budget isn't my decision". I read that as a joint proposition of collaboration, compromise and consensus. So as long as the budget balances, they have to approve it? The Board could not say to the Superintendent and staff, "This is not what we have found consensus on and will not approve it?" Maybe not.

I also wanted to check out what the Superintendent policies had to say and guess what? That link isn't working and hasn't been even before the new website got underway. I did see this under the Board's Fiscal Management area of Policies and Procedures about budgeting:

G 01.00 Be aligned with the multi-year fiscal plan and the strategic plan

I didn't know that in 2009 that the Strategic Plan had been codified into Board policies. That certainly does give the Superintendent more leverage.

Moving on to budget document, Budget Discussion and Initial Recommendations, we see
Key Points:
  • the first one should be no surprise - "Our reductions must allow the strategic foundation that has been built to stay in place (i.e. VAX, Performance Management, ADW, and assessment system)." This is a HUGE amount of money in the budget. I can only say the majority of this money is not going in the classroom.
  • second - "The impact of the cuts in Olympia will be felt at every level of the school district." And they are right but they didn't exactly add "we will be looking to keep the majority of cuts away from classrooms".
  • third - "We will be acting in face of uncertainty about the total size of cuts necessary" -
  • fourth - "We do not have complete flexibility in how we can apply the money we have." Here they don't say grants but I believe that is what they are referencing.
  • last - "We are committed to supporting employees impacted by job losses." Pretty talk but really, what does that mean?
  • in yet another document they ask the Board to consider, "Did work exist before the Strategic Plan?" which is important because there are a couple of things that did exist before the SP.
  • The big one is the work for the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center (SBOC - the 6-12 school for recent immigrant students). Promises have been made and broken to the community for a long time (probably at least a decade). Their capital funds, voted on by taxpayers in BEX II, got reduced from $14M to $10M. I have never seen any other BEX project stalled out or its money reduced other than SBOC. The head of the Bilingual Student Services, Veronica Gallardo, was quite clear in how hard it would be to build the trust of this community if the district goes back yet again on its promises to them. Anyone who believes that the district has made a promise to them and wants it fulfilled with this budget should get in line behind SBOC.
How Does SPS Compare?

Expenditure by State Activity:
- Seattle Central Adm 8.9% (with coach adjustment), 7.4% ; every other district under 6% except Tacoma at 6.3%
- Seattle "other support" - about the same
- Teaching - Seattle, lowest in the region with 58.4%; Bellevue at 66.85%
- Teaching Support - Seattle, 9.1%; Tacoma the highest at 10.4% and Kent the lowest at 7.9%
- Unit Administration (principals, etc.) - Seattle at 5.7% with Bellevue at the lowest of 5.3% and Kent at the highest with 6.8%

In Key Staffing areas, Seattle is, across the board, higher than all the other Puget Sound districts surveyed.
- HR - Seattle, 39.1%; Bellevue, 11.5%
- Budget - Seattle, 8%; Bellevue, 3%
- Payroll - Seattle, 10%; Tacoma and Kent, 5.5%
- Procurement - Seattle, 5.3%; Kent at 7%

Keep in mind that Seattle is, of course, the largest school district in the state. However, the State Auditor even says that SPS's Central operates much larger than it should. Also, the expansion of the central administration has been in large part because of renaming of positions and grant-funded positions. However, it leaves open the issue of what happens when the grants run out? In the case, for example, of the Broad Residents, we took them on under the General Fund. I suspect this would be the case in most of the other ones (like the new HR hire under the TIF grant).

Board of Directors

As I mentioned previously, I queried all the Directors about if they had made any personal decisions or any informal Board decisions. I asked this because of discussions during the Work Sessions that seemed to indicate how some Board members were leaning.

Martin-Morris - From his pov, nothing is off the table but he stated "I am reluctant to cut in the areas of SPED and Early Learning." He also stated that community can always communicate with the Board up until the amendments are due.

Maier - Peter sent a long e-mail but basically said it is too early in the process to have any single budget item in mind.

DeBell - Said "it is a negotiated and iterative process" and want to work towards compromise. He also said, "I am waiting to see the full array of cuts available-Central based, Strategic Plan, negotiated with SEA or other labor partners, and WSS and judge their probable impacts before voicing my final opinion about how much we can commit to school budgets which are my highest priority."

Carr - "It is important to be clear for the sake of understanding the process that the Board role here isn't a decision making role. We are offering our guidance and giving staff a sense of where we are as they progress with the staff work on the budget." She stated nothing was off the table except the red items on the Budget Tool document as they have too long a timeline to get thru before the budget is due. School athletics are in the red zone but she did say the gap still isn't closed and they may have to reconsider them.

Sundquist - nothing is off the table. He is trying to ensure that most of the cuts occur in the central office and shared services areas. He supports reducing the Strategic Plan. He hopes to restore some of the SBOC funding and Early Learning initiatives as well as figuring out the implementation challenges of the Special Education ICS.

So, with all this in mind, the next part of this Budget thread will be what I would suggest.


dan dempsey said…
Melissa if you think SPS is late, try OSPI.

OSPI was to have information for the legislature available first week of January in regard to Common Core State Standards. They provided this information three days before Friday's hearing on HB 1443.

If you think there is a funding shortfall apparently OSPI is unaware, OSPI proposes spending $187 million on the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Here is an example of the letter, I sent to each House Ed Committee member for tomorrow's executive session on HB 1443.

Phone calls are urgently needed to protest this boondoggle. Students struggle as administration expands. Cut teachers and expand administration, what a plan.
dan dempsey said…
Oppose HB 1443.
==> Call 1-800-562-6000

You can say something as simple as
"Vote No on HB 1443"

Takes less than 120 seconds. It's toll free!

Note: the State diverted $208 million headed directly to local school districts from the Feds.... Now the proposal from OSPI is to spend $187 million on the Common Core State Standards Initiative ... Insanity reigns. ... Call now to protest passage of HB 1443.
ParentofThree said…
What makes me so angry is I clearly remember last year during this process the board stating that we will have a shortfall this year, yet no non-essential spending (new website) was put on hold to help ease the pain this year.

So here we go....again.
Dorothy Neville said…
Link to presentation of 1/26.

Note that Green means agreed upon cut. Red means staff recommended and board said absolutely no. Athletics and selling KNHC are red. Yellow means explore further and we hope we can find cuts to make. JV and Freshman athletics are here.

Note that eliminating non-grant summer school falls into "instructor support" whereas eliminating evening school falls into "central in school" category. That confuses me. Is summer school for teachers?
Jet City mom said…
Parent of three- this also makes me so angry I can hardly see straight.
When many if not most families have had to cut everything that is non-essential in a poor economy ( & some have even had to cut essentials), taking pay cuts, reduced hours & juggling needs to get by, it makes you sick to your stomach to see a public organization so indifferent to the public.

Not offering summer school IMO will increase the drop out rate.

A few years ago, my daughter was working hard to get caught up in math so she could take chemistry in the fall for jr year.
She & some of her friends enrolled in a course @ Franklin, in order to do so.
( these students had been taking AP classes, but were also in remedial math- despite not ever having flunked a class, I mention this to emphasize that while there may be " two" Garfields, there are many students working hard to raise the bar for themselves)
The teacher @ Franklin, did not show up, no other teacher was assigned & it took a week ( for me) to find another class ( @ Ingraham) that they could take.
I have to brag here- not only did my D take chemistry, she received an A & even is thinking about choosing it for her major in college.

When students are unable to make up gaps in their academics despite their own efforts to do so, I expect that a good portion will come to the conclusion that it isn't worth the effort when the school district that is supposed to be all about " the achievement gap", isn't willing to walk their talk.
ParentofThree said…
I googled innovative cuts for schools and came across an article on About.com where they asked for ideas.

Check out of few of them, so familiar.

Too Many Administrators and Programs
In the State of Mississippi there are too many highly paid administrators. There are too many school districts in the state with several administrators for each district. But most importantly is the purchasing of "programs" instead of teacher created and planned instruction.

Have administrators take an extra week of unpaid "furloughs," not teachers. To fill in on needed tasks, ask for volunteer help from the community.

Stop Overtesting
School districts can save millions by doing less state and district tests. Cut down on them, do only truly essential ones, or combine them so there's less.
Jet City mom said…
I agree we need to cut back on testing- teachers know how the students are doing-let them teach.

The money is being spent in our district in ways that do not directly affect the students.
What is the point of that?

Have you read Danny Westneats column about the Federal Way district?

"We demand you take rigorous classes here," he said. "We have turned the model upside down. I don't know of a single other school district that has done this."

It turns out the number of Federal Way juniors and seniors taking advanced-track classes — such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate — has gone up an eye-popping 71 percent in the space of a single semester....

The new rule is that students in grades 6 through 12 who pass the state standardized test, formerly known as the WASL, are automatically signed up for advanced learning in that subject. A sophomore who gets a "meets standard" or higher in say, reading, goes directly to AP or honors English.

You can opt out with a note from home. So parents do retain a choice. But the terms of the choice were reversed.

"Classes that have traditionally only served a handful of the privileged," as Neu dubbed them, suddenly are expected for the majority.

"The spirit is that it's no longer an exclusive club," says Randy Kaczor, principal at Todd Beamer High School.

Some of the kids, learning they had been drafted into AP, said, "You're kidding me, I'm not an AP kid," says Margaret Peterson, head of the math and science academy at Beamer. "The answer to that was simple: Yes, you are."

What Federal Way was facing is a huge issue in almost all school districts. Around 80 percent of their students meet the state standards in reading and writing. But only 30 percent take advanced, college-prep-type classes. That means half of all kids in Federal Way are considered educational successes by the state, yet weren't challenged enough to be serious contenders for four-year college.
StepJ said…

Thank you for the link.

Was there an explanation at the meeting for the savings on pg. 39?

At the very top it lists proposed savings of 6-12 million for Central Office Reductions, .5 to .7 million savings for Mid-Central Reductions, and .3 million for Freeze Non-Rep Step Increases.

Yet only 4.8 - 5 million in Potential Savings.

6.0 - 12 million
.5 - .7 million
.3 million

Does not add up to 4.8 million even on the low end.

Was an explanation given as to why to the SAVINGS don't add up?
StepJ said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Step J, good question. It is very difficult to take all these documents given out at the Work Sessions and get a clear picture. I think that's by design. If the Board has a clear picture, they must have some other document because it doesn't all add up (obviously).
Dorothy Neville said…
StepJ, originally, staff recommended cutting $4M from central. The board pushed them to consider how to manage both $6M and $12M. So putting $4M there does add up for both ends of the range. There were several places where the numbers didn't add and the staff said "uh oh, that is wrong." I don't recall for sure, but I think this was one of those. But really, staff mentality is more along the lines of cutting $4M from central.
Anonymous said…
so, what is the bottom line? how many teacher rifs are we talking about? how do they plan on doing the rifs and bump up phase three hiring to june to catch those 'good canidates'? it all feels a bit ominous to me.
-parent and teacher in sps

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