Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Wednesday Work Session:Budget

Well, it's another lollapolozza of a Work Session.  Here's the 99 page agenda.

There's so much here that I'm doing one thread on the Budget section and one on the SAP.

To note, the Work Session starts at 4:30 pm and the first topic is the Budget.  Looking at the attached documentation, I'd call this at least an hour's worth of work. And man, is it all over the place.  I'm not even sure I understand what they are talking about.  Page two has their focus items and it looks fairly straightforward until you start digging in.

1) Page 8 shows a length list of "Programs/Operations" which includes all the Option Schools.  There is a notation that nothing on the list is indicative of "cuts or adds" but simply "a gathering of information facts."

They provide two examples and one includes hourly rentals of buildings (which have seen audit issues before) with this notation:
Cost Recovery 
For the fiscal year 2013-14 (FY2014), use of District buildings was subsidized by thegeneral fund to the amount of $42,665 costs of using the buildings during off hours. In FY2015 a full time invoicing position was added and building rental rates were increased. Since FY2015, staffing and HVAC charges have been increased annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index. In FY2017 some rental rates were lowered to match City of Seattle rates for similar spaces. 

Rentals and Building Leases, and Hourly Building Rentals 
are jointly managed, complicating the allocation of costs. Revenue from Building Leases are deposited to the capital fund and are not part of the Building Rentals program in the general fund. 

Rates Waived for Community Use 
If the principal states “the activity supports youth education” and meets the District’s ethics and appropriate use policies and procedures, building rental rates are waived. There does not appear to be an audit function to verify use meets these requirements.
Overhead Cost Recovery Costs 
are recovered through building rental and HVAC rates, administrative fees, and custodial and security staff charges. It is not clear, however, if all overhead costs are recovered (e.g. billing/accounting, additional building wear and tear).
So much to unpack.

1) Why does SPS have to lower their rates to match the City?
2) The "Rates Waived for Community Use" has been abused by several principals in the past.  Why not have a form that requires proof of the use of the building?
3) "If all overhead costs are not being recovered" figure that out and charge more if you need to.  SPS simply cannot just pay all the costs for rentals especially not for building wear and tear.

Page 13 has Categorization of Special Programs for Review.  Included is "Highly Capable" which is what? HCC or Advanced Learning?

Under "Description" some programs have one and others just have some kind of comment.  Not very consistent.

Then, on page 15 of the Budget portion, there's a chart about how to analyze these programs including VAM (value added measurement), "propensity score matching" and "regression discontinuity."  I confess ignorance to the last two and I'd bet most of the Board would say the same thing.  Not sure why staff does this but it sure looks good.  However, as in most things public, know your audience.

"Propensity score matching"
In the statistical analysis of observational data, propensity score matching (PSM) is a statistical matching technique that attempts to estimate the effect of a treatment, policy, or other intervention by accounting for the covariates that predict receiving the treatment.

"Regression discontinuity"
In statistics, econometrics, political science, epidemiology, and related disciplines, a regression discontinuity design (RDD) is a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design that elicits the causal effects of interventions by assigning a cutoff or threshold above or below which an intervention is assigned. 

Page 17, a chart being used as example, if true, is alarming. It shows academic proficiency of different types of schools compared to others in the state.  K-8 elementary doesn't come out very well here.  Neither does K-8 middle as compared to regular middle school.  Hmmm. 

Page 20 - they want to rename Free and Reduced Lunch to "Equity Allocation."  Sure.

Then that page goes on:
 3. Inflate Equity allocation annually
4.  Inflate Per Student Allocation annually 


Then page 22 goes off to funding for staff and indicates how much SPS goes over state staffing allocations.   Kinda fascinating.

SPS has fewer teachers but more principals/assistant principals.  And fewer librarians but a lot more nurses (but how 9 nurses for a district our size could possibly be rational is a mystery).  Looking at counselors/mental health, it's not surprising to see far fewer than the state prototypical.  What's also interesting is the state staffing has a "parent coordinator/IA" category where the district is way under that number (105 vs 28.9).

Page 23 is eye-opening until you say to yourself, "Try living in Seattle."

On average we pay $32,000 per FTE (teacher) more than the state allocates in funding in 2017-18. 

For Sped, the district has way over the state prototype for certificated staff and IAs.  That seems odd to me because I thought the district didn't have enough Sped teachers.

Page 26 on the Economic Stabilization Account, you may recall that earlier this year the Board approved borrowing out it in the amount of $11.5M as long as the funds were paid back.

Due to significant vacancies throughout the year and the spending curtailment the entire amount could be repaid in 2017-18 to bring the fund to 3%, the minimum identified in the policy

What? The district now HAS that money.  Again, hmmm.


Anonymous said...

It's interesting that nothing in the slides addresses the fact that students who receive special education services might also fall into the highly capable designation. Those students are really the water carriers in terms of demonstrating the pitfalls of having our students in classes that are below their cognitive capability, in terms of behaviors and suspensions and the like. And, there appears to be no recognition that these students even represent a demographic. So, no pathway. No services. Choose: special ed services or advanced curriculum services. W

It is also interesting (Slide 22: Number of Special Education Teachers Far Exceeds Our State Allocation) that in a district that is known far and wide for the GenEd disengagement with and usually total ignorance about SPED and the second class status of SPED in every building in the District, that this slide was presented w/o that context. What could possibly be the driver of the need for *more* special education teachers in the district! Think about it! The fact that in this district there is little to no ownership of our students and their differentiation needs, by GenEd teachers.


Rona Wedmore said...

This’s just sad. Like, I’m a huge RUSSELL WILSON fan, and I believe that he’ll lend a hand in rebuilding Seattle Public School, because why not ? Especially if students like me know their tools. Such as going to pay to do my assignment for me, lending a shoulder with productivity evokes a sense of our potential. We know our ways carry the city.