Budget Numbers KSD Doesn’t Want You To Know

For several months the Kent School District administration has been using various forms of the media to advance their financial picture. While it is true that they have shared many facts, it seems that Mark Twain was right, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” The KSD picks and chooses numbers to share, but never tells quite the whole story. First let’s look at numbers currently on the KSD website under “Budget Information” in a link “Responding to Questions from our Community.” They provide the following table

 

  Administration expenses as a percentage of total expenditures
Kent School District

 

12.80%

 

Average of districts with 20,000 students or more

13.00%

 

State Average

12.90%

 

These facts are true, but the rest of the facts tell so much more! Sixth graders learn in math that averages can be skewed when one number in the set of data is significantly higher. This is true in the considering the Administration Expenditures of the “Big 9” (districts over 20,000). Seattle spends 15.1% of its budget on Total Administration. Kent actually spends the second highest percentage in the Big 9. In fact of the largest 30 districts in our state, Kent is near the top in spending on total administration.

Another fact left off the district’s website is that Kent spends 7.3% of its budget on Building Administration. This is the highest amount spent in the Big 9. In fact, it is the highest percentage spent on building administration in the biggest 30 school districts in Washington. The average for the Big 9 is 6.5% and the average for the next size code is 5.7%. If Kent cut the building administration budget to 6.3%, they would save nearly $2.3 million. This is the equivalent of over 25 teaching positions.

Now here are some numbers KSD does not put on their website. Kent spends 68.7% of its budget on teaching and teaching support. In the Big 9 districts, this is near the bottom. Here’s a table of what some of our neighboring districts spend (some are in the Big 9 and some are in the next size code down)

 

% of Budget on Total Teaching

Federal Way

73.4%

Lake Washington

72.2%

Bellevue

71.9%

Tacoma

71.5%

Renton

71.5%

Auburn

70.9%

Kent

68.7%

 

If Kent put an equal percentage of its budget into teaching, as does Federal Way, there would be over $11 million more spent on teaching. Oddly enough, this would fund approximately 120 teaching positions, or almost the number that Kent is proposing to lay off in a Reduction in Force (RIF). How does the district administration justify this? This enrages me as a member of the KEA Leadership, as a teacher and as a parent of a Kent School District student. When asked to respond to proposals from KEA to put more funds into teaching, the administrative bargaining team has repeatedly responded, “It’s not our priority.” What is the priority of the Kent School District? Are administrators ‘successfully preparing students for their future’ or are teachers? The Kent School District needs to get it’s priorities straight and they need to tell the whole story when they presents the financial picture.

Clearly, it is time for the Kent School District to make teaching students its number one priority. Increasing the percentage of the budget spent on teaching will mean teachers have time to plan strong lessons for their students. It will mean that the Kent School District will work towards effective class size and caseload. And it will mean that teachers in Kent are not the lowest paid in the region. Kent has the funding to do so. Teaching students needs to be their priority as it is ours.

           

Connie Compton

KEA Vice President

 

*All facts and figures in this article are from school district budgets available on the OSPI website.

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One Response to “Budget Numbers KSD Doesn’t Want You To Know”

  1. Jenny Sluys Says:

    Connie-
    You did a great job on this comparison- I used parts of what you stated to send to the school board and hopefully I’ll get some answers- don’t worry- I didn’t include your name.

    Keep up all the hard work you do with KEA!

    Jenny

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