KSD Budget Crisis/Fiasco Continues

Budget cuts are on the horizon, as we all know.  KSD continues to claim that they must cut $9 million from our District’s budget before the 2010-11 school year.  With the help of the WEA, KEA’s projections are that KSD’s budget deficit will be more like $6 million.  (KEA’s budget projections have tended to be dead on when it comes to forecasting the KSD’s annual budget and expenditures.  Last year, KEA’s projection of the ending “Rainy Day Fund” was off by just $600k, while KSD’s projection underestimated their ending balance by over $5 million.) 

Something smells rotten about the whole process underway.  While the KSD claims they are working collaboratively with KEA and other interest groups, the District created a severely flawed and biased budget survey without any KEA input.  (See previous post below.)   The KSD claims that they are working to get community input on budget decisions, and yet they gave less than two weeks’ notice for a Community Budget Forum.  As a result,  less than 100 people attended to give their input.  Does this mean that the KSD’s budget cuts are not of interest or importance to KEA members or the Kent community?  Of course not!  Now, the KSD Administration is pushing the School Board to make decisions regarding what items to cut in a hasty manner.  The Board has shown some caution, as when it questioned recently why numbers provided by District Administrators on consecutive nights were different.  New School Board member Tim Clark as well as Bill Boyce have frequently questioned what is being presented to them more openly in public meetings.  Is that enough to prevent disaster?

Still, it seems that KSD’s main priorities are to protect pet projects, shiny new programs, and the ridiculously over-inflated Budget Fund Balance (aka “Rainy Day Fund”).  KEA continues to call for cuts to be made as far away from students as possible.   At the core of our argument is the question: “Why is the District buying new classroom phones or paying outside lawyers and consultants at the expense of laying off certificated staff and teachers that have a much larger and more direct impact on students’ education?”  KEA continues to call for real and meaningful input from all stakeholders (not just our union) to set the District’s spending priorities.  Another equally important question: “If the KSD will end the year with $9 million in reserve funds above their self-imposed 5% reserve, and they have a $9 million projected budget shortfall, then why do we need cuts?”  KEA asserts that the “Rainy Day” fund balance above that all-important 5% should be used to prevent staff layoffs that will result in diminished instruction and services for our students.

Meanwhile, the School Board again met to look over the list of potential budget cuts at a Special Sessoin on Monday, 4/19.  Once again, the Board questioned why numbers and documentation presented to them by KSD Administration had changed since the previous meeting.   While the School Board met, KEA discovered that at one building, an administrator actually told a committee of teachers and certificated staff in their building to choose which of their colleagues to give a layoff to!  More examples of rumors of program cuts and upcoming layoffs have been announced before the School Board has even made any final decisions! 

It’s time for KEA members and the community to stand up and cry foul!  It’s time to get involved and let our voices be heard!  It’s time for the citizens of Kent to demand full transparency and an honest, open dialog on budget decisions that make kids the priority.

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One Response to “KSD Budget Crisis/Fiasco Continues”

  1. Concerned Says:

    I think it’s time to research and divulge how much Dr. Vargas makes, how much Larry Miner makes, and every other person up at the headshed whose salary exceeds $100,000. Then, I want the parents to know that their children may be expected to pay out of pocket should their child want to participate in sports, that their child is sitting (or not, I heard some classrooms do not have the space or enough furniture so every kid gets a desk!) in classrooms that exceed 29 students, etc. So, a child is expected to have less and less access to a great education, because the headshed people enjoy fat salaries or they just don’t want to use the $$$$$ stored in their fat piggy banks (notice the plural form)!!

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