Board Votes To Approve Budget Sham

Despite the presence of over 200 passionate KEA members at Wednesday’s special session of the School Board on the 2010-11 budget, the KSD Board has voted to authorize the $9 million in budget cuts that will mean the elimination of 60 certificated positions, elementary music programs, librarians, IT professionals, and counselors at all levels.  While the Board did also move to reduce the “Rainy Day” fund by a small amount, it still lacked the intestinal fortitude to use the money they have been hoarding for the last several years to save vital jobs and programs.  Once again, their bond rating was deemed more important than the welfare of Kent kids.  The bright side is that new Board member Karen DeBruler voted against the cuts, and several Board members did express anger and frustration at having to make the decision due to unfunded state and federal mandates.  To many in Kent, however, these words are hollow and empty, devoid of meaning or significance when the final vote was taken and the cuts were approved.

For more than an hour, KEA members spoke with both passion and emotion about the impact these cuts will have not just on themselves, but on the students they work with each day.  Several painted a real and clear picture of the impact these cuts will have on students immediately next year.  Others, including several Kent Education Association officers and representatives, spoke about how the KSD consistently spends less per pupil than surrounding districts, that the KSD’s “Rainy Day” fund continued to grow even after last year’s budget crisis and strike, and how the KSD budget is filled with hidden dollars that go unspent from year to year. 

Their words seemed to have some impact, but not as much as was hoped.  What will happen in the upcoming months, as RIF notices are sent out and actual budget amounts are adjusted to fit the money TBD coming from the state, remains to be seen.  Let’s hope that no one in Kent will forget these decisions and the warning tonight that was sounded but largely ignored.

More details are forthcoming, but you can check out reports from KING-5 and KOMO-4 news here and here.


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11 Responses to “Board Votes To Approve Budget Sham”

  1. Student Says:

    I think I can speak for any of my fellow students in saying, “I am disappointed.” This is supposed to be a SCHOOL DISTRICT, created and maintained for the sole, exclusive purpose of educating the students. Not for the purpose of maintaining this totalitarian bureaucracy that exists today, and certainly not at the students’ expense.

    Someone please send this to our wonderous leader, Dr. Vargas. I cannot do so myself without losing my anonymity and risking retribution from school authorities.

    Most esteemed Dr. Vargas,

    This is one of your students telling you to get your act together and start re-assessing what needs to be done. Solve the problems. Don’t pretend to because that’s easier than creating a lasting solution. If it’s a problem, them pretending to fix it with an ineffectual solution is turning your back on your responsibility and your duty.

    I can’t make this any clearer.

    This system exists not for you but for us. The students. If you can’t accept that, then resign in favor of someone who can. What is good for the students may not be good for you. Which is your priority? Your responsiblities, or your own personal benefit?

    Do the right thing.

  2. theresa Says:

    The district continues to play a shell game with their financial reports. KEA and WEA have the real figures. The cuts amount to less than $4 million. The district gets to raise it’s levy lid to generate an additional $2.7 million in funds. The school board gave up 1.25%- about $3.3 million. Where’s the crisis in that? Seems like programs can be sustained and so can jobs. We can continue to provide a quality education to every child in Kent.
    Our children deserve better than an administration that will lie to it’s school board members leaving them to believe it’s a real crisis and $9 millionhas been sliced out of future funding.
    Over 21 speakers at that meeting. Counselors, librarians, tech specialists, classroom teachers, and parents. Lisa Brackin-Johnson, KEA president, and Connie Compton,KEA Vice-President , told the school board that they were being lied to…that the numbers that the district is giving them are not the same as the numbers KEA and WEA got from the OSPI website (all districts must submit their financial report where it is posted for public records). School board response to the speeches was to uncap another .25 percent- bringing their sacrifice of the sacred rainy day fund to 1.25% of their budget- generating an additional $660K. In the next breath, they voted 4-1 to cut 1 FTE from every elementary in the form of counselors, librarians, tech specialists, literacy coaches, and math coaches. Thanks to Mrs. deBruler who was the lone vote against.
    School board members are not listening. They don’t believe they are being lied to by the district. Hence, Tim Clark’s passionate speech about the reasons why they have to make these painful cuts….Tim- look at the numbers! You are being lied to and we look to you to meet with KEA and WEA and see the truth for yourself. $9 million in cuts has not occurred, nor will it. Ask Pat Sullivan, our representative in the State House.
    Over 215 KEA members attended this work session. More would have come but the gates to the back parking lot were locked and an attempt to keep members out of the meeting room (which was later relaxed) kept over 60 members lined up outside the meeting room for 20 minutes.
    Kent teachers are tired of the lies. We’re tired of a district that refuses to hear us or include us in the decision making. And we are tired of the lack of respect. We, the KEA, represent 1800 educational experts who bring a quality education to every student in Kent. We deserve better.

  3. Shocked Says:

    I went to my first school board meeting. The SB president told the audience that there would be NO SIDE TALKING. I thought she acted very unfriendly but could respect that rule. HOWEVER, as each speaker gave their speech, I saw first hand how RUDE, Mr Berrios, Dr Vargas, and the woman next to Vargas, behaved!! Their arrogance was palpable as they ignored the speakers and had their own SIDE TALKING going on!

    Dr Vargas, was not a good role model for the young teenagers who also attended that night.

    Shame on the board and Dr Vargas!!!

  4. Concerned and Confused Says:

    As a building representative attending the board meeting, again I listened to the KSB and district officials explain away the finances of the district. Some of my building members are asking me to clarify the discrepancies between what the association maintains as available monies and the reserve fund balance the KSD insists “just isn’t there”.
    Even Tim Clark more than inferred the cuts will be coming sooner or later. My ability to explain this completely to KEA members in my building is limited and believe me I have been “involved” in numerous activities over the past few years. Still confusion prevails. Although other districts are not making cuts many are. I am trying to drum up support and educate my members. Please continue to inform us by speaking to the comments that the KSB members make insisting that there is no “hidden money”, when KEA reports that there is. If it were “simple” math then we all could understand with clarity as opposed to continued confusion.

  5. KSD educator Says:

    There is no “partnership” in Kent. For months now we’ve said respect or lack there of is an issue. KSD does not value it’s teacher and that is a shame. This district could be so much more, but administration does not allow it or want to hear it.

  6. Furious Says:

    I too saw how silly Dr. Vargas acted that evening! Giggling on the sidelines with his secretary? Good heavens, he is NOT what I would consider an intelligent leader. Also, Berrios has got to go. What has that man really attempted to do for this school district and its teachers, besides nod his head and make patronizing comments and unfilled promises? All these board members are elected officials, but have NO CLUE what a teacher’s job entails. One or two visits here or there will not paint a detailed enough picture for these board members. They need to visit, but also L-I-S-T-E-N!

    To the one board member (Ms. DeBruler) who did not vote in favor of these cuts, our hats are off to you! You are the only shining beacon for these kids and you have shown more respect to the teachers, educators, of KSD than anyone else from the headquarters.

  7. Next Steps Says:

    What are the next steps? The board believes there isn’t extra money. Auburn saved jobs by Furlough days. What if EVERYONE took a Furlough day to save jobs?

    • 30 in my class Says:

      I think administration should take furlough days–NOT teachers. They make well over $105,000 EACH, so they can afford it, plus they don’t work as hard as we do in the trenches. If our jobs, as teachers, were easy, anyone could teach. Yet, surprise, surprise, many administrators would be horrible at it. One of the coaches and non-classroom certificated staff in our building admitted that their jobs were dream jobs. They can take a break when they want to (no bladder infections), and they do not have to deal with parents, report cards, paperwork galore, etc.

    • 30 in my class Says:

      I mentioned those coaches, only because they seem to fall under administration.

    • theresa Says:

      I’ll be glad to take a fulough when the rainy day fund is down to $6 million and every administrator has give up a week. then I’ll give up a day. And only if every member of the KEA is still employed. Giving up our positions that serve children while these guys go on a junket to Florida later next month is insane!

      • 30 in my class Says:

        I don’t think any KEA member should have to give up a day. Ever!! We bargain too many long hours and days to get what little we get. Once we start a precedent of “giving up days”, we are back at square one. I would hope my colleagues would not give up anything. We do that already w/ our PERSONAL TIME reading SIOP books, attending classes until 8 p.m, etc. My own children do not recognize me after all the hours I work. I have to wear a nametag so my children can identify who I am when I walk in the front door.

        So, please do NOT volunteer me to give up a part of my salary because you think it’s a way to get along w/ administration. It’s THEIR TURN to be nice.

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