Budget Survey?

This was forwarded to me by Connie Compton, KEA Vice President, who wanted members to be able to see what she did when she tried to fill out the KSD Budget Survey.  This was sent to the school board and Dr. Vargas.  I apologize that the chart didn’t transfer over as well as intended.  It came as an excel doc and was difficult to format.

I just attempted to complete the Budget Survey. I am disappointed and frustrated. I am unable to make the choices that I think best serve the needs of our students because the limited choices offered force me to cut certificated staff. This survey does not allow us to keep cuts away from our students and the classroom. Because the survey gives such limited options and does not present the full list of options developed by the school district or allow me to make my own suggestions and yet requires a specific point total, I am unable to use the online tool to give my input. Therefore, I am sending my input directly to you.

The students attending school in the Kent District School District today or entering kindergarten next fall only get once chance for their education. We need to provide a well-rounded education that meets the needs of all students. Cutting the Elementary PE and Music programs does not reach this end. As a 30-year veteran special education teacher, I know that school can be challenging and even frustrating for many students. PE and Music can be the positive in their school day. Other students find their passions starting in the elementary PE and Music programs, which leads to their connection to high school, their social group, and even their college path or their careers. Research clearly ties physical health and music to academic achievement. Likewise, research supports smaller class size at the elementary level. Teachers across our district will tell you that they are already stretched to their limits. Increasing class size and cutting elementary planning time will seriously impact the learning of our students.

Ideally, I believe that a supplemental levy should be put to the voters. This would increase funding by approximately $3.7 million, which would cut the need to reduce the budget by more than half. However, it is possible to reduce the budget without directly impacting classrooms or running a supplemental levy. Please refer to the attached spreadsheet (printed below) with my recommendations to reduce expenditures.

Thank you,
Connie Compton
Elementary Special Education Teacher,
KEA Vice-President,
Community Member & Voter, and Parent of 2 KSD Graduates

2011/2012 Budget Reductions for Consideration  
Central Office Budget Reductions as planned 2,762,032.00  
     
Energy Savings 592,568.00  
Mid-Day Kindergarten Transportation 127,400.00  
     
Reduce One Assistant Principal per High School               Rationale: Three Assistant Principals (or 2 and a Dean of Students) aligns with most high schools of similar size in our area. 542,388.00  
Middle School In-School Suspension 173,527.00  
Principal’s Travel Fund Carryover 248,951.00  
10 Furlough Days for Superintendent and Chiefs               Rationale: As KSD Certificated Staff are paid less than those in 22 surrounding districts, it is reasonable to reduce pay for administrators to a similar level. Furlough days can be taken in the summer without impact to the student school year. 76,020.00  
10 Furlough Days for District Management                        Rationale:  See above 323,560.00  
Return 11 TOSAs/Coaches/Facilitators to the classroom. Rationale: The professionals working in the trenches will agree that teachers in the classroom keeping class size low and programs intact will prove to be of the most value in student achievement. These staff can fill open positions in the schools. (Estimated savings based on the average cost per certificated staff of $80,963, although potential savings could be higher as most staff in these positions are typically higher paid staff). 890,593.00  
Cut “Travel” from the Budget                                                Rationale:  Priorities. Elementary PE and Music should be valued over administrator travel. 330,000.00  
Total Reduction 6,067,039.00  
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20 Responses to “Budget Survey?”

  1. kenteducationassociation Says:

    I have long been of the opinion that whatever KSD does in the way of cuts or reductions should be done as far away from children as possible. I am a teacher. I teach students. I see what happens when those decisions affect students. Do the chiefs (their new word to describe upper admin) actually see what happens in our classrooms? I have also long been of the opinion that we could cut one (or several) of our highest paid administrators and we, as teachers, would never notice. N-e-v-e-r n-o-t-i-c-e. We would still teach our children. We would still deliver a quality education to every student we can reach. It would not affect us at all. Eventually, we might notice that we’ve used the same curriculum for over a year or that we haven’t been told that there is a newer better way of teaching that we’ve never heard of and have to be trained in, but that would make them just something we might scratch our heads about; wondering what changed. Can we dare to dream?

  2. Concerned Says:

    Thanks for the above article. It sure reveals alot about wasteful spending. My questions are: Why can’t Vargas forgo his gas allowance per month? Isn’t it to the tune of $700-800 per month? Also, there’s too much weight up at the Central Office. Cutting administrators should be a paramount duty–but NOT cutting secretaries and personnel up there that make under $40,000–we need to lighten the load with those pulling six figures. Alot of suits, will little results. As a tax payer, I am appalled by what goes on up at Central administration and who gets paid what and for what? Do they work with children directly? How does their job impact our kids and their learning? Shuffling papers and delegating to the peons below IS NOT A FRICKING job that matters. NOT in these hard times should we be considering keeping those positions and if Vargas deems them necessary positions, then CUT their pay. Cutting those in the trenches will surely send them very close to the poverty line in earnings. Don’t even get me started on the TOSAs. Here’s a group of talented, capable certs, who could be put back into the classrooms to alleviate large class sizes. Also, how about those certs in buildings that basically do nothing to keep them occupied for a full 7.5 hours? They are often seen chatting with fellow pseudo administrators at a leisurely pace, while teachers hit the ground running once they are on campus. Remember teachers? The ones who are used as scapegoats, while the pseudo administrators stand around assisting principals with their workload. I am tired of watching these pseudos doing work that a CLASSIFIED person could do. Let’s see…set out donuts for an event that day, check on computer cables in classrooms, chat about how to add more to a teacher’s workload by delegating, delegating, delegating. Enough! The district talks about doing what’s best for kids. WHY don’t they practice what they preach?

  3. Guise Says:

    Hey folks. It’s obvious the survey was created in such a way that forces survy takers to cut certificated jobs. (And if you haven’t learned/noticed yet, the results from such survey will broadcast that the community wanted them to cut programs such as PE and Music). Voice your disgust, concerns, anger at the school board meetings. Don’t sit idly by and nod your head to what will cause more harm than good by NOT utilizing, cutting, reshifting those jobs up at Central admin. What’s with the principal travel expenses? Area school districts do not spoil their administrators as much as KSD does. In my building, the principal spends more time intimidating, threatening us, that NO WORK is done with pleasure. We put on our false smiles each day, but shake in our boots. The kids notice this too. Time to get rid of principals that behave this way. Time for a change. That time is NOW.

  4. building rep Says:

    *Gasp* You mean, actually make cuts that don’t punish teachers or students??? What kind of district would this be then? Amazing how easily this can be done. Way to go, Connie.

    • Cynic Says:

      The district heads don’t want to give up luxury. Why should they? Teachers will just roll over like they often do.

  5. Cynic Says:

    I seriously doubt the administration of KSD will take any furlough days or reduce their salaries and expenditures that affect their 6 figure salaried employees. Why? Because why would anyone in central admin. want to make a sacrifice for peons? They have it too good. I don’t care what they tell the public, I’ve seen it. let’s see….in these hard times, Dr. Vargas is remodeling his office. In these hard times, they still have TOSAs that could easily be brought back into the classroom to reduce class sizes. The district won’t be spending more money, just moving people where they are needed! Kids first! Isn’t that how it goes?

  6. just a bit upset Says:

    Budget Committee:

    I am a former KSD student, parent of a KSD student, and a teacher. My daughter is a fifth grade student who was excited to start her musical adventure this year, but that was put off, now on the chopping block once again. As I consider the options that are given on this survey, I have to wonder whether all other “low hanging apples” have been considered. I have chosen not to complete the survey based on the lack of communication of all considerations, but wanted to provide feedback for your process. I question the necessity of eliminating the programs specified without being sufficiently informed of all choices considered.

    I feel that the list of options are few in comparison to those that could be considered- I want to know more about the avenues being pursued at the administration level and other supports. The information available presents itself as one sided and overwhelmingly against the best interest of our students, salary freeze or reductions? What possible allowances are still in the budget that could be considered? Is there budgets for traveling expenses, furlough days, specifics on consolidation of positions may be helpful when the community is faced with such a burden of deciding our students’ future. General music, physical education, band, orchestra, sports are all avenues that help students engage, set goals, aspire to greatness and to experience success that supports academic success.

    The survey itself seems to be pre-determined based on the point assignments and the weight of each. I feel that the budget committee has already made up its mind and has decided on their priorities and it does not reflect the community and their priorities.

    • Me too Says:

      I agree with you on many points. Well said, btw. Personally, I won’t take the survey because it’s so biased. They weighed certain positions to be cut so you’d have to choose them in order to make it to 60 points (and why do I feel like I’m taking some sort of test? Points? dang).

      I feel the KSD budget committee has already made up their mind. This survey is an exercise in futility. It’s a good PR move on the district so those naive enough will feel they have a voice. If the community, parents, teachers, staff, truly had a voice and were listened to, you would see more certificated personnel teaching in the classrooms, and less personnel up at the head offices or within buildings acting like unofficial-official administrator assistants to the principals.

  7. Steve Says:

    Aside from the insane survey put out by KSD [the one I wouldn’t fill out even if they, uh, paid me], what boggles my mind is that I’ve been told the Auburn School Distirct could go three more years with the same levels of revenues and expenses before running out of money.

    How is it that KSD is on it’s death bed, yet again, and is asking the community [not to mention staff] to vote on who gets the ax?

    Why does KSD refuse to maximize their income regarding the levy lid? Who is in charge of that decision?

    Auburn received almost $3M levy equalization funds.

    There’s no way I’ll fill out the survey, but I’ll be in attendance Tuesday night.

    • Wondering Says:

      If I could give you three thumbs up, I would! I am wondering the same. Yes, the state is cutting back on funding, no doubt; however, looking at districts around us and how they are not “suffering” the way KSD supposedly will, makes one question the integrity of the KSD, once again.

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Steve, I applaud you. The obvious question has been for quite some time, how do other districts do it? How do they manage to pay their teachers more than KSD (as they ALL do). KSD always claims poverty but puts a smartboard in every classroom, and gives every middleschooler a laptop. At a recent school board meeting, our district athletic director gave a great presentation about the deplorable condition of our sports fields. He has come up with a plan that will bring us (you guessed it) up to the level of quality that the surrounding districts have and it will only cost a little over $20,000,000.00! A later speaker noted that the pictures in the packet showed moss, algae and dirt covering some of our sports courts as well as weeds, overgrowth and unkempt areas at even the most well used fields. As he pointed out, this is a maintainence problem and, if maintainence is not done properly, the new ones will look this way in no time. This is not a question of money as much as it is a question of PRIORITIES. KEA has long questioned the priorities of the Kent School District and is again doing so over the present proposed cuts.

  8. Weary Says:

    We lost so many positions with last year’s cuts. We will be expected to implement RTI without any extra support personnel. School improvement teams come out and ask what we need and we say more people. They chuckle and move on to the next topic. And now KSD wants to cut back on staff even further. KSD goals just don’t match up with the butchering they are doing. I am not filling out the survey and it doesn’t take much to convince colleagues not to either. BTW, did we really need to buy a testing program? (School City)

  9. Whatever Happened to "KSD--Commitment to Excellence" Says:

    This budget situation is absolutely disgusting, especially once you learn that the one-to-one laptop program will be moving up to the high schools next year! Yes, that’s right, we don’t have enough money for music or P.E. for our elementary school students, middle schools may not have librarians next year, but every 7th, 8th, and 9th grader in the district will have his or her own laptop!

    Now, I know the argument will be that the TECHNOLOGY levy passed last year has to be used for technology, but I also seem to remember KSD telling us that the technology levy would be to maintain what we have, not to add new programs. In fact, here’s the quote from the Kent Reporter, January 19, 2010:

    “The money being requested by the district is the same amount voters approved in 2006 and the district emphasizes it is a replacement of the current levy and not a new tax.

    According to Chief Information Officer Thuan Nguyen, the tech levy would pay to maintain what the district has done since the passage of the last levy and continue to pay for replacement machines to keep current the technology used by students.

    ‘We’re not using the 2010 levy to add new initiatives,’ Nguyen said. ‘We’re not in a position to ask more of the community.'”

    Of course, these are the same people who also told us that passage of the Maintenance and Operations Levy last year would mean that we get to keep essential programs such as music and class size which are now on the chopping block. From earlier in the same article:

    “According to the district, failure to pass the levy would affect transportation services, supplies, athletics, music and drama, safety officers and class size.

    “One hundred percent of the funding for athletics and activities comes from levy support,” said Dave Lutes, director of district athletics and activities, adding that all coaches’ salaries and stipends are paid through the levy.

    Levy funding also pays for approximately one in every five staff positions in the district, including teachers to reduce class size at the elementary school level.

    ‘It affects every student in every classroom,’ Hanks said.”

    I knew that the district often bent the truth when it came to promises it made the teachers and staff, but the reversal here with the taxpayers of our district is almost unbelievable.

    (By the way, in case you want to check out the article for yourself, visit:
    http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/south_king/ken/news/82087362.html)

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Rats, a teacher with a good memory! Isn’t it terrible when people actually remember the things we’ve been told? I remember a couple of years ago, Mike McNett was chastised for his continued use of “facts,” to argue with the district. It’s hard to mount a good defense against the indefensible when the opposition keeps playing that “truth to power” game. Good job of keeping them accountable.

  10. theresa Says:

    Thank you to all the community members that asked the right questions tonight. Why is the survey fixed in such a way that in order to get to 60 you must cut music and PE programs? Why doesn’t the Superintendent and his cabinet take 10 furlough days in the summer? Why doesn’t Dr. Vargas give up his transportation stipend?And MOST importantly, why hasn’t the KSD asked the KEA to help in making difficult decisions? We aren’t educational partners, as they like to call us, we are the 10% partners! They said we would be invited to be on the district’s strategic plan committee- 64 members and only 6 are teachers! They invite us to the budget hearings along with the rest of the public with as much notice! Their timeline is so short, it shows they don’t want to hear any voices other than their own. But my question is…why doesn’t the school board call the KSD on this? Why do they feel compelled that they have to do the bidding of the district? They need to be leaders. And I would like to know how can we help them do just that?

  11. Steve Says:

    What we have in the KSD right now is a microcosm of what is happening in other states and at the national level.

    A cynical person might think that there is a larger strategy here.

    The strategy might appear to be: choke off funding, claim a crisis, and then see how many people we can fire to shrink the size of the KSD workforce. This could be the next best thing to actually eliminating union rights.

    Think about it. KSD decides not to use levy equalization to bring in approximately $3.7M in additional funds. [By comparison, Auburn received approximately $3M this year, so $3.7M might be low.]

    Mr. Berrios proposes and the Board approves reducing the ending fund balance to 3.75%, providing an additional $3M in funds, but the District offers no evidence that they’ve used that money.

    This equals more than the $6M KSD claims to be short, but it is not discussed by anyone.

    Oh yeah, and there’s been a running balance of about $20M sitting in the bank for last several years.

    [There was, of course, a long line of people speaking the other night ready to make any number of sacrifices to help the District]

    The only way KSD can see fit to “balance the budget” is to reduce the number of employees. And rather than cutting from the top on down, they cut from the bottom up.

    A nationally known Senator recently said of budget cuts, that if people had to lose jobs, “So be it.” This seems to be the attitude of KSD as well.

    Why take furlough days when we can cut out programs and reduce the size of our workforce? Five-year-olds never show up at Board meetings or the District office. Why postpone adoptions, travel, consultants, technology, etc., when we can fire people?

    And, the $6M they are looking to cut equals about 2.4% of the total operating budget. Hard to imagine that the only way to cover that is to eliminate an entire P.E. or music program. And that’s to say nothing of the counselors, librarians, seventh grade sports, et al that would be eliminated, too.

    It was unfortunate how the meeting ending… There were comments saying that personnel make up 87% of the budget. That the proposals on the survey did not impact the contract, and that those on the rejected list did impact contracts. And that P.E. is not required. [The comments on contractual impact and P.E. were misstatements of fact. P.E. is required, and planning time and length of workday are clearly contractual issues.]

    Regarding P.E. requirements, go to: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=28A.230.040

    The clear implication was that KSD has too many employees and that programs are being offered that don’t matter. That’s kind of an indictment on the management of KSD if true. But I suspect these statements are not accurate.

    KSD School Board, please send the KSD Administration back to the drawing board.

  12. Spyhopperabc Says:

    Well said Steve!

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