Archive for April, 2011

Report from the KSD Budget Hearing

April 12, 2011

At the KSD Budget Hearing on March 29th, Superintendent Vargas and Business Officer Richard Stedrey reviewed the budget and proposed reductions using a worst case scenario forecast.

Audience members expressed a high level of concern regarding the budget survey process and proposed cuts, including the long-term impact of many of the cuts.  The speakers included parents, students, educators and community members. Participants raised a wide range of questions and suggested alternatives. Concerns regarding PE and Music and maintaining K-4 class size were frequently addressed. Many speakers noted the connection between Music and PE and increased academic performance. One elementary student raised $15 at a garage sale to save the PE program and a middle school student said, “Music is my life.”

Kent Education Association Vice-President Connie Compton addressed the School Board and recognized the challenges of the school district budget. She continued, “As the education professionals who work with your students every day in the classrooms across the district, we feel it is absolutely imperative that we be an integral part of the conversation. We respectfully ask the board to invite us to the table to honestly and openly discuss possible alternatives to navigate these troubled economic waters while continuing to provide a high quality and well-rounded education to each and every one of our students. Together we can find a way to reduce the budget while minimizing the impact on our students.”

Audience questions included:

  • What is the end-goal driving budget decisions?
  • What are the priorities and values of our community?
  • Have decisions already been made?
  • Why are Elementary PE and Music being considered?
  • Why do administrators earn top pay for our region, but teachers are at the bottom?
  • Why are neighboring districts able to balance their budgets without impacting classrooms?
  • Why do the Auburn and Tahoma districts have better trust with their communities?
  • Will cutting the middle In-School Suspension program limit discipline options and have unintended consequences?
  • Is PE mandated by the state?
  • Is eliminating PE a contractual issue?

Suggestions for alternative budget reductions or raising revenue:

  • Make cuts that do not impact students.
  • Reduce salary at the top.
  • Run a supplemental levy to raise $3.7 million dollars.
  • 10 summer furlough days for administrators.
  • Cut administrative travel.
  • Freeze administrative pay.
  • Eliminate outside consultants.
  • Delay new curriculum purchases.
  • Use alternative transportation for high school students.
  • Freeze standardized testing.
  • Continue tuition-based full-day kindergarten programs.

The district has responded to some of these issues on the district website. KEA looks forward to responses to the remaining questions and concerns.  As well, we hope that we will be invited to discuss options with the school board.