Archive for the ‘Math 101: KSD Budget Facts’ Category

Budget Survey?

March 26, 2011

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  

Could KSD find more money to prevent current or future budget cuts?

June 21, 2010

YES!

While the thought of increasing local levies is not something anyone, especially recession-hit tax payers, wants to deal with, it is possible that KSD could put the issue before the voters in order to save teachers and programs in Kent.  Without a doubt, the voters of Kent have seen in the past the value of education by supporting levy renewals– even in the current recessionary climate.    At  the June Community Budget Forum, it was shown that the local levy dollars, combined with Levy Equalization measures, allowed KSD to make up for cuts in education funding at the state level. 

Despite this fact, the District has chosen to RIF teachers and programs yet again.  This is unnecessary and harmful!  Going back to the voters to increase the levy is possible, but is not necessary to recall those laid off. The cost of restoring all the certificated staff who received layoff notices is about $1.2 million,  and the General Fund Balance will be almost $22 million by the end of this year’s budget. They can afford the recall of RIF’d teachers and staff without an election.   In light of the fact that the last levy passed with 53% of the vote makes the levy a long shot, but one that the District can consider if it needs to.  

Some facts about possible revenue streams that KSD has chosen not to take advantage of to protect the kids of Kent:

  • Total K-12 enrollment excluding Running Start in Kent has changed very little in the last four years.
  • Thanks in large part to the passage of SHB 2893, the District could collect an additional $5.7 million (11.3%) more in local levy revenue next year compared to this year’s collections if Kent voters approved an increase in local levies.
  • The District has chosen to do without $3.3 million in revenue over the last five years by not maximizing the amount of levy dollars they can collect under the law.
  • If KSD does no approach the voters this Fall about increased levy dollars, the District will be choosing to do without $3.5 million in 2011.

KSD continues to say that they have no choice but to cut programs and staff in Kent.  Clearly, based upon the information above, KSD could, in fact, avoid these cuts through an increase of the levy in Kent.  This is not the only solution possible, nor is it the most desirable, but it is an alternative to cutting, and cutting, and cutting some more from the budget in Kent.   Shouldn’t the voters of Kent have the opportunity to choose between an increase in levies and a decrease in education services in Kent? 

You can view the entire Community Budget Forum presentation from June 2nd here.  We welcome your comments and questions!

So What Does The Budget Overview Tell Us?

June 7, 2010

Below are selected points from the Community Budget Forum last week:

  • The District significantly underestimates fund balances because they overestimate spending considerably.
  • The result of the District’s budgeting practices is that the District has ended the last four years with as much as six (and no less than three) times the budgeted ending fund balance– and yet still KSD says there is a budget crisis.
  • Revenue from local levies and levy equalization combined has grown and continues to grow consistently.
  • Kent’s 2008-9 ending fund balance, equivalent to 9.3% of spending, was third highest among 9 districts of similar size.
  • Based on this year’s fund balances to date, the current trend indicates that the District will end the year with more than $21.7 million in the ending fund balance.  (aka “Rainy Day” Fund)  That amounts to 8.3% of budgeted spending, 8.8% of KEA’s forecast of their spending level, and over five times the budgeted fund balance.  That’s far more than sufficient for a District of Kent’s size.
  • KSD’s own forecast (as of April) is that the ending fund balance will be four times the budgeted level this year!

Where are KSD’s priorities when it comes to budgeting and spending?   By spending less than they budget, while projecting with near pinpoint accuracy how much they will take in, they continue to maintain (and even grow) their fund balance to levels well above what even conservative and prudent budgets would call for.  Meanwhile, they have laid off 24 teachers this year, and have not yet recalled all those laid off last year!    Clearly, their priority is not providing the best education for kids.  Teachers and programs are cut, class sizes increase, and the quality of education in Kent suffers.

You can view the entire Community Budget Forum presentation from June 2nd here.  We welcome your comments and questions!

Math 101: KEA Challenges KSD’s Budget Claims

May 6, 2009

math-101-lesson-1

This year’s motto in the Kent School District is “Math Matters.”   If that’s the case, then KEA has a math problem for all of you.

The Kent School District has been claiming for months that they are suffering a terrible financial crisis.  These claims have been used to justify 125 teacher layoffs, and the proposal of draconian cuts that will not only negatively affect KSD employees, but our students as well.  As a result, the KEA did some investigating, using the KSD’s own budget numbers (which can be found on the KSD and OSPI websites if you do a lot of digging).  We encourage all our blog readers to complete the attached math problem, and share the results with others.  

In the coming days, we will post more lessons like this one, so check back often!