Message from the Superintendent

 

June 10, 2015

Dear Colleagues:

I hope this letter finds you well, busy I am sure as we approach the end of this school year.  I am excited to attend the many graduation ceremonies this week to see the true culminating project of our school system, in the form of smiling and perhaps anxious graduates who will launch from our schools to the next steps in their lives.  A sincere thanks to all of you who have contributed and added value to each student in his/her educational career with us.

As you know, the Legislature is in double overtime, or its second special session.  There appears to be some agreement between the House and Senate about K-12 expenditures, but that work is not done and they are still apart on how best to fund the operational budget.  Having said that and realizing our planning will have to adjust once the state is finished, I wanted to give you this update about next year’s budget before the end of the school year.  It is possible the State won’t be done after our school year ends, and while our budget isn’t final until the Board approves it in August, I wanted you to have at least some of the key concepts in its DRAFT form.

If you are not interested in this information or simply don’t have the time to read it because you are busy or it is lengthy, it is okay to just delete this email or save it for later.  Still, a number of you have taken time to give input and have expressed interest; so, here is what we have thus far….

  1. Salary and Benefits for all employees will include some type of COLA once the legislature settles on a number.  We will get some state funding for this, but it won’t be fully funded by the State, so we will also have to use millions of dollars that could have gone to other areas just to make all employees whole in this area.  For the first time ever, the district is going to cover the costs of mid-point, benefit increases, and COLA for CTE, Special Services, Special Education, and Food Services which historically have had to address all of their salary and benefit costs within their program budgets.  However, the state is so far out of constitutional compliance regarding k-12 funding for compensation that if we followed past practice, these programs would have had to make severe staffing, program, and service reductions to operate for next year.  That is simply unacceptable to students and we must create this bridge until the state resolves the compensation issue.
  2. One of the significant interests we heard from the public budget input meetings was to do what we could to reduce class size and provide support for struggling learners.  We plan to use all of the state funds received for this purpose in place of levy funds; we will also add over a million local dollars for targeted class size reductions at primary grades and select areas in grades 9-12.
  3. Full Day Kindergarten is coming and we will implement this just as it is funded; this will allow several more schools to offer this for 2015-16 and the rest as it is funded by the state in 2016-17.  Included with this is support for WaKids, delayed start, jump start, additional music/PE specialist time, and making our developmental kindergarten also full time.
  4. As you know, our Strategic Direction Work Groups have been meeting all year and they too have had in-depth conversations about how best to leverage resources to move our work forward.  While we are not able to address in next year’s budget the total cost of all their recommendations, we are able to make significant steps to address the areas of highest priority as identified by each work group.  Here are the areas that will be created or enhanced as a result: Increased ELL support, Secondary Instructional Coaches, Curriculum Adoption funds, Family Engagement Specialists, Culturally Inclusive professional development, 1:1 tech support at the middle schools, Jump Start and Early Learning Social Emotional Work. These work groups will continue next year and continue to give advice as we move forward.
  5. The rest of the draft budget for next year includes a long list of items such as honoring all negotiated agreements, maintenance, supplies, operating costs, transportation, support, etc.  If you would like to see the most current worksheet for the complete list, it will be on our district web site later this afternoon.

In closing, I want to again thank everyone who participated in a public meeting, Strategic Direction Work Group, or gave input and perspective along the way.  The DRAFT 2015-16 budget is not finished and we can’t really settle the details until the State Legislature completes its work.  The Board of Directors is working hard as this year ends and will continue into the summer once the legislature and state funding picture is complete.  You are always welcome to attend the July and August Board meetings where the very latest budget development information is shared and processed.

Sincerely,

Nick


 

 


 
Last Modified on June 10, 2015