In WAZZUP With Seattle Public Schools and $$$$$$ moi said:
Amy Rolph has posted What Cuts? Seattle Public Schools Budget Is More Than Last Year at Seattle PI.Com:
Seattle Public Schools approved a $577.7 million budget last week, a paired-down list of expenditures that school board members said reflects $45.5 million in cuts.
But now some are disputing whether any cutting happened at all, considering last year’s budget was even less: about $567 million.
Indeed, the district’s budget has continued to increased every year since the recession hit, partly because of federal stimulus dollars. So, where’s the cut?
District spokeswoman Teresa Wippel said Tuesday that school officials aren’t claiming they cut the budget in comparison to last year’s. References to cuts apply to the total costs projected for the coming year if operations remained the same despite rising expenses.
“Yes, our budget is higher, but we also are covering more expenses,” Wippel said.
Collective bargaining costs associated with principle and teacher contracts raised expenses $8.6 million for the coming school year. And pensions will cost about $2.4 million above projected revenue….
“They have gotten used to large increases every year, essentially, and so now they plan on these increases” said Liv Finne, director of the Washington Policy Center’s Center for Education. “When they don’t come through, they essentially scream that there are cuts.”
Finne recently authored a much-circulated blog post about Seattle Public School’s budget, urging that “school officials across the state need to stop describing budget increases as budget cuts.”
She said she’s noticed similar claims from school districts in Spokane, Monroe and Everett. Often, diminished funding is due to the end of temporary stimulus grants.
“It’s disingenuous for them to say, ‘Oh, we didn’t know this was going to happen,'” Finne said.
Wipple said the rising cost of health care for employees and even fuel for school buses means running the district gets more expensive yearly. To balance the budget, the district eliminated 90 office positions and instated unpaid furloughs for office staff not represented by a union.
Seattle Public Schools issued a response to the Washington Policy Center’s criticism Tuesday, saying its stance “disregards a number of facts.”
From the statement:
First, the district’s enrollment is going up — therefore, all things being equal, we would expect to see a budget increase, since the majority of our state funding is based on the per-pupil basic education allocation. In addition, your argument doesn’t take into account the fact that, year over year, we must cover cost increases ranging from employee health care and pensions to fuel for our school buses. The $45 million budget gap that we talk about is the difference between what it cost to run the budget in 2010-2011 and what it would cost in 2011-12 to provide an equivalent level of services.
Finne points out that Seattle Public Schools has millions in reserve funds — and a funding level that outpaces other Washington state school districts…
Janet Peltz’s opinion piece in the Seattle Times, More Revenue is Needed to Stave Off Too Steep School Budget Cuts details the impact of the current fiscal situation.
Maybe the real issue for school districts every where is to ask the question what is necessary to provide a good basic education and can any school district afford more than that? Many of the issues that school districts are addressing are social problems often caused by poverty, incompetent parents, and health issues. If people who are unprepared to be parents can be persuaded to not have kids, that would go along way toward schools being able to focus on education. Economic policies which promote job creation would also help. A health care system which gives access to more people would also help many of the problems now addressed, often inadequately, by schools. Right now, schools are depending upon how one looks at it, the dumping ground for society’s problems or the last rest stop before the child is truly in crisis.
The question for Seattle Public Schools is how to address operating and financial issues before the nuclear option faced by Kansas City must be exercised.
Moi discusses forensic audit in The Drip, Drip, Drip of News: A Forensic Audit of Seattle Schools Is Needed
In the case of a forensic audit of Seattle Public Schools there would be two reasons for the audit. One to investigate current and past instances of financial mismanagement. Second, as a diagnostic tool to examine current systems and practices to recommend practices which both deter and uncover potential financial mismanagement and fraud.
The next issue is, of course, where do the $$$$$$ come from to conduct the audit??? Moi is scratching her head. You mean those same foundations and government agencies who to give millions of dollars in grants to agencies where there is no accountability for how their money is actually spent, don’t want to know? You mean that we have “never ask so you don’t have to tell” in school finance??? Heck, they might as well send some $$$$ moi’s way for a weekend in Vegas. We are in a time of constrained budgets and it is more important than ever that dollars designated for the education of children are, gasp, actually used to educate children.
Here is the Washington Policy Center citation:
Seattle School District’s budget increases by $11 million, yet officials claim $45.5 million in “budget cuts” By Liv Finne July 11, 2011
Now, Linda Shaw is reporting in the Seattle Times article, Seattle Schools Plan One Day Shut-Down to Help Absorb State Budget Cuts
In an effort to show the public that state funding cuts hurt, Seattle Public Schools plans to shut down for one full day before school starts, and close school early on another day during the school year.
Principals have agreed to take Aug. 31 as a furlough day, and the district announced Wednesday that it has reached a tentative agreement with teachers and other school staff to do the same, plus a half-day later in the year.
The hope is to highlight the effect of the school spending reductions that state lawmakers approved last spring, including the decision to reduce teacher salaries by 1.9 percent, and administrator salaries by 3 percent….
The Aug. 31shutdown will be a few days before the school year starts on Sept. 7. It will affect training and other activities scheduled for that day. The district’s enrollment office will be closed, too. Nearly all district staff will be gone, Harman said.
The other half-day will occur sometime in January or February, and the union hopes to hold some kind of joint district-union activity in Olympia.
The union originally proposed scheduling both days during the school year, said Executive Director Glenn Bafia, but the district didn’t want to do that….
The furlough days are part of tentative agreements with teachers, principals and other school employees on how to handle the $4 million hole left by legislators’ decision to reduce their salaries.
Similar discussions are going on in school districts all over the state. In some, teachers are absorbing the losses through furloughs. In others, the district is essentially picking up the tab by using savings or cutting other expenses..
In Seattle, Harman said, “we did not feel that, given the reductions we’ve already made over the last three years, that we could just simply … backfill for this loss in state revenues.”
If approved by the union’s representative assembly, teachers will take 1 1/2 days of furlough in each of the next two school years, plus give up 5.5 hours of training. The district will make up the rest — roughly one-third of the total loss.
For most teachers, the agreement will essentially negate the 1 percent raise they were scheduled to receive next year. The most any teacher would lose would be about $110 a year, according to the union.
Principals have agreed to one day of furlough on Aug. 31, plus give up some training. They are absorbing about 85 percent of the state’s 3 percent cut to their base salary, Harman said.
The district also has reached a tentative agreement covering classified staff, such as school secretaries and classroom assistants who are also represented by the Seattle Education Association. If the agreement is approved by their representatives, they also will take the 1.5 days of furlough. Because they also are scheduled to receive a 1 percent raise, none of them will see a net decrease in pay and some may still get an increase, according to the union.
The district previously announced that all central office employees will take furloughs, too. Upper level management will take four days; others will take two.
Bafia said the union sees the tentative agreement as a good compromise given the economic climate.
The union’s representative assembly is scheduled to vote on the tentative agreements Aug. 9.
Do you really need more reasons for a forensic audit????????
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