Budget Deficit Revealed (Kinda)
I spoke at the School Board meeting on Wednesday. One of my topics was the fact that in order to understand the raging budget deficit facing SPS, I was told to file a public disclosure request. I pointed out to the Superintendent and Board that this was not transparency at its best and if they want support from the community, it might be useful to be open about the situation.
This information is not some state secret and, in fact, the finance/budgeting folks probably all know the numbers by heart.
To my surprise, I was sent this information by JoLynn Berge,Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance. Great but, once again, not specific enough (but, of course, that's by design.)
I'll first note the obvious for every single one of us adults - when creating a budget, you start with what money you DO have and what you owe/needed spending and THEN you see what is leftover for other things. The district seemingly operates with what they WANT to do and then moves on to paying for needs.
This is obvious when you consider the underspending on maintenance of the facilities, both new and old. This is obvious when the Board votes a COLA for the Superintendent (after giving him a raise the previous year) and yet schools like Northgate don't have money for copy paper. It's obvious when some Sped students don't get to come to school on a late start weather day because of transportation (I had no idea but this is happening.)
Most of all, when the Superintendent and staff, in the face of all operational problems, puts Strategic Plan initiatives ahead of a well-operating district. This district will NOT ever move ahead for its students (especially those who are low-income and/or of color) if this district is not well-run.
I do not believe it is well-run and I have thought this for a very long time.
The Times has an editorial on this subject, Seattle School District should take responsibility for budget problems. They say Nyland has "erroneously" put the full blame on the Legislature. That was not my read of the letter but yes, the letter certainly laid no blame at the feet of the district. But the Times goes right after the union, blaming the district for settling the teachers strike by giving them raises. Amazingly they also call out the high salaries of administrators.
About 37% of the Seattle School District's projected budget deficit Seattle Schools Community Forum: Budget Deficit Revealed (Kinda):