Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nobody reads the CFP!

Since starting with the District in 2001, the Capital Facilities Plan for the District predicted an overall decrease in enrollment. I might be the only person that ever read the CFP because it was part of my job to update it every two years and usher it through the approval process with the Edmonds School Board and Snohomish County Council.

The County Council never read it because the Edmonds School District didn't qualify for student mitigation fees (decreasing enrollment). The School Board never read it because it wasn't illustrated, there were no interesting characters, story lines or speech balloons and it was longer than 5 pages.

While I was working with objective data-crunchers on student generation rates (SGR), I was perplexed by the County's somewhat bewildering outlook and explosive population growth slated for the County as a whole. Through lengthy discussions with the County's long-range planners, we collectively decided to water down their figures because they were based upon a demographic evaluation from 1990 and no longer applicable. Their data had always been included in the CFP but it was a separate line on a graph. It depicted a trend that was completely different from what we were seeing on the ground.

My concern started when a particular budget analyst left the District. Her methodology in forecasting student enrollment was the closest thing to reality that I encountered. I relied heavily on her figures and blended them with the student generation rates to get a good sense for where the District was heading. When she left, the level of detail and sensitivity to population changes left with her. Student generation rates then took top billing and yielded the best forecast model for demographic trends.

If anyone wonders how an unexpected dip in enrollment can have such a profound impact in District funding, just ask for a copy of the most recent Capital Facilities Plan. You will clearly see that no one should have been planning for more students.

Mark Zandberg, Moderator
Former Planning and Property Management Specialist
March 2001 - June 2007


Anonymous said...

And for those that are wondering about the impact of over-projecting enrollment, it is the reason (per an assistant superintendent's emails and public information sessions) that there is a budget cut of $4-5 million reduction required for 2007-2008.

In the past, an overprojection two years in a row cost a former analyst his job. Why not the current analyst, his supervisor, and the assistant superintendent? What is really going on? Wasn't the current analyst hired after a disastorious stint at Edmonds before and then Lake Washington?

One of the budget office's favorite tricks is to project the end-of-the-year fund balance as very low, which tells the unions/employee groups that there are no reserves, we have to make drastic cuts (sound familiar?) so we can't give you a raise. Then, miraculously, and steadily, the fiscal year is over and there is a large amount of money in the fund balance! For a couple years in a row it was over $5 million more!

As Mark says, read the official documents the district publishes, including the budgets. Ask a third party to explain it if you have questions. Ask the school board to explain it. Ask your union and/or employee bargaining group to understand and ask the questions. The administration expects employees to be take their PR as gospel while they are secretly smiling and spending "windfalls" on their own raises and benefits while screwing you out of yours.

Anonymous said...

The analyst referred to in your blog also prepared and presented a study to the Citizen's Planning Committe that a new high school was not required, because the students could be housed in the existing three high schools (Edmonds-Woodway, Meadowdale, and Mountlake Terrace). Lynnwood could be sold.

But what was on the ballot? Money needed to build a new Lynnwood high school! And the voters believed it without any objective data presented! Now the district will end up with excess capacity and the annual expenses to maintain it for at least 20 years. And the taxpayers are paying for it.

When the same analyst asked questions, she was reprimanded by guess who? How can you-know-who sleep at night? There must be some sort of payoff for her to continue duping the taxpayers.

Has anyone investigated her to find out if she or her family has benefitted from some of these deals?

Anonymous said...

Asking SEIU to stand up, is like asking the department of...... Do I have to say it? It's like getting her to show up to work, 5 consecutive days. There is almost no chance. Is there somebody in that deapartment that could show me documentation, that she has put in more than 6 full 40 hour work weeks, this school year? Or is she just like her mom was in the Mukilteo school district. I know a second grader, and kindergartener who put in more time than she did this year. Nice job of leadership by expample. Why ask this of a 5 year old? Because most of us think getting to school or work is critical. Whose salary allows you to ride the bus anyway? Punch in some day, and try to develope some good habits. Not here though, we don't want you. Show me 60 dead cats, and I will pardon your outstanding, non documented sick days. Where is an auditor when we really need one? Never mind, I'll run upstairs and find him myself. I'm still waiting. You know, maybe this is not the fair platform I once thought. THIS IS TOO MUCH WORK FOR YOU!!!!!!!!! Get out of town.

Anonymous said...

Here's some interesting and public information: is the web address for the superintendent's residence. He paid over $500K in 2005 and now it's assessed at $454K? Sounds like he's well qualified to understand fiscal policy!!!

Even better, here's the public link to the assistant superintendent's residence property.

It's valued at $649K. Wonder how she can afford a more expensive house than the superintendent (and have a non-working spouse?) said...

Of course, the County's assessed valuation is not a true and accurate evaluation of true market value. The superintendent could always hire Judson Clendaniel to appraise his home and he could sell it to the District for more than a million.

They could call it the "Superintendent's Mansion" and host grand District affairs there. Oops, did I say affair? I meant event! Events! Not affairs.

Cinderella said...

You're bad! Are you insinuating something?

Cinderella said...

The next school board meeting is August 14th. Is someone going to sign up to speak during the public comments section of the agenda?

Ask for an investigation of questionable property deals!

It should probably be a non-employee unless you don't plan on working at the Edmonds School District much longer.

Someone should also comment on the validity of the estimated ending fund balance prior to budget adoption. The employee groups trying to reach a bargaining agreement will be told a desperate financial story, but don't believe them!