Thursday, March 20, 2008

A fool with money to burn soon meets his match.

This is an update for all of our staff regarding the budget situation and planning process for 2008-09. With the adjournment of the Legislature last Thursday, we now know the details of the State budget that has been forwarded to the Governor for her signature.

The State’s recommended budget has several significant financial impacts for 2008-09 for school districts across the state:
1. approves a 4.4% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
2. approves an average 2.64% increase in retirement contribution rates paid by the employer
3. eliminates funding for the Promoting Academic Success (PAS) program (extended support for struggling students)
4. makes numerous smaller adjustments in funding for specific categories of expenditures

What does it mean for Edmonds School District?

The largest share of our district general fund budget (over 86%) pays salaries, taxes, and benefits for staff. When salaries and related costs are increased, the impact to our general fund is significant.

When the biennial budget was adopted by the Legislature one year ago, the 2008-09 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for school district employees was budgeted at 2.8%. With the budget approved last week, that COLA has been increased to 4.4% and mandatory employer retirement contribution rates increased by an average of 2.64% (our staff are members of 6 different retirement plans, and the rate increases vary by plan).

In our district and in most districts across the state, all employees receive the same COLA, regardless of whether their salary is funded by the state or not. Participation in the state retirement system is mandatory based on certain criteria, so employer contributions to the retirement system are also mandatory. You may remember from previous years that with each % increase in COLA and retirement rates approved by the Legislature, Edmonds School District bears the cost of providing those same increases for the employees that are not funded with state or federal monies. For the coming year, we calculate that every % increase in COLA and pension rates equates to an increased cost for us of $325,000. With the combined effect of 4.4% COLA and 2.64% retirement contributions, our 2008-09 budget needs to cover $2.28 million in local costs for increased salaries and taxes.

In addition, the elimination of state funding for the PAS program reduces our state revenue by $340,000.

What other factors are impacting our 2008-09 budget?

Our negotiated agreement with each employee group includes a commitment to make “mid-point” adjustments to salaries to bring compensation to the average level of a specified group of neighboring districts. Last week we completed the calculations of mid-point adjustments for 2007-08, and the total cost for all groups is $1.5 million. This amount is paid in 2007-08 and then becomes part of the base salary for 2008-09, so we need to add it to our list of expenditure impacts for the 2008-09 budget.

We are also projecting a continuation of the recent decline in enrollment, with 256 fewer students next year. Each student generates approximately $5,000 in state revenue.

The combined effect of the state COLA and pension rates, mid-point compensation, enrollment decline and other impacts is that we will need to reduce our expenditures for next year by roughly $4.2 million to cover increased costs, primarily in the area of compensation.

How are potential reductions being identified to balance the budget?

Superintendent’s Staff recommended and the School Board agreed in January we would NOT change the staffing ratios for basic education classroom teaching positions for next year.

All other areas of the General Fund are being carefully examined to determine the best way to reduce costs with the least impact to our students, while meeting our bargained commitments and other legal mandates.

What is the timeline and process for determining budget reductions?

Superintendent’s Staff has been reviewing the General Fund budget for the past several weeks and researching potential areas for reductions. The list developed by supt.’s staff will be forwarded to the Budget Advisory Council (BAC) for input and feedback, and then presented to the P-12 administrative team in April. BAC will refine the list of proposed reductions based on the feedback from P-12, and a recommendation will be made to the superintendent. The superintendent must ultimately recommend a balanced budget to the School Board in late June or early July, with final adoption of the budget required by state law by August 31st.

Individuals whose positions may be affected by reductions will be notified by their supervisors, just as soon as possible. To the extent we can and still allow time for communicating first with those affected, we will share information as it becomes available.

In closing

In recent years we’ve experienced the compounding effects of declining enrollment, increasing personnel costs, and weaning our district from the intentional use of reserves to balance the budget. At times it is discouraging to work so hard, and still feel the uncertainty each year of having the financial resources necessary to support the incredibly important work of public education.

In spite of the difficulty all districts face with inadequate funding, it’s important to remember there has been demonstrable support from the people of Washington for public education in the past few years. Voters have approved increasing compensation through regular Cost of Living Adjustments, funding for I-728 and early learning programs, and allowing schools to pass local levies with a simple majority. Our local voters have supported our program/instructional levy, construction bonds, and capital/technology levy, and we’ll be asking them to renew the capital/tech levy again this May. These are important acknowledgements that most people in our state and local region support schools and appreciate the individual and collective efforts of public school employees. We just need the Legislature to adopt a more stable funding mechanism for essential state services. (Just a note: our District is still part of the group suing the State to adequately fund Basic Education . . . the case is now scheduled to begin hearings in March, 2009).

I’m sorry it’s another tough year for budget planning. It’s always challenging to make the adjustments necessary by June to implement decisions completed by the Legislature in March!

Thanks for all you do, and please feel free to share any ideas you think should be explored for balancing next year’s budget. (Read the Blog)

Marla Miller
Assistant Superintendent, Business and Operations
Ext. 7036

Editorial: The 2004-2009 Capital Facilities Plan predicted this reduction in student enrollment, but alas, the Board didn't read the CFP before (or after) adopting it.


Anonymous said...

If you are seeking to match the salaries of other districts, you should also seek to match their number of employees in each tier.

What other district has so many assistant superintendents or managers? Sure, the salaries may be the same but if you have ten times as many you are bound to create a budget problem.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, the process of drafting the next CFP is in good hands. (sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

I would like to see some middle management get cut. Sorry for them but they have been livin large for sometime now.

Anonymous said...

We are once again top heavy in our district. I remember Brian Benzel cut Assist. Supt. when the budget was in trouble so lets do it again. Marla first and her midmanager, Manny. Also let's cut Clint Goodison he's just here to push pencils until he retires. As the worker bees and we will tell you where we see where the cuts should be made. Long ago in another time with the district their used to be a representative from each bargaining group on the budget committee you will notice now that it is all the top management employees and their jobs don't get touched. Lets make a strong recommendation that we go back to the "old" times and allow a repre. from each bargaining group help make the decisions in the district. Ya that sounds good! Bye to the Supt. and Marla/Manny you gotta go!

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what jobs they will cut. There is a great deal of dead weight in middle management and I hope the Edmonds School District #15 will realize that, a 2% raise is much greater on a $100,000.00 salary than on a $30,000.00 salary.

Clint Goodison does nothing all day long. I wish Marla would check that out. He has been given an assistant by Manny, because he needs help with his paperwork, what little there is. This guy can not do anything. Just ask some of the folks who have been doing his work while he comes in around 8:30a.m. and gets his breakfast, take a walk, takes lunch and then take another walk and then goes home around 4:00p.m.or 4:30p.m. Don't ask him about any thing you need help with, because he simply can not help you. He did a PDQ and got a big raise. Must be nice.

Sarah Conroy ask what she does. Plays favorites with her buddies and loves to throw her authority around. This person is worthless. Check it out.

Devon Miles, is her position really necessary? She does nothing all day. She does have a lot of favorite phrase to use when she has not done anything or messed things up. She is well protected by Ed Peters and she is well aware of that fact.

Elmo checked out along time ago.

Why does every manager in Student Services need an assistant? Parents should be highly upset. There is confidential information floating around in a brown envelope marked confidential: Attention Lauri Velasquez. Folks, let me tell you this information is not secured in any way. The folder is not a secured folder and it ends up in a lot of mail boxes trying to get to the right person. Parents, your child's information is not safe. However the managers in Student Services parade around like proud peacocks. Never mind if work is done properly they have to sport their titles.

What's sad is that a lot of the dead weight in the Edmonds School District #15 will set on the committe and decide the fate of others. If you are a good worker and not liked by Marla, you are in trouble. What is really sad about Marla is that she is very vindictive, and she will use her position to destroy you if you have done anything to her favorite pets in the Edmonds School District #15, or if she thinks you have crossed her. Her favorite pets will go to her with their complaints about you, and she makes them a promise that she will get you, because she has the title to do so.

Manny's position should never have been created. He is very incompetent. I must say that Marla has really gone to bat for this guy. When you know he is in over his head, she lifts him higher and defends everything he does. Must be nice being able to screw up and get a big fat raise. Just goes to show you, it is not what you know, but who you know.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the Penneys have struck a deal with the district that says that husband and wife will not work the same days together. This is a good faith effort to help eraticate the conflict of interest bug. So Chuck works 2 1/2 days a week, and Tracy works the other 2 1/2 days. Wait a minute..... You can't fool me! This has been their schedule since September of 2004. And there is still a conflict of interest. So that hasn't been working. But neither are they. Book em Dano!

Anonymous said...

Are the Penney's working two and half days per week per person and getting paid for a 5 day week? I'm confused about this statement. If they have struck a deal with the District, at least the District is aware there is a problem. Question: Does the District think this is a PROBLEM/ISSUE?? They usually just "sweep it under the rug", so to speak.

Anonymous said...

There is no deal with the district and the Penneys. The number of days per week that each works would be fairly accurate. They can only work in this environment in which they are protected. Any consultant with fecal matter for brain would say they have to go. They do nothing to enrich the district, and do not have the potential to do so.

Anonymous said...

Do the Penney's get paid for 2.5 days per week? Has Tracy's position been reduced to .5 FTE? If so, who works the other .5??