Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Death is life's way of telling you you're fired.

Student enrollment is falling but fortunately the new 2008-2013 Capital Facilities Plan is about to be presented to the Board for adoption. Of course, the Board will read the document completely, understand its conclusions and plan accordingly so that future "forced" reductions in staff and programming can be anticipated several years in advance.

Of course, the District knows enough to advertise in the Herald that the 2008-2013 Capital Facilities Plan is scheduled for presentation to the Board. The ad will run one week prior to the first reading (without action) so that participation by the public will be possible. Since the Board doesn't understand the purpose of the CFP, maybe someone from our community will step forward and explain the importance of the document and the value of its conclusions.

The Capital Facilities Plan is a powerful tool and has a proven track record of anticipating demographic trends. To run a business that is solely-dependent upon public funding, management really needs to understand the trends that govern the size of their public assistance check. If student numbers continue to fall, the check will get smaller. By smaller I mean that the money that is transferred to the District gets smaller. The actual check stays the same size.

As a brain-toting member of the public, if I was told that the health of my business was dependent upon my arrival at a certain location at a designated time, I might exert a little effort to ensure that I arrived when expected. Better still, if I had people on staff that were specifically hired to provide a map to the destination, I might just take the time to use the map to improve my chances of arriving at the right place at the right time. If the goal was to be in Bellingham at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, I wouldn't start driving south from Lynnwood at 1:45 PM on Tuesday.

As a school district, we seem to be expecting students and staff to follow directions. The student appears in the classroom at the designated time and expects something in return. The teacher is paid to arrive at the same location, at the same time to provide a service. What would happen if the student decided to sit outside on the curb and the teacher decided to provide services in the library? Would the District be accomplishing their mission? How is the lack of regard for a planning document any different? Enrollment is dropping and yet no adjustments to staff or programming are taking place until the Grim Reaper is at the door. Why wouldn't gradual changes be put in place when you see the bad news coming several years in advance?

Fun Factoid: There will always be Death and Taxes, but Death doesn't get worse every year.


Anonymous said...

Question: Who puts together the Capital Facilities Plan--do they have the background to do a good job? Does this plan come out once a year?

ESD15.org said...

The Capital Facilities Plan (CFP) is not a legally-required document, but a school district with any sense generates one to ascertain the direction of demographic trends. These trends are determined by the use of objective, field certified student generation rates.

If you are asking on behalf of the District, you really should have your consultant selected, under contract and inspecting county records and permit applications by now. In fact, if they are not already on board, the chances are slim that your CFP will yield any meaningful conclusions.

ESD15.org said...

Oh, the CFP is updated every two years and incorporated into the County Plan. Presentations to cities would also be a polite thing to do, since its conclusions will impact local planning efforts.

Anonymous said...

Does the public actually get to see and touch this report or is it difficult to understand like the district's budget?

Anonymous said...

The Growth Management Act RCW 36A requires the school district to submit a CFP to the County every two years. Although you are correct in that the contents of the plan are not legally binding on the school district or the county.

ESD15.org said...

So, you aren't with the District because no one there would have known that.

It is true that current staff could just change the title and do a search and replace for the dates. Presto! You instantly have a document that still will not be read by the Board before adoption.

Once adopted by the Board, every taxpayer could and should request a copy. The District will mail it to you because no one there has any idea how to upload to the server and email you a link.

If only the Technology Levy did anything for staff understanding of technological capabilities.

Anonymous said...

Hey, come on now. We're all getting pretty good at inserting clip art into Powerpoint!

ESD15.org said...

I do the same on this blog. :)