Responses to June 18, 2012 Board Meeting Budget Questions
1. What makes up the $37 million budget shortfall?
Answer: When a budget shortfall is calculated, the District accounts for changes to available revenue, increases to costs and adding back one-time savings that are no longer available in the new year. The shortfall for 2012-13 includes:
The table above is flawed because it starts by correcting the previous year’s budget that used inflated revenues (i.e. last years’ budget process was also flawed). Additionally, the table above is flawed because it uses a mixture of calculating a theoretical Current Service Level (CSL) along with other items. The reason $11.2M of the Beginning Fund Balance had to be spent down in 2011-12 is that we had under-budgeted substantially in June 2011. In September 2011, Jeff Rose learned we would be getting much less than expected from the state, but he didn’t adjust the official budget at that time. The factual starting point is that we spent $309.7M this year. We know we will have will have $302.5M next year, so there is a starting deficit of $7.2M — that’s all you need to know for the “change in revenue” section.
The following is a more straightforward and correct way of looking at the District’s potential budget deficit. It is a line-by-line comparison to the table above:
• Start with what we actually spent this year: $309.7M
• We know we take in $302.5M next year, so there is a starting deficit of $7.2M
• Add back 4 furlough days, and subtract the 5 furlough days the District has already negotiated; the deficit is reduced by $1.325M. Total = $5.875 M
• Staffing for increased enrollment is a CSL game. We are not going to get money to do it, so it will never be an “expense.” Total stays at $5.875 M
• Add the cost of the Student Information System $0.5M. New total: $6.375 M
• Add insurance increases $0.2M. $6.575 M
• Unemployment costs $2.2M. (This needs verification because the $2.2 was for 160+ actual layoffs, but the current estimate is 100. Use $1.375M. $7.95 M
• Step Increase and Insurance $4.0M. (This needs verification for positions cut; it should be less.) Use $4.0M. $11.95 M
• Add $0.4M for new computers. $12.35 M
• The 1% holdback is an administrative and hiring mechanism. The salaries are already budgeted at intended levels, and the 1% is not an ADDITIONAL expense. Total stays at $12.35 M
• The health insurance refund was effectively added revenue and the absence of it is not an expense; the premiums increase is already included above. Total stays at $12.35 M
• Non-salary budget reductions $0.9M. New total: $13.25 M
• Payroll liability account savings are effectively added revenue, not an expense, and this should be verified in August. Total deficit stays at $13.25 M
• This spring, the District found $4.5 M in savings (Porterfield). $8.75 M
• If we negotiate for 5 additional furlough days through an MOU with BEA), we could further lower the deficit by $6.625M. $2.125 M
• Oregon revenue officers have NOT ruled there will be $0 in the May, 2013 adjustment for the 2011-12 cycle. The estimated amount is $2.0M. $0.125M
The District’s budget could be easily balanced by adding 5 more furlough days (taken from non-student contact days) and waiting for the May, 2013 adjustment for the 2011-12 cycle.
2. Why don’t we negotiate five more days to balance the budget based on the 2011-12 Budget Committee Chair budget numbers?
Answer: The Budget Committee Chair’s budget numbers do not take into account:
• The District used $11.2 million in reserves to afford the actual costs of 2011- 12, and there are no more reserves available for 2012-13
• The District used $2.9 million of a Facility Grant for operating costs in 2011- 12 and there is no remaining Facility Grant funds for 2012-13
• The State School Fund was allocated at 51% in 2011-12 and has gone down to a 49% allocation in 2012-13
• The District received an adjustment for fiscal year 2010-11 in 2011-12 and there is no guarantee we will receive an adjustment in 2012-13
• Additional staffing for enrollment growth
• Costs for a student information system as the current system eSIS is being discontinued by the vendor
• Employee contract obligations for step and health insurance premium increases
• Increases to property and liability insurance premiums
• Increases to unemployment insurance costs
• Restoring classroom teachers from one time savings in fall 2011 when teachers were transferred in lieu of hiring more teachers
• The District received one time only health insurance refunds that reduced costs for 2011-12
This is just a list showing that Budget Committee Chair’s figures don’t match the table above. We have known these numbers since September, 2011, and it doesn’t actually answer the question. The question is: Why don’t we negotiate five more furlough days? Nothing in list above prevents the negotiation of those days. In fact, the information above makes the case for more furlough days. We are still waiting for an answer to our question: Why don’t we negotiate five more furlough days?
3. Why would you schedule one more day than instructional hours requires? The tightest District schedule I have seen is 168 days for elementary students and 170 for MS and HS. That equates to 7 additional days that could be removed from BSD’s calendar and costs.
Answer: The District negotiates a contract with certified staff to determine the number of student contact days and the number of instructional minutes during the work day. State statute determines the minimum number of instructional minutes required for students.
For 2012-13, there is an agreement between the licensed employee association and the District for 170 student contact days that also meets the minimum instructional minutes requirement.
170 days matches the minimum Oregon state requirement for seat time for high school, but elementary and middle school have lower seat-time requirements as per (OAR 581-022-1620). More days could be cut from the elementary or middle school calendar. Other districts have taken 8 days, 10 days and even 12 days. These other days must come from holidays, staff days etc. (There are 18 such non-student contact days in the current calendar.) In addition, the district can apply for a waiver from the state at any time to reduce the minimum number of days required.
More importantly [sic], instructional time is key to student learning. The District is interested in having as many student days as possible to support the District goal of all students being college and career ready.
If the district is making student contact days such a priority, then why were all five of the negotiated furlough days taken from student-contact days? There are 18 days in the licensed educator contract set aside for staff development, assessment, pre-service, grading, and holidays. Taking up to five more furlough days from these non-student contact days would add back the valuable programs without taking away from student instruction time.
An additional contradiction to the District’s vaunted prioritizing of instruction time is their choice to use Instructional Assistants to cover elementary media and technology time. In years past, these courses have been taught by licensed teachers (teacher-librarians and technology specialists). This time used to count as instruction time. However, under the new system, time spent with the IAs is not instruction time; the IAs may supervise, but not teach. Parents need to learn that the district has chosen to slash media technology instruction almost to extinction, which hobbles lower-income students especially. The district is making this choice to save money to spend on RTI and Collaboration.
Finally, reducing days is not a sustainable reduction. The District built a budget to avoid larger reductions in future years. There are less resources available to the District, and we needed to make a permanent adjustment to the budget.
“Sustainable” is just code for “convenient” for central office budgeting purposes. It simply means that the district wants to make permanent cuts, and it intends the reductions in music, PE, library, ESL, SPED, etc. to remain for years to come.
We notice that “sustainable” wasn’t a consideration as the District justified their decision to fund the RTI positions. RTI is a continuation of a program that was started with short-term Federal stimulus money. Hypocritically, the District finds it more reasonable to make significant cuts to multiple long-standing, proven programs.
There is nothing sustainable about the current situation, and it only makes things worse to try to anticipate future cuts. It is the District’s and School Board’s job to protect the valuable programs the BSD has built up. As an alternative to permanent cuts to programs, the District could use more furlough days to balance the budget. Furlough days can be negotiated with the teachers’ union each year if there is a will to do so. The number of days in the school year is sustainable—it just requires the School Board to set policy that at current funding levels we will only have X days. If funding goes up Y%, then we can increase days.
4. Another question remains regarding adding functions while such drastic cuts are being made. The new budget adds $5M in new staff positions. Does the Board agree with adding these at the expense of driving $5M additional cuts from classroom teachers?
Answer: The new positions in the budget are Intervention Teachers, Technology Instructional Assistants and the Administrator for Elementary Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. The positions were included in the budget approved by the Budget Committee and Adopted by the Board.
The new positions are in the budget to respond to our dramatically reduced staffing, and meant for efficient academic support for students due to dramatic comprehensive changes in staffing.
The Intervention Teachers will work directly with students in support of the classroom teacher. They will work with students struggling to meet standards as well as students who exceed standards to provide differentiated instruction in support of the District’s core strategy of the strategic plan: Individual student growth.
This answer is very misleading, and demonstrates the District’s philosophy of selling the cake to buy the frosting; In other words, the District is cutting desperately needed, effective teachers in essential programs and thereby creating a ‘dramatic’ situation which they can then claim they need to hire *new* people to address. Intervention Teachers (RTI) will be half time at each elementary school, and only half of that time will be spent with students (small groups). The other half of their time will be spent supporting teachers in their Professional Learning Communities and “collaboration.” Both RTI and collaboration are popular approaches to get improved results, but these techniques, including all the related assessment, etc., are exactly what Ben Cannon told the School Board in January are “known UNFUNDED additions.”
We do not believe that there will be any support for high-performing students through RTI; that support normally happens through differentiation in the regular classroom and teachers’ TAG plans for individual students. Therefore, all students will suffer to fund the low end.
Furthermore, most examples of successful intervention in RTI are provided by the classroom teacher (not the RTI specialist) in the regular classroom. Smaller class sizes facilitate the proper RTI procedure without hurting the middle and high-performing students.
In past years, RTI specialists were funded by federal stimulus money that has since dried up. The district is attempting to continue a program that used to be funded by “extra” money that we no longer have. In order to do this, it has chosen to ignore the strongly expressed priorities of parents as elicited by the district’s own survey, and to take funding away from other valuable, proven programs.
In other years, RTI has been facilitated by classified staff and/or principals. Under the current budget, the district will pay 32.5 certified teachers to perform this work. The formula approach to using these teachers is also flawed: 32.5 teachers will be spread evenly through all schools, but meaningful RTI cases will not occur evenly spread across all schools. The proposed approach needs more work with value measurements made before it can be prioritized.
The Technology Instructional Assistants will be in elementary schools. They are included in the budget to provide the contractually required planning time for classroom teachers. These positions are necessary due to the elimination of the Media Specialist positions, and this change has saved the District $2.8 million.
The District presentation said the media assistants were kept in lieu of certified librarians to save ‘plan time’ as needed. The new 19 tech positions are a $1.6M+ NEW EXPENSE that is aimed at managing the data-mining for collaboration discussions.
The technology assistants are not needed to cover plan time. Most elementary schools have a surplus of plan time when they employ a full-time music, PE, and library teacher covering a 30 to 45-min per class per day. The remaining few larger schools could retain a certified technology teacher or art teacher to cover the plan time, and this would be more cost-effective and valuable than the current budget plan.
Moreover, this choice clearly demonstrates a choice of technology over library. The certified librarians are the ones who used to provide technology AND media instruction. Now they are being replaced by two Instructional Assistants: one to cover library class and one to cover technology class. Remember, IAs are not certified teachers. They are not licensed to teach, and they are only allowed to supervise students during class. They are basically babysitters. Over the course of the school year, elementary students will be warehoused under IA supervision for the equivalent of 11+ school days.
The funding for the Administrator for Elementary Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment position came from reducing teacher on special assignment positions in the Teaching and Learning department. This position directly supports the standards based learning system which is a main component of the District’s strategic plan.
5. Why did they approve a budget prepared using 2011-12 BUDGETED figures as a starting point rather than the significantly lower ACTUAL expenditures? The chair of the school board’s budget committee spoke openly about the need to correct this and that comparing to last year was a meaningless reference point.
Answer: Comparing to last year’s budget is not a meaningless reference point. It is a requirement of state budget law. ORS 294.495 gives the Oregon Department of Revenue the responsibility to write and administer the rules of local budget law. The District is required to compare next year’s budget to the current year’s budget. More information can be found on the Department of Revenue website.
Year to year budget comparisons are required, but so are balance budgets. The 2011/12 budget was not a balanced budget and essentially the District needed create a balanced budget. The Budget Committee Chair shortened the conversation to: “Use actual expenditures as your 2011-12 balanced budget.”
Our District is audited every year. Our financial reports have proven accurate and for the last 31 years the District has been awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
6. Why is the district diverting funds from proven, valuable education programs to add new programs for next year? Significant funding is included in the approved budget for ‘Teacher Collaboration’ and a new Information Technology program.
Answer: There is no funding in the approved budget for teacher collaboration. The District is working on a plan for Teacher Collaboration for the new year that will be a change in student and staff schedules and will not cost additional funds. Schools do have the opportunity to spend their non-salary budget on teacher collaboration time if they choose to do so.
The funding for collaboration is hidden in the *NEW* Technology and RTI expenditures. Technology “class” provides extra plan time for elementary teachers to collaborate for 45-minutes once a week, and 1/2 of the RTI teacher’s time will be spent on collaboration. This has been well-documented through a review of elementary school schedules from 2011-12.
The elementary Technology Instructional Assistant positions are necessary for classroom teacher planning time. In prior years, this planning time was provided by Media Specialists. This change has realized a $ 2.8 million in savings in the budget.
As mentioned before, we don’t need Technology IAs to cover plan time. The District is just hoping we don’t look at the schedule and do the math.
7. Dear Board Member, When you voted, did you know your vote FOR the budget was a vote for NEW positions at the expense of mitigating the damage to proven programs?
Answer: The new positions were included in material shared with the Board on April 19. The new positions were discussed in the Budget Q & A’s shared with the Board throughout the budget process.
We specifically asked for a BOARD RESPONSE, not a District response. Therefore, it is extremely ironic that we are receiving yet another DISTRICT RESPONSE. Although this question was addressed to each of the five board members who voted to approve the budget, our group received ONLY ONE (short) response from a board member. The fact that the District is answering for the board shows just how corrupt the system is, and just how much the District is manipulating the board.
When the budget was released, the district didn’t share any details with the board, they just gave a dollar amount for budget reductions. Details regarding allocation of music and PE teachers trickled out, with only a few sample schedules posted and the list of high school classes cut being delivered to parents only AFTER the board had approved the budget.
8. Dear Board Member, When you voted, did you know that the extra furlough days had not been negotiated for with specific intent to avoid damage to proven programs?
Answer: The Budget Reduction Days were negotiated to help balance the overall budget. The reduction in days was not tied to a specific component of the budget.
This does not answer the question, only confirms that we did indeed have our facts straight when we formulated the question. It shows that the BEA was not involved in any allocations whatsoever. We know that the BEA president was invited to budget planning meetings, but left the room each time allocations were discussed. The BEA didn’t know which programs would be cut until after the negotiations were complete. We have to count this as yet another unanswered question.
9. The new teacher’s contract changes one personal business day to four days giving teachers three additional days off from work.
Answer: This statement is misleading. In the current contract, teachers have one personal day and four emergency days for a total of five days. The new contract is a reduction of five days to four days. This is anticipated to be a budget savings.
The District is way off base. The 5 emergency days were hardly ever used in years past because teachers had to apply with a good excuse. The new personal days can be used “without application or explanation.” In addition, teachers will be much more likely to use their personal days first, because unused sick days (teachers still get 10 sick days per year) accumulate and can be cashed out at retirement, whereas unused personal days expire at the end of the year. We request that the District show us how much has actually been spent every year on the emergency days.
10. Concern for community involvement process. Budget reduced by 10% not shared with the community until the 11th hour. Faculty didn’t receive information about many of the specific cuts until June.
Answer: There has been an extensive process for community involvement in the budget process beginning in November 2011 through June 2012. The District solicited public involvement prior to building the budget, and has said throughout the process that we wouldn’t have people weigh in on the reductions. The strategy was to build a budget to invest in a sustainable K-12 standards system.
So “involvement” = indoctrination? There was clearly no active role for the community to play in determining the education of its children. It is the ultimate contradiction for the District to say that it “involves the community,” but doesn’t have people “weigh in.” Basically, they are saying we get to talk, but nobody plans to listen to what we say. This is the core evidence that the District does NOT want public opinion involved. The District doesn’t want to listen to people, and they don’t want the Board to listen to people either.
Community involvement opportunities included:
November/December – Community survey
The November community survey was ignored. The results of this survey showed that electives and specials like music, PE, and library were ranked by the community just behind “Great Teachers” and “Class Size.” Electives and specials outranked “College and Career Ready” (the district’s strategic plan), “Safety,” “Technology,” “Length of School Year,” “Extracurricular activities,” and “Community Engagement.
January/February – Superintendent Budget Listening Sessions
Getting to ask questions does not constitute true involvement.
March – Over 100 Budget Teaching Sessions
April/May – Q & A posted to website weekly
The only questions that received responses were those of the budget committee. The public was not acknowledged in the Q & A.
April-June – emails and letters forwarded to Budget Committee and Board
May – Budget Committee Listening Session & Board Meeting public testimony
There was only one Community Listening Session this year. (Last year there were at least three.)
June – Budget Hearing and Board Meeting public testimony
Citing community involvement “opportunities” is not the same as respecting and considering public concerns. Does the District have *any* evidence to show that *anything specific* (as in direct quote, not allusion) that any community member said affected a budget decision?
11. Music teachers with only elementary experience will move into high school band director positions. Considering only seniority and licensure for teacher placement. Why not survey music teachers on their skills and expertise before placement?
Answer: While it is technically possible to make such a transfer, it is unlikely. The District will make every effort to match teachers with their level of experience, i.e. elementary or secondary. It is more likely that teachers will be moved between elementary and middle school and middle school and high school.
Thank you for reassuring us about this. We have been asking about it since the beginning of April when music teachers began to reach out to human resources with suggestions for how staffing might be approached for our subject. We have been told for so long that it will be “just too complicated” to listen to our suggestions. Still, HOW will you “make every effort to place people with their level of experience?” Will you ask principals to share the information we provided during routine surveys this spring? Will you survey the teachers and use the results during staffing decisions? If so, the music teachers are still waiting to be surveyed… Or are you admitting you have not thought this through enough, yet?
12. Why is the budget being planned against 2011-12 budget when the Budget Committee Chair is recommending it be planned on 2011-12 actual expenditures which were significantly lower and could save staff positions?
Answer: The budget format is determined by state statute. The Department of Revenue writes the rules for local budget law. The District is following the state required format of comparing to the 2011-12 budget.
Changing the format would not change the amount of positions the District would need to reduce. See the answer to question #2. There are numerous items that were not accounted for in the Budget Committee Chair’s budget analysis.
Statutory requirements for the Budget Committee process were met and ended after the Budget Committee approved the budget on May17. AnewBudgetCommittee Chair will be elected at the first Budget Committee meeting in 2013.
Why was this answer included? It is completely redundant.
13. Are IB schools in jeopardy during the diploma authorization process for not having a media specialist?
Answer: No. There are requirements for media services, but there is no requirement for a specific position.
14. Is there a disproportionate amount of music teachers being reduced from the budget?
Answer: No. Many areas of the District have seen reductions. The Strategic Budget Team invested in a budget to provide a balanced K-12 standards based education with the limited resources available to us.
All certified PE and Music Specialists were allocated based upon the number of regular education classes, number of special education specialized classes, and number of full day kindergarten classes within the school. There will be eight PE teachers shared amongst 16 elementary schools. There will be 13 music teachers shared amongst 26 elementary schools. The remaining schools will have a full time music and PE teacher as a minimum. It is very likely that schools having less than a 1.0 allocation will be sharing their specialist with another school. In all schools, small to large, each specialist will be scheduled for a 45 minute period with classes.
Note the difference between the number of PE teachers retained at full time v. the number of music teachers. Only 8 PE teachers will be split in half, whereas 13 music teachers will be split in half. 8 ≠ 13. IT IS DISPROPORTIONATE.
Ten more elementary schools will have only half a music teacher than will have half a PE teacher. That is to say, 14 of 33 elementary schools will have full-time PE, but only 7 will have full-time music. 26 elementary schools will be cut from full time to half time music, while only 16 elementary schools will be cut from full time to half time PE. Why is there a discrepancy in the number of elementary schools getting their music reduced vs. their PE reduced? The District’s math needs to be done among ALL schools. Also, why is the comparison only between music & PE. Do no other subjects warrant cuts?
Additionally, you have not addressed our concern that some students will have music once every 4 days while others will have it once every 5, 6, or 8 days. Who cares if the classes are all 45 minutes if you only get to go twice a month? This is yet another impact of the budget the District has not completely thought through.
It is more than “very likely that schools having less than a 1.0 allocation will be sharing their specialist with another school” … it is a fact that schools having less than 1.0 allocation will share their specialist with another school. The District has already published sample schedules that demonstrate this. We notice that the District tends to understate things.