The following letter was presented to the Board of Directors at the May 28 school board meeting by John McDonagh, chair, on behalf of the VPS Management Task Force.

May 28, 2019

Rosemary Fryer, President
Board of Directors, Vancouver Public Schools

Dear Madam President and Board of Directors:

I serve as chairperson of the Management Task Force, a district advisory committee established in the 1980s and sustained by three superintendents. Since its inception, the task force has met three times a year to advise the superintendent and leadership team on district initiatives and issues.

The Management Task Force is composed of approximately 40 representative leaders from businesses, local government, education, nonprofit organizations and neighborhood associations. The group also includes parent and citizen representatives from the community at large. Two school board representatives also attend our meetings.

The new state funding system for K-12 education and the budget challenges it presents to local school districts have been a recent focus of the Management Task Force. At our May 23 regular meeting, we reviewed and discussed the results of the district’s budget survey and the final budget recommendations  from the superintendent and his team.

The Management Task Force supports the final budget recommendations and believes they are consistent with the results of the public survey. But we are concerned that the use of $6.5 million in one-time levy equalization money from the state and $3.75 million in ending fund balance money from the district only pushes much of this problem down the road for a year. We advise the superintendent and his team to identity a sustainable revenue source, including a possible supplemental levy measure, to meet the district’s financial needs in 2020-21 and beyond.

We believe it’s important for the district to continue to advocate for full funding from the Legislature, especially in the areas of special education and regionalization. We also believe the voters should have an opportunity to support their public schools through a supplemental levy as an alternative to further budget reductions.

Finally, I would like to commend the board, the superintendent and the district’s leadership team for communicating openly and frequently with the community about these challenges over the past year.

On behalf of the Management Task Force, thank you for the opportunity to share our perspective.

John P McDonagh
Chair, Management Task Force for VPS
President/CEO, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce
Associate Publisher/Owner, Vancouver Business Journal