Superintendent’s remarks, Board work session: July 2, 2015

In its third special session, the state Legislature presented a final budget, which was approved by Gov. Jay Inslee. The Vancouver Public Schools Board of Directors met for a special Board work session to review the proposed 2015-16 budget.

Dr. Webb presented opening remarks:

“As Yogi Berra once said, ‘It’s déjà vu all over again.’ Two years ago, we received the consensus budget on June 30. What once used to be extraordinary, going into double and triple overtime now appears to be routine business in Olympia. Government shutdown brinkmanship seems to be the preferred legislative strategy.

“The failure of the Legislature to do its work in a timely manner has implications for program planning, operations and staffing. And it comes with an invoice. We now must compensate our principals, program administrators and support staff to operationalize this budget in July, above and beyond the contracted work calendar. We estimate that the expense could reach $50,000. Just like two years ago, it’s a state unfunded mandate, passed along to local districts.”

The final budget recommendations are organized into two categories:

  • Designated investment recommendations: These are resources used for an explicit purpose directed by the state. They include K-3 class-size reduction and a cost-of-living allowance for employees.
  • Discretionary investment recommendations: These are resources that the district can use flexibly. They include:
    – Materials, supplies and operating costs as ordered by the McCleary decision.
    – Expansion of state-funded full-day kindergarten to additional poverty-affected schools, which will be applied to three additional sites: Eisenhower, Salmon Creek and Sacajawea. This additional kindergarten funding offsets local levy dollars currently used to pay for those expenses and allows the district to add 6.2 FTE elementary school counseling positions, increasing elementary counseling time from 13 to 19.2 FTE—approximately a 50 percent increase.

Setting aside the proposed state cost-of-living allowance, this budget reflects approximately $10 million in revenue improvements. Of this amount, 95 percent, or about $9.5 million, of the recommendations are classroom and school-based investments.

These investments focus on Design II strategic initiatives, accelerating student achievement and closing achievement gaps for struggling learners. This is an excellence and equity budget focused explicitly on providing as much direct support as possible to students and schools to improve student achievement.

Discretionary investment recommendations include:

  • Additional elementary counseling support
  • Additional middle school literacy and math intervention support for struggling learners
  • Additional staffing for increased English/language arts and math instruction at Gaiser Middle School
  • Additional high school staffing to support Core 24 credit implementation, intervention support and flexible scheduling
  • Additional staffing for classroom-based interventions in schools that serve large English language learner populations
  • Additional translators to provide increased service to second-language families
  • Mental health, behavior and attendance specialists to provide support to students
  • Additional staffing for Lieser programs to expand satellite services for credit recovery at the comprehensive high schools
  • Additional staff to expand Family-Community Resource Centers to three additional Title 1 sites, and the deployment of a mobile FCRC to support non-Title 1 sites
  • Additional instructional technology facilitators to support the one-to-one weLearn digital transformation as it is expanded to the comprehensive high schools
  • Additional elementary administrative support to support the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Program and instructional quality
  • Several non-staff investments to support and advance Design II strategic initiatives including Advancement Via Individual Determination, the Center for International Studies at Fort Vancouver High School, Vancouver Flex Academy, Kindergarten Jump Start, Wi-Fi access on school buses and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate test fees
  • Thirty FTE positions targeted for K-3 class size reduction

Approximately five FTE positions are being added to district administrative offices and support services. This is 5 percent of the total investment cost ($500,000). These investments include:

  • A manager of instructional technology to provide leadership of the weLearn digital transformation support system including professional development, digital content curation and learning management system
  • An additional executive director of teaching and learning to provide greater focus and leadership for on-time graduation and alternative learning programs
  • An additional pro-tech position on the research, evaluation and performance management team to provide additional support to staff, principals and central office administrators as new dashboard and scorecard solutions are implemented
  • Additional clerk and asset management support for information technology services/accounting for increasing weLearn investments

Said Webb, “I want to thank cabinet, district leaders and our principals for their input in developing these recommendations. We have a great deal of work to do in the next several weeks to finalize and operationalize this budget, including hiring and staffing our schools.”

The 2015-16 budget recommendations will go to the Board of Directors on Aug. 11 for a public hearing and adoption.