Anticipated Budget Cuts for 19/20 (Date Posted 4/24/2019)
An Important Message from Dr. Apostle:
For the 2019-20 school year, the District is anticipating a nearly $5 million deficit. Much of the deficit is due to anticipated cost increases to the school district related to the new School Employee Benefit Board (SEBB) health care plan, the loss of local levy funds, and other costs that are anticipated to exceed available revenues. The District must adjust to these deficiencies, while continuing to move the school district into a 21st century model that supports academies, career-connected learning, increased mental health programs, and the restructuring of our schools in terms of age-appropriate environments and instructional programs.
On April 23, 2019, the school board approved a resolution to implement a Reduced Educational Program. The reduced program is outlined below titled, “Anticipated Budget Cuts Q & A.” The District’s goal is to do everything possible at this point to maintain our current teacher-student ratio and ensure our program efforts continue successfully. In doing so, it is necessary to decrease in a variety of areas, including the reduction of para educators in basic education and special education. This decision is in no way intended to minimize the value of providing assistance to our teachers, but we need to reduce the number of paras considerably due to new budget parameters.
Please read below for more details about anticipated budget cuts.
Shelton School District
Anticipated Budget Cuts for the 2019-20 School Year
Questions and Answers
Update April 23, 2019
For questions or clarification, contact:
Linda Arnold, Executive Director of Human Resources
firstname.lastname@example.org, or 360-426-1687
Q. Why is the District expecting a $5 million deficit for the 2019-20 school year?
A. The District anticipates cost increases related to the new School Employee Benefit Board (SEBB) health care system, the loss of local levy funds, and other expenses that are anticipated to exceed available revenues (such as increased compensation for staff).
Q. How will the District decrease expenditures to stay within the reduced budget parameters?
A. The anticipated reductions/savings below will address the nearly $5 million deficit:
1,500,000 Paras – Basic Education
1,000,000 Paras – Special Education
200,000 Administrative Reconfiguration, resulting in savings
45,000 Pay .5 of the Intervention Program Coord. out of State/Fed. Programs
45,000 Move Early Childhood Ed. teacher to full-time teaching
100,000 Professional Development
400,000 Curriculum Adoption
300,000 Maintenance Reserve
1,005,479 SEBB Savings from reducing paras
35,000 Hope Garden
12,000 Family Resource to Mt. View (rental costs)
30,000 Motor Pool Reserve
50,000 Exec. Dir. of Student Service paid for out of State/Fed. Programs
144,970 Assistant Superintendent (budgeted but unfilled the past four years)
4,867,449 Total Reductions/Savings
Q. How many para educators/para techs will be reduced?
A. Currently, the District spends approximately $7.5 million on para educator support. A total of $2.5 million will need to be reduced. This equates to approximately 64 para educators. Of the 64 positions, 47 positions are temporary status – meaning they were posted and hired as temporary for this year only and will not be re-posted or re-hired for the 2019-20 school year. The remaining 17positions would be reduced through the Reduction In Force (RIF) process as outlined in the Educational Support Personnel (ESP) bargained agreement.
Q. When will the RIFs take place?
A. If necessary, RIF notices will be sent out no later than the last day of school, but the plan is to get them out as soon as possible.
Q. If I hold a para educator/para tech position within the District AND I also hold another position, such as a coach or secretary, will my second position be cut if I am cut as a para educator/tech?
A. No. At this time we do not anticipate cutting positions other than what is noted in the list above. In the example above, a coaching position is hired separately from a para educator. In fact, the coaching position is hired under a different bargained agreement.
Q. Were other positions throughout the district considered for reduction?
A. The District examined all programs and all personnel throughout the district, including administration and other personnel. Various positions are being considered for reduction and some programs have been suspended (see the list at the beginning of this document).
Q. What does the ESP contract say about a Reduction In Force?
A. The language in the Educational Support Personnel (ESP) contract, in part, states the following in terms of the RIF (layoff) procedures:
In the event that the District should determine that layoffs are necessary, the principle of longevity shall be applied in cases of layoff for lack of work and for rehire when work becomes available. In the event two or more employees within the same classification and salary step are vulnerable to a reduction in force, total service to the district (longevity) shall take precedence. The above stated provisions shall not apply to temporary and/or substitute employees. Laid-off employees will be given ten (10) calendar days to answer a written notice of recall and will return to work when notified or face loss of seniority and reemployment status.
The term ‘Longevity’ shall mean the length of time worked in the Shelton School District as a classified employee.
Q. How will I know where I fall on the list for longevity?
A. The District is working on verifying information now; longevity lists will be disseminated for review prior to finalization in approximately two weeks.
Q. What if I am funded out of special funds, such as LAP or Title and not Special Education or Basic Education – could I still be RIF’d even though the cuts impact Basic Education funding and Special Education funding?
A. Yes, employees funded out of programs other than special ed or basic ed could be RIF’d. The RIF procedure is based on employee longevity, not on the funding source of the para educator/para tech.
Q. What is the District’s fund balance and why can’t that be used to avoid staff reductions?
A. The District’s average fund balance is approximately $4 million. The average cost to pay employees each month is approximately $4.5 million and the average monthly operating expenses (utilities, supplies, insurance, fuel, etc.) is approximately $850,000. The average fund balance of $4 million does not cover one month’s payroll and expenses of $5.4 million. The fund balance must remain healthy to ensure sound fiscal management. The school board goal is to achieve a 9% fund balance.
Q. What is the difference between a bond and a levy?
A. The school bond is for school construction and major capital improvements. It is a one-time measure, collected over 20 years.
The replacement levy supports educational programs, operations and facility upkeep. It is run every three years and it replaces the prior levy.
Q. Why is it necessary to cut staff when we just passed a huge bond? Can’t we use that money to pay for staff?
A. No, state laws prohibit the District from using bond money to pay for anything other than school construction and associated costs.
Q. Citizens passed a $7.3 million levy in 2017. Can those funds be used to retain para educators?
A. The McCleary decision took away the district’s ability to collect the full voter-approved 7.3 million dollar levy. Instead, the district can only collect 2.6 million. This reduction significantly contributes to the school district’s budget deficit.
Q. Is it true that school districts around the state gave large pay increases to staff resulting in staff reductions for next year?
A. The state, in its effort to address the McCleary law suit and fully fund education, allocated a certain amount of money for each school district specifically to increase teacher and staff pay. Shelton School District passed through to staff the funds allocated by the state for pay increases accordingly.
Q. Why is the District cutting only para educators/para techs and not other classified positions?
A. The District is currently overstaffed with para educators/para techs. While providing assistance to teachers is valuable, the District is currently spending $7.5 million on para educators/techs. The anticipated reduction of $2.5 million still leaves $5 million in para support. The District examined all programs and all personnel throughout the district, including administration and other personnel. Various positions are being considered for reduction and some programs have been suspended (see the list at the beginning of this document).
Q. Why does the District currently have so many para educators compared to many other districts our size?
A. In preparation for the reconfiguration of our schools, (K-4 elementary schools, 5-6 middle school, 7-8 junior high, and 9-12 high school), it was more economically sound to hire para educators than to hire additional teachers. Because our schools were so crowded, there was no room for additional teachers and classrooms in some cases. Paras were hired to support teachers and help with the large class sizes.
Currently, the total number of teachers in the District is 307; the total number of para educators/para techs is 201. Below is a 5 year history of how we have increased para educator staff:
2014-15 School Year: 147
2015-16 School Year: 163
2016-17 School Year: 165
2017-18 School Year: 187
2018-19 School Year: 201
Q. Did the school district consider reducing the number of teachers?
A. The school district considered all personnel in determining reductions, but strongly believes that teachers are the front-line educators who will help move the district into a 21st century model. It is the goal of the school district to maintain an effective student-teacher ratio and ensure our program efforts continue successfully.