During the Board of Education meeting on May 18, 2015, Superintendent Dr. John Kellogg delivered a report to Board members entitled, “Strategic Planning and Opportunities for Students: A Two-Year Staffing Plan.” Kellogg noted in his report that the district was still operating under fiscal parameters established several years ago by previous Board members as they enacted budget reductions following a failed ballot appearance.
Kellogg explained that if the Board wanted to continue operating under these parameters, which provide $450,000 annually for additional staff, the greatest areas of need for the next school year include:
- Special education
- Elementary gifted
- Elementary All-Day Kindergarten and Music/Art/Physical Education (which will be offset by tuition revenue)
- Crossing guards
- Increased health aide hours
- Elementary guidance counselors (non-general fund; realignment of Title Funds)
Much of the $450,000 allocation, which funds approximately 10 positions, is used to meet federal requirements such as special education pupil-teacher staffing ratios, as well as newly-enacted unfunded state mandates. Very little funding is set aside in the district’s financial forecast to enhance academic programs and student learning opportunities beyond those required by the state.
“During the Strategic Planning process, our community made it clear that it wants locally-developed, locally-controlled curriculum opportunities for students,” Kellogg said. “They want more than core, and we’re now at a point where we can provide it while maintaining our Five-Year Financial Forecast’s positive trajectory.”
Kellogg asked the Board to consider allocating an additional $450,000 each of the next two fiscal years to meet student needs and provide enhanced learning opportunities.
“Our Leadership Team did an analysis to identify gaps where we can create opportunities for kids that are over and above the state mandates that have been put in place in recent years,” Kellogg said. “We are underserving students because every year we have kids who want to take classes but can’t get them because of a lack of staff.”
Kellogg identified the following as opportunities for enhanced academic programming and support for student
- Secondary fine arts,
- Secondary world languages,
- College Credit Plus,
- Middle school gifted,
- Middle school social/emotional learning,
- International Baccalaureate (program coordinator),
- Elementary media centers,
- Elementary gifted programming, and
- English as a Second Language.
Regarding general school and district operations, Kellogg defined additional needs in custodial and maintenance staff, classified support staff, information technology, English as a Second Language support staff, department facilitators and school nurses.
“Some of these expenditures don’t involve hiring additional people,” Kellogg said. “It’s more a matter of extending the time that current staff members can spend providing these services to students.”
Kellogg told Board member that he wouldn’t bring such a proposal to them if he didn’t think it could be sustained against the Five-Year Forecast. Treasurer Bart Griffith confirmed that allocating $1.8 million over two years for programming and staffing could easily be supported due to stable financial conditions and a healthy financial forecast. He also assured the Board that it would be able to maintain a $19 million reserve fund, which covers 45 days of operating expenses in the event of a fiscal emergency.
“When we do have to return to the ballot next, it will be to ask our community members to renew the emergency levy that they approved in 2012, which means no new millage,” Kellogg explained. “The fact that we’re still able to stretch the five-year emergency levy at least four years beyond what was originally projected, and to be able to provide more for kids at the same time, I think that shows good fiscal stewardship to the community.”
The Board unanimously authorized Kellogg to move forward with the plan, which will be reflected in future budget adoptions. Board members said bringing these expenditures forward during the budget adoption process keeps them in the public eye and maintains transparency. Board members also asked Kellogg to monitor the results of the plan and noted that they will reserve the right to adjust future allocations should there be other needs or an unforeseen change to district finances.