August 27, 2009
The Issaquah School Board this week approved a $149.6 million operating budget for the 2009-2010 school year. While Superintendent Rasmussen acknowledges that the system will be much leaner—with 35 fewer teachers—he looks forward to another year of powerful teaching and learning, thanks in part to the local community's efforts. He is also thankful that all but one teacher who received a RIF notification was recalled to a position this summer following final enrollment counts.
June 25, 2009
The District has posted "A Guide to Understanding the 2009-2010 Budget (DRAFT)
" on its financial webpage. The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on July 22 before adopting it on August 12.
May 20, 2009
With the Governor's signature finalizing the state budget this week, Superintendent Steve Rasmussen is now able to offer more specificity about the District's financial outlook. While significant, the reductions in state revenue-and the resulting reconciled Issaquah School District budget-will be considerably better than outlined in April's worst-case financial plan. More than a third of the District's deficit will be covered with the $2.2 million in offsetting, non-classroom related reductions; we will bridge the rest of the deficit through a one-student increase in class-size ratios. The class-size ratio increase will result in about 40 to 45 fewer certificated positions District-wide; because this approximates the number of teachers we generally lose each year due to attrition, retirement, and non-continuing contracts, we expect to recall most certificated employees who received a RIF notification earlier this month.
April 22, 2009
On Wednesday, April 22, Superintendent Steve Rasmussen and administrators presented a financial plan to the School Board that outlines $10.5 million in reductions in the operating budget that may be necessary if state legislators land on a worst-case funding model for K-12 public education. These reductions include $2.2 million in off-setting cuts to operations—in areas such as secretarial and maintenance hours—that will be implemented next school year. The District also established a Reduction in Force (RIF) line in the certificated seniority list; the District will recall employees on the RIF list depending on the final state budget's funding reductions to the District.
The Issaquah School District is in the midst of its 2009-2010 budget planning process. The good news is that—unlike many districts statewide that have had to cut millions of dollars from their budgets in recent years—we are financially solvent and healthy. This is the result of:
- Consistently accurate student projections
- Steady financial belt tightening wherever possible (such as eliminating the District print shop and decreasing the number of bus routes)
- Operational efficiencies (Issaquah has the lowest percentage of administrative costs of all King County school districts)
- The generosity of our community (the Issaquah Schools Foundation and PTSAs contributed more than $1.6 million to schools last year)
- Conservative expenditures, contracts, and reserve management
If the District next year were to be funded by the state at current levels, we would expect to make minor adjustments to operations and service levels to balance the 2009-2010 budget.
However, Washington is now facing a significant budget deficit of at least $6 billion. As legislators work in the next several months to reduce spending across departments and programs, public education will surely be impacted. Because we cannot predict the amount of that reduction or what form it will take, the Business Office will not be able to create a solid District budget plan until the Legislature nears completion of the final state budget in late spring or even summer.
We expect the reductions from the state to be "categorical," meaning direct funding sources for specific purposes will be eliminated or significantly reduced. In order to protect students' quality educational experience as much as possible, the District has been and will continue to look for operational savings and efficiencies; however, because our program and service levels are already so lean, it is likely that we will need to absorb significant revenue reductions by trimming those areas that lose direct categorical funding from the state. The most likely example of this is I-728 dollars, which the state provides to school districts to directly fund more certificated staff positions to lower class size and to offer professional development. The Governor and legislators have already indicated this is a target for reduction or elimination.
For the next several months, we will closely monitor the legislative session, and the District will continue to provide information to both lawmakers as they create the state budget and to our local community advocates who are asking legislators to make public education a priority.
In the meantime, we invite community and staff members to send us ideas and suggestions for stretching our operational dollars. Creative thinking is always welcome—whether in a budget-cutting situation or otherwise, we strive to operate smartly and preserve as much funding as possible for the classroom. Please e-mail us your ideas. We might not be able to respond to each suggestion individually, but all will be captured and considered by administrators.
Critical dates affecting budget planning
- December 18: Governor releases preliminary state budget ($2.34 million revenue reduction for ISD)
- January 12: State Legislature convenes.
- January 14: Basic Education Finance Joint Task Force releases final report.
- February through March: Superintendent Steve Rasmussen meets with staff members at all buildings for a "state of the state" budget discussion.
- February 17: The President signs a $790 billion federal stimulus package into law.
- Update February 19: The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council presents a preliminary revenue forecast. The state budget gap is now projected at $8 billion.
- Update March 19: State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council adopts a new economic forecast. The state budget gap is now projected at $9 billion this biennium.
- March 25: Issaquah School Board adopts Budget Guidelines
- March 30: Senate Ways and Means Committee releases a proposed budget that significantly cuts funding for public education.
- March 31: House Ways and Means Committee releases a proposed budget that cuts funding for public education.
- March 31: District estimates the financial impacts of the Senate and House proposed budgets. Overall, both come close to cutting $6.5 million in funding from the Issaquah School District, although the Senate cuts more deeply from the basic funding model and back fills with one-time federal stimulus money.
- Update April 22: Per ISD contract, the School Board will notify the Issaquah Education Association of the level of seniority required to guarantee a certificated staff member's position for the following school year.
- April 22: I-728 Funds Public Hearing
- April 26: Last day for regular Legislative session (special session to complete budget is possible).
- Community meeting April 28: "State of Finance: Economy Hammers Local Public Education" community meeting—6:30 p.m. at the Administration Building. Everyone is invited to attend to learn about how the state budget will likely shape the district's budget; why Issaquah is hit especially hard because of the state's inequitable education funding system; and what reductions, including issuing "Reduction in Force" notices to employees, will occur.
- May 15: By state law, school districts must issue Reduction in Force (RIF) notices to certificated staff members who may not have a contract the following year.
- May 20: District releases analysis of final state budget impact on District revenue.
- May–July: Five-member Financial Advisory Core Team (FACT) members identified; team begins to meet to review budget development. (Board, principal, IEA, classified, and PTSA reps to be named.)
- August 12: Public hearing—Proposed 2009-10 budget.
- August 26: Budget adoption.