Budget Update - Reduced Educational Program Resolution

Budget Update - Reduced Educational Program Resolution

Northshore School District logo in blue

April 29, 2024

Dear Northshore Staff and Families: 

Since the fall of 2023, district staff, labor partners, and our School Board Directors have been engaged in the 2024-25 Budget Development process. Like many other Washington school districts, Northshore is working to resolve a significant budget deficit for the 2024-25 school year. 

I am committed to transparency as we work to address our $26 million budget shortfall. More than 100 internal and external budget learning sessions have been completed or are scheduled to take place. These have included public meetings, School Board Study sessions, optional staff meetings, and multiple presentations to student leaders. In addition, a Budget Development Survey was conducted to solicit values and perspectives from students and families. 

This has and will continue to be a challenging process, and our Northshore community has demonstrated care and compassion for each other, our students, and those impacted. Thank you. The following communication is to update you on legally required next steps, provide additional context, and resources. 

Reduced Educational Program Resolution No. 888

At the Monday, April 22, 2024, School Board Meeting, the Board approved the 2024-25 Reduced Educational Program Resolution No. 888, You may watch a recording of the related Board discussion (https://www.youtube.com/live/86CG48XaTbM) starting at 1:41:46. 

Approval of the resolution is a legally required step in implementing a reduction in force (layoffs) for next school year. Per state law, all certificated staff must be informed if they have a position or not for the 2024-25 school year by May 15, 2024. Our NSEA contract requires the same communication deadline, May 15, for our classified Educational Support Professionals (ESP) colleagues. 

Additional Context

As we have been sharing the budget shortfall information with our community, there have been questions about using other funding sources to “fill the gap.” As a reminder, our revenue is primarily generated by student enrollment and provided by the state. Additional funding sources include our local levies (i.e., Educational Programs & Operations and Technology), Capital Bond, federal funding, and grants, and these funding sources have restrictions on how monies are collected and or used. These additional funds can’t be used to resolve our general budget shortfall for next school year - our only real option is to reduce our expenditures. Due to the fact that 85.5% of our current budget expenditures is staffing, to balance our budget we must eliminate or reduce some positions and programs. 

We recognize this is very difficult, especially for a district that has historically been able to add positions and support for schools year after year. Unfortunately, chronic underfunding of basic education including multilingual and special education services and increasing operational costs (i.e., insurance, utilities, labor) means we must make difficult decisions and related staffing and program adjustments. 

As previously mentioned, Northshore is not alone in our budget challenges. Over one-fifth of districts across the state are facing budget reductions for next year. Five school districts are in binding conditions, the largest number our state has experienced at once. Binding conditions mean the district must create a plan, with timelines and specific outcomes which the state and local Educational Service District monitor. We have been making hard sacrifices over the last two years to avoid binding conditions, and we are grateful to our labor partners who have worked with district staff to address our budget deficit. 

Next Steps and Resources

This next month will be emotionally hard as we continue to implement the reductions for next year. Valued educators, colleagues, and friends will learn they no longer have jobs in Northshore. Programs that students were looking forward to may no longer be available. We will all feel a range of emotions - anger, sadness, and frustration. I also feel those same emotions and wish things were different.

So, where do we go from here? We will not stop advocating for our students, our educators, and public education, and we know many of you feel the same. Our community’s children need and deserve a great public education, one that is fully funded and supported by the state.

A coordinated advocacy effort this last legislative session did result in a modest funding increase for the District of $1.6 million of new revenue. These new dollars will be used to reduce any remaining budget deficit for school year 2024-25 and help rebuild our District’s financial reserve, a “rainy day” fund required by board policy. It is our understanding that the K-12 community, led by our associations, will be asking for a $1 billion increase in funding during the next legislative session. We plan to be at the forefront of that conversation leading the way in support of our Northshore students and staff.

You can learn how the School Board is advocating for full funding of public education on their webpage and or how parents and students can become involved by visiting the Northshore Council PTSA advocacy blog. Please also visit the 2024-25 Budget Development process webpage, where you can find our budget timeline, resources, and related budget development presentations.

In partnership, 

Michael Tolley
Superintendent 

 

 

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