February 13, 2023: Connections Newsletter Message

February 13, 2023: Connections Newsletter Message

Dear Northshore Families: 

February is Black History Month! Family. Strength. Joy. Faith. Education. Hope. These are six words that come to mind when I think about my personal journey as an African American student growing up in the deep south to my current position as Interim Superintendent of Northshore. I have been reflecting a lot on these concepts as we recognize Black History Month. 

Black History Month is an opportunity for all families, staff, administrators, and students to celebrate and center the voices, lived experience, and significant contributions of Black individuals and communities - past and present. From book readings and activities, to guest speakers and community events - February will be rich with opportunities. Resources including the recent virtual panel hosted by the Racial and Educational Justice Department can be found below in this newsletter. I encourage all of you to participate in some way. 

I also want to recognize that Black History Month comes on the heels of the tragic murder and funeral of Tyre Nichols. I have been contemplating what our District’s consistent response should be to national incidents of violence against an individual or community. It is one thing to condemn the incident - it is another to provide real support to our community and to those that are suffering. We must acknowledge these brutal injustices without also unintentionally inflicting additional trauma and pain. I plan to work with the Racial and Educational Justice, Student Support Services, and Communications Departments to determine a more predictable and supportive response - one that centers those most traumatized and impacted, also knowing all of us are affected by such horrific violence. While this work is underway, I want to draw your attention to current resources included in this week’s Connections newsletter, including a link to Tyre’s photography. By sharing his photography, I intend to help him and his family reclaim his narrative - one of joy, creativity, and appreciation for landscapes and nature’s unmatched beauty.  

These have been a few busy weeks, a mixture of great conversations and important work. Last Wednesday we hosted the annual State of Our Schools event. The event centered student voice and the concept of belonging. I hope that you take the time to watch the recorded event and learn from our wise students. 

Finally, two weeks ago I began internal 2023-24 budget forecast presentations. These will continue over the next few weeks. It is important that next year’s budgeting process is transparent and our community has the opportunity to ask questions of leadership. We are in the process of scheduling Northshore community meetings for March and April. 

While Northshore may be in a better financial situation than neighboring districts, we do anticipate a budget shortfall of $10-12 million for the 2023-24 school year. So what is contributing to the estimated budget shortfall? 

  • A loss of 666 students over the past four years, with the most significant drop between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. Student enrollment is the largest driver of our budget. Every 75 students (FTE) = $1 million dollars;

  • An anticipated additional loss of more than 200 students next school year (2023-24); 

  • Inflation and increased costs for goods; 

  • Necessary investments in our pandemic recovery; 

  • Planning for upcoming contracts; and

  • The need to set aside funding for unknown issues or challenges. 

I want to remind everyone that our shortfall is an estimate and depends on the outcome of the state’s Legislative Session. As I shared earlier in January, this will be a critical session for public education across our state. Seventy-three percent of Northshore’s budget is paid for by the state based on student enrollment. Local taxes used for public education, referred to as levies, help make up the gap between what the state provides and what our students need. 

Last school year, Northshore invested over $23.6 million of local levy dollars on special education services and support for our students with disabilities. These aren’t “extras” but foundational supports students need to thrive and reach their full potential. Full funding of Special Education is a Legislative Priority of our School Board and staff. If the state fully funded special education, our budget forecast would look very different. I look forward to participating with the Northshore Council PTSA during Focus Day on February 20 in Olympia. Together, along with families and educators from across the state, we will share what full funding could mean for our students, staff, and community. 

In partnership, 

Michael Tolley

Interim Superintendent 



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