May 1, 2023
Dear Northshore Colleagues:
I am committed to transparency with our staff, families, and students as we work to address the budget shortfall and balance our budget for the 2023-24 school year. At the April 24 School Board meeting, a Reduction in Force (RIF) resolution was presented and approved. The Reduction in Force is one step in next year’s budget development process. Budget work will continue through the spring and the School Board will take action on our final 2023-24 budget in July 2023.
As a component of the RIF, I am reducing the number of positions at the Administrative Center, including Cabinet positions. To sustain the necessary Administration work and strong oversight of operational and school support functions, I will need to reorganize, reassign, and combine some jobs. This is the first detailed communication about the phased reorganization. More information will be shared over the following months.
Admin Center Reorganization Phase One
In an effort to bring better alignment to District operational functions, and address next year’s budget shortfall, I have integrated the duties of the Deputy Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer.
I am pleased to announce that Ms. JoLynn Berge has been selected as the district's next Deputy Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer. Duggan Harman, our current Deputy Superintendent and Tracy Patterson, our Chief Financial Officer, are retiring at the end of June 2023. Look for more information in the next couple weeks about how we plan to honor and thank these two outstanding public servants for their commitment to our students, staff, and families.
JoLynn was offered the position after an extensive search that solicited interest from highly-qualified candidates from across Washington state and beyond. Over the course of her career, JoLynn has been directly responsible for oversight and support of facilities, operations, human resources, business services, and technology departments - providing leadership for operational programs and services, monitoring the effectiveness of district systems and structures, and assisting in establishing and implementing well-defined programs and services in all related areas.
She is currently the Deputy Superintendent for Capital Region Educational Service District 113 where she is responsible for monitoring over 120 programs. Her previous experience includes Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance for Seattle Public Schools, Chief Financial Officer at OSPI, and 10 years in the State Auditor’s Office.
I had the privilege of working alongside JoLynn at Seattle Public Schools. Her collaborative leadership style and demonstrated experience allocating resources that resulted in equitable outcomes for students will help us fulfill strategic commitments. I am really excited to welcome her to the Northshore family. To learn more about JoLynn and her background please visit the news article on the district webpage.
Admin Center Reorganization Next Steps
The Board’s approved Reduction in Force (RIF) resolution also included the Executive Director of Human Resources and a HR Assistant Director Position. As many of you know Doug Hale is also retiring and Jon Young has taken a great opportunity in a neighboring district. I am deeply grateful to Doug and Jon for their unwavering commitment to public school employees, expertise and guidance, and helping to ensure Northshore is a great place to work. Look for more information about how we plan to celebrate Doug and Jon and their years of service.
Once again, these changes in personnel provide an opportunity to rethink supervision and support of Human Resources. I have reassigned Obadiah Dunham’s responsibilities to include Human Resources. This means that we will need to increase support to the Special Education Department as well as move supervision of the schools in the West Region. Heather Miller, a current Assistant Superintendent with a deep knowledge of Northshore schools, will take over supervision of the West Region as well as SAS. Obadiah and Heather will begin in these revised roles on July 1. Special Education Department adjustments will take place through the summer months.
Additionally, I have talked about the development of a Family Engagement and Resource Center. Reassignment of current positions to the Center will also be part of the Admin Center reorganization. I am still in conversation with affected personnel. Once the reassigned staffing is confirmed, I will share the structure, vision, and initial work of the Center with our staff and community. The Family Engagement and Resource Center will report to the Communications Department.
Legislative Updates and Continued Budget Development
The state's legislative session concluded on Sunday, April 23. Thank you to the many educators, families, and staff who shared your thoughts and perspectives with our state representatives. Based on our initial analysis, Northshore will receive some additional revenue due to increases in state funding for special education, changes in pension rates, and the adopted inflationary factor (IPD) for compensation. These funds will certainly help, but there are many challenging decisions that lie ahead to produce a balanced budget for next school year and for years to come.
As a reminder, the Communications Department has launched a 2023-24 Budget Development webpage that includes a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section. The budget webpage has been updated with additional common questions and responses. Please continue to submit your questions through the form on the webpage, and the FAQ will be updated. And, as promised I will continue to provide budget development updates in my Monday Message and in the Connections Newsletter.
Student Wellness and Safety Task Force
Last Monday, April 24, the School Board hosted a study session about the work of the Student Wellness and Safety Task Force. The Task Force is charged with providing the superintendent recommendations on a continuum of supports, services, and practices - including a multi-year timeline and budget - to meet the Guiding Principles of Parameter 7: Student Learning Environments. This was an initial update and opportunity for the School Board to ask questions and provide feedback and guidance to the Task Force facilitators. Another study session is planned for May 30, and the Task Force is scheduled to conclude at the end of June. You can view the April 24 study session on the Board’s webpage.
Tomorrow on Tuesday, May 2, 2023 the School Board is hosting a Student Wellness and Support: Conversations with the Board event in Inglemoor High School’s Library from 6-7:30 p.m. This is an opportunity for the Northshore community to provide additional feedback on topics of student wellness, belonging, connection, and campus safety. Additionally, an online feedback opportunity will be distributed to all secondary students, families, and staff later this week.
Listen and Learn Report and Spring Engagements
Finally, I want to thank everyone who participated in my Listen and Learn tour that concluded in January 2023. The report and key findings can be found on the District’s Listen and Learn webpage. I will be hosting spring Superintendent Engagement Sessions to share findings from the Listen and Learn tour and next steps directly with families, students, and staff. Look for more information about the spring sessions below. I hope to see you there!
Today is also National Principal Appreciation Day! Thank you to our incredible school leaders and for all that you do for our students, families, and staff. This is a busy time of year, and I see and value everything you are doing.