School district works to balance budget in trying times | Superintendent Nancy Coogan

Nancy Coogan

Our legislators have been given the task to fully fund education as a result of the McCleary decision. As you recall, McCleary was a Supreme Court decision that said the state has failed to fully fund basic education as required by our Constitution. Most recently, our legislators passed a budget after three extended sessions, and districts are patiently waiting to see the impact of this budget on their particular district.

During the past five months, the Tukwila School District’s Budget Advisory Committee has worked diligently to review and make recommendations for the 2017-18 budget. The committee did a yeoman’s job completing the objectives set forth in the budget manual which can be found on our website, tukwilaschools.org. On behalf of the superintendent’s cabinet and Board of Directors, we appreciate its service. The committee was given the task to right-size the district’s budget accordingly with a decline in student enrollment – a tall order, but a necessary one. Below are the results of its work and endorsement of the recommendations by district administration:

Budget committee recommendation: Reduce the central office administration to 8.5 percent.

Cabinet response: This recommendation has been fulfilled.

Budget committee recommendation: Limit attorney usage for non-bond related items.

Cabinet response: The district concurs with the recommendation and has taken the necessary steps to use legal counsel only when appropriate.

Budget committee recommendation: Impose a one-year moratorium on out-of-state and overnight travel. Limit travel to in-state, daytime mileage reimbursement only. No hotel or airfare costs. No exceptions.

Cabinet response: This recommendation was rejected by superintendent’s cabinet. Cabinet recommends district travel allocation remain at $75,000 annually, which is far less than the allocation in the 2015-16 approved budget. The analysis of the travel requests of the current year appears to be sufficient.

Budget committee recommendation: Recommend not filling the following open positions: director of instructional technology; director of policy and strategy; grants manager; administrative assistant business and human resources; and administrative assistant accountability, assessment and technology.

Cabinet response: Appropriate positions and district office restructuring have resulted in a net savings of $902,000 as of June 30, 2017.

Budget committee recommendation: Recommend negotiating with represented groups for a district-wide salary freeze for the 2017-18 school year. The recommendation impact on the budget would save $2 million toward the $4 million deficit.

Cabinet response: The principal’s association affirmed its support of this recommendation. While there has been communication with the other labor unions, the signed letters of agreement indicating membership preference for or against recommendation are expected soon.

The Tukwila School District is experiencing a continued decline in enrollment, the sunsetting of grant dollars, a reduction in categorical funds and a charter school entering our school community in the fall of 2018. All of this has an impact on district staff and revenue. Our goal is to remain transparent in our budgeting process and be strategic about the future of our district.

We will update all stakeholders later this summer as we continue to shape the 2017-18 budget throughout July and August. As always, we appreciate the ongoing support from our community.

Tukwila School Superintendent Nancy Coogan can be reached at 206-901-8006 or at ncoogan@tukwila.wednet.edu.