SVSD School Board Meeting Recap: Budget Cuts, SMS Decision, New Kindergarten Model

It was a long SVSD School Board meeting Thursday night, stretching until 11PM.  Many local residents attended as there were important topics on the table.

Budget Cuts:  District administration told the board to prepare for $2 million in budget cuts next year.  That’s about 4% of the district’s budget.  $800,000 are definite cuts because of the new teacher’s contract where SVSD did not reduce teachers’ salaries by the 1.9% mandated by state government and because of lower than expected SVSD enrollment.  The additional $1.2 million will be determined when the state legislature decides how to balance the state budget.  One option is more education cuts.  Roughly 80% of SVSD budget goes to staff salaries.  Superintendent Aune said SVSD has already cut other district expenditures pretty well so the remaining cuts may need to be from salary.

New Kindergarten Model:  SVSD is considering changing its Kindergarten Model to trim the budget; moving to an alternate day, full-day program could save up to $156,000.  Most savings come from reduced transportation costs, including fuel and bus driver salaries.  The state does not reimburse SVSD for mid-day bus routes.  Educational studies say this program is equal to the current half-day program.  The new model would increase contact time between 5-8 days.  There were lots of audience questions.  A big parent concern was that kids would forget what they learned with many days off between school sessions.  Kindergarten teachers said they are supportive, but have questions.  The full-day, tuition based program remains intact.

SMS Annexation:  There was a presentation on continuing our middle school learning model in a two middle school model instead of three.  TFMS and CKMS would require 14 portable classrooms to ease overcrowding.  Teacher to student ratio would remain intact.  Each grade level would have 8 core teachers.  About 150 Snoqualmie kids would be bused to North Bend, the rest bused to Fall City.  There could be expanded and more flexible exploratory programming in larger schools.  Many parents commented this was a huge benefit.  Middle school principals said there could be extra curricular activities issues.  SVSD has a no cut policy for middle school sports, so with bigger schools there could be practice space issues.  More lockers would be needed and possibly extra lunch sessions.  Principals said scheduling changes are do-able.  There were lots of questions including student safety in bigger schools, extra busing routes and how to pay for them during a time of budget cuts, how to pay for the portables.  The teachers union has a condition is current contract to form a committee that decides which teacher goes to which school, who gets head coaching jobs, etc.  They will need the next 18 months to figure out their logistics if board decides to proceed with the annexation and cut to two middle schools.

Mount Si High School:  Report from principal John Belcher on the state of MSHS.  12% of students not finishing high school in four years; nationally it’s 32%.  Over 60% of students going on to college right after high school.  This number increased each year since 2005.  20% of those drop out in their second year of college.  36% of MSHS graduates get their degree in four years, but 58% get their degree in six years.  Mr. Belcher said, “Just telling kids to go to college obviously isn’t enough anymore.”   He wants to provide more class variety in students’ key areas of interest to help an additional 40% go on to college and/or career path.  He wants to help students develop career paths early in their high school years.  One tool for this showing students which careers are in demand in Washington and King County, which are proportionally higher in science and engineering.  “Focus on the plan, the learning and the grades will come,” he said.  It was a great presentation.

I tried a new thing at this board meeting.  I gave live updates via my Facebook page.  It was well-received and will continue at the next school board meeting on February 9th at 7:30PM at the District Office, 8001 Silva Ave.   There is a school board work session on February 4th, 8AM – 12PM at the District Office.  It is open to the public, but they will not take comments.  If you wish to join my live feeds just like the Living Snoqualmie Facebook page.  You can also take part in ongoing conversation about these important district topics there.

You can also listen to the board meeting podcast here.

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  • Great recap, Danna. We have some major decisions to make in the next few months, and having public input and engagement in these decisions will help us. Thank you to everyone who is attending meetings, listening to podcasts, and providing public comment. Just want to clarify one point: I am thrilled that John Belcher is providing this great data on post-high school success of MSHS students, and I hope that we can extend this analysis to include Two Rivers students soon. Engaging in this discussion with the students, teachers, parents, and the community is essential. To clarify, based upon my understanding of the PowerPoint presentation from Mr. Belcher , the college degree percentages are the percent of entering college freshman that get a degree within 4 or 6 years, not the percentage of MSHS graduates that get a degree. Also, as I understand it, this data for college includes 2 year and 4 year colleges and technical schools (as it should), and this data counts Bellevue College as a 4 year school, even though the 4 year degrees are very limited. If it works – here is a link to the powerpoint:

  • Adding on an additional 14 portable classrooms at the middle schools – awesome. Few things speak better about a quality education and quality district than portables. Great job 40.01%. And thanks Washington State for having such a dreadful, anti-democratic law where the majority must suffer under the misguided attitudes of the minority. Where proponents of an issue can beat the opponents by 1,991 votes and still lose. At least the much-derided Prop. 13 in California drew the line at 55% super-majorities. Also, the favorable comparison of the 12% drop-out rate at MSHS with 32% national rate is unhelpful. A more apt comparison would be to contrast the drop-out rates at SVSD with Issaquah Schools, Maple Valley schools, and Lake Washington School District and draw the the appropriate conclusions. Unlike other states, I do not believe Washington permits cities to form their own school districts. A “Snoqualmie City Schools” would be one work-around for this mess.

  • Living Snoqualmie