Snoqualmie Valley School Board Hears Public Outcry And Leaves Kindergarten Model Intact

In a time of tight budgets and never-ending cuts, SVSD administration presented the Snoqualmie Valley School District School Board with a creative cost-cutting option, changing from everyday half-day kindergarten to an alternating full-day model.  In the end, though, the school board decided the savings was not enough to outweigh the risk to its youngest students.  The possible savings from the change would’ve amounted to $156,000 for SVSD’s operating budget – or about a 1/4 % per year.

New board member, Geoff Doy, said he received about 45 emails since the kindergarten model change was proposed at the January 26th school board meeting.  Of those 45, he stated only 10 supported the model change.  He noted many respondents stated they would look for alternate kindergarten options if SVSD adopted the new model, possibly lowering district enrollment next year.  Such an enrollment loss decreases the district’s operating budget.  In closing, Doy said he’d heard the passionate responses, saw the potential enrollment loss and didn’t “see the justification for the change.”

Scott Hodgins commented that he didn’t think the change was a good way to introduce new families to our school district, alluding to possible negative feelings toward the district for adopting an unpopular model change.  Carolyn Simpson said she didn’t see the “cost savings worth the educational risk” so she couldn’t support the proposal.

The school board decided to vote to not accept the district’s proposed kindergarten model change, opting to keep the current model intact.  Before the vote occurred both board President, Dan Popp, and SVSD Superintendent, Joel Aune, noted that this was a viable cost-cutting option and that by not adopting it the board would most likely need to make tough cuts in other areas.

Mr. Aune went on to mention that the district did its homework on the alternating full-day model.  It knew what the public perception would be toward such a big kindergarten change, as other districts experienced the same reaction from parents.  He also noted that research studies show the proposed change was a lateral move, stating educational studies showed the proposed model was equal to the current kindergarten model.  Mr. Aune told the board not to be surprised to see this proposal come up again in a few years as a budget cutting option.  Assistant Superintendent, Don McConkey also mentioned he expects other Washington State school districts to explore alternating full-day kindergarten models as the state legislature continues cutting education funding.

In the end, the board all voted to keep the current kindergarten model intact.  Yes, kindergarten parents, they heard your voices.

Comments

  1. Minor correction to the article: any loss of FTE student enrollment does not itself reduce the SVSD’s operating budget; instead, it reduces the amount of revenues that SVSD receives from WA state. Of course, IF the SVSD Admin is prudent, they will (and typically does) reduce their operating budget to keep it balanced against revenues. Not to miss the major point Geoff Doy was making, tho, which is that there is a risk that any operating costs saved by moving to an alternate full-day K model may be offset by loss of revenues from fewer students being enrolled (and other K schooling options taken by their parents).

    • Thanks, Stephen. Was trying to keep it basic so people understood that the loss of enrollment meant reduced money for district. Guess I simplified it too much:)

  2. I am quite happy to see the new behavior of our SVSD board of directors, hearing community members on issues and taking them seriously. Their vote to reject this particular K model proposal for next school year is the desired response to that.

    I am also witnessing new school board consideration of the public outcry against the plan of moving from 3 amply capacity middle schools to 2 over-crowded middles schools that would be the result of annexing Snoqualmie Middle School into Mt Si High School. I have bolstered optimism that they will do the right thing and reverse that plan by delaying it to some future year when there is a sensible community-support facilities plan. At this same board meeting, there was more information to make a compelling case in favor of expanding the Freshman Learning Concept that MSHS has implemented into a separate Freshman Learning Center someday, and whereas I personally was on the fence about the idea previously I’m now sold on the idea…however, it is obvious that there is simply insufficient money and communtiy taxpayer support for that move quite yet and work needs to be done to progress. Again, though, I am optimistic that in the coming couple years it can happen, if/when there is a solid strategic business plan and a subsequent supporting long-term facilities plan developed by the school board with expanded community involvement.

  3. During the School Board Work Session on Thursday night, we discussed the need for a Stragetic Plan (or whatever we want to call it) . We concluded as a team that both Geoff Doy and myself will accumulate information from about 20 school districts (about 10 each) to identify some framework and development process options. We will be looking for best practices to bring back to discuss with our board and the public. There was really great discussion amongst us all about the need for a plan with measurable outcomes and accountability. This is a huge step in the right direction, and I am pleased to be starting the process. There was really great discussion about how to include the public, and we are quizzing these other districts about their development process,how they assessed the public’s vision for their schools, and how they incorporate measurable outcomes and accountability. This plan can’t be developed overnight, and it may result in a short-term version and a long-term version, who knows. But I am so very pleased to be working toward this ultimate goal.

    • Carolyn, that sounds fantastic! I am so happy to hear the new School Board is willing to look at other neighboring districts that are already doing good things towards academic success! I can’t wait to hear what you learn and then propose to the Valley! Thank you!!

  4. So happy that School Board Members listened to incoming Kindergarten parents. It certainly makes me feel a part of our school district, rather than just an outsider.

    Do you know why the discussion of the Kindergarten Program Model is NOT on the School Board Meeting Podcast from this past Thursday? I spent an hour trying to find that section of the extremely long meeting, but the podcast cuts out right when the student reps from MSHS begin, and it cuts back in just after the Kindergarten topic had ended (end of the intermission)… I was very interested to hear the discussion, but I can’t find it!

    • Hi Wendy. Unfortunately, the batteries in the recording device went dead part way thru the kindergarten discussion. They were replaced during the intermission right after that discussion ended. The district says they are very sorry for any inconvenience this caused. The meeting was so long (over 5 hrs.)and was also preceded by an hour-long work session as well. The batteries had to be replaced twice that night.

      • Thank you so much for tracking down the reason! 🙂 I appreciate it. I wasn’t able to make it to the meeting, and it is dissapointing that I can’t “catch up”. But, I completely understand that the batteries in a recording device would be the least of their worries! 🙂 What a super long meeting.

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