2019 Legislative Session–A Little Relief


This is just a short blog highlighting some of the budget impact on TSD with the recent legislative session:

1.Broadens scope of capital fund money.  ESHB 2140 allows districts to use capital funds for “infrastructure improvement and preventative maintenance.”  Districts generally pay for a lot of building maintenance from the general fund.  This change could be used to move some of those maintenance  costs from the general fund to the capital fund, thereby leaving general funds available for other items. Of course, an argument could be made that this practice is beyond the scope of what taxpayers approved.  With TSD needing to pass a levy in 2020, it will be interesting to see how this is handled by TSD.

2.Increases ability to collect voter approved levy funds.  As noted in prior blogs, the McCleary fix limited TSD to collecting $1.50 per $1000 assessed property value, regardless of what the voters approved.  SB 5313 allows districts to collect up to $2.50 per $1000 assessed value.  The levy must be(or have been) approved by the citizens.  TSD voters have approved a levy through the 2020 school year so it can collect the additional funds starting in 2020(no additional money will come in during 2019).  TSD should receive somewhere around $3 million in early 2020, and another $3 million in late 2020.  This is the most impactful change from the 2019 session.  

3. SPED funding.  The legislature acknowledge a shortfall in the SPED(Special Ed) funding and reworked the allocation formula.  TSD will receive around $275,000 more than previously projected.  

4.Hold Harmless.  This was the most disappointing result for TSD.  Hold Harmless provisions essentially corrected some inadequacies based upon funding in prior years.  The legislature set aside about $50 million dollars to be distributed statewide to address some unintended consequences.   The formula is pretty complicated, and calculated by OSPI.   According to OSPI, TSD will get about $284K from the hold harmless funds.  While the $284K will help, the original projections by legislative staff indicated TSD might get somewhere around $2.2 million.  TSD was extremely disappointed, and surprised, that it is only receiving $284K.  Notably, Olympia’s portion will be $3.4 million and North Thurston’s will be $2.8 million.  

The legislative session provided some relief.  However, with a budget that exceeds $80 million, the relief was much less than desired by TSD.  After 3 to 4 years of surpluses where TSD bulked up the savings between $1-2 million a year, TSD has already taken about $4.5 million from its savings account to cover the 2018/19 shortfall.  From the tenor at the most recent board meeting, there was no indication that the additional funds “solved” the budget issues continuously expressed by TSD.  I get the impression that TSD is hoping to limit raiding the savings too much more this year(maybe $1-2 million or so) and get closer to break even during the 2019/20 school year.    

TSD BY THE NUMBERS

I thought it might be fun to check out some demographics and compare TSD to other local Districts–Olympia School District(OSD) and North Thurston Public Schools(NTPS) in particular.  I also compared TSD and the other districts to the statewide averages.  

All of the information within this Blog was obtained from the OSPI website, which has a wealth on information, and based upon the 2017/18 school years(the most recent year with available data).  From what I can tell, OSPI generally relies on information as provided by the Districts, so the numbers are “as reported” by the Districts. 

For the most part, I tried to stay away from any commentary, and did not analyze causation.  The objective was to just provide what I believe is some interesting data.  Also, for consistency, I tried to use the same labels and descriptions as are used on the OSPI website.  Here is what I learned.

STAFF EXPERIENCE/EDUCATION/DIVERSITY TSD TEACHERS, ON AVERAGE, ARE MORE EXPERIENCED THAN THEIR PEERS. 

On average, teachers statewide have 12.9 years of experience.  TSD teachers average about 15.2 years.  The percentage of TSD teachers with a Master’s degree is pretty comparable with the statewide average, while the number of teachers with full certification is slightly less than the statewide average.   

VERY SIMILAR TO ITS PEERS, TSD’S STAFF IS MORE FEMALE, AND MORE WHITE, THAN ITS STUDENT POPULATION.   

Female students makeup about 51% of the population at TSD.  This is pretty similar to the OSD and NTPS.  However, over 70% of teachers at all three districts are Female. 

Similarly, while roughly 27.7% of the students are Non-White, the teaching staff is only 6.8% Non-White. The disproportion in OSD(32.4% Non White Students with 7% Non-White teachers) and NTPS(almost 50% Non-White students with only 11% Non-White teachers) is even greater.   

SPENDING ON A PER STUDENT BASIS

TSD SPENDS LESS PER STUDENT THAN ITS PEERS.

TSD spends about $11,769 per pupil.  This is about $500 less per student than OSD, $900 less than NTPS and over $1000 less than the statewide average. 

Each of the Districts receives pretty close to the same amount of money, per student, from the State.  However, the local levy dollars vary depending on the District.  The State has capped the amount of money that can be collected(which cap was recently raised, but is not effective until 2020).  About 6% of TSD students do not live within the District, and TSD does not receive any levy money for those students.  The rate at which TSD accepts transfer students(more than twice that of OSD and exponentially more than NTPS–see prior blog for details) certainly contributes to the reduced amount spent on each student.

AS SHOWN ON THE CHART ABOVE, WHEN COMPARED TO OTHER DISTRICTS, TSD DEVOTES A SMALLER PERCENTAGE OF MONEY TO STAFF, AND A LARGER PERCENTAGE TO NON-STAFF.

Of the funds spent on a per pupil basis, OSPI segregates the expenditures into Staff, and non-Staff. What is intriguing here is that OSD, NTPS and the state average all have the per pupil staff amount at around $10,500, while TSD has a per pupil staff amount at only $8,864.  This means TSD allocates a larger percentage(10%-20% of its resources to non-staff expenses).   

I am not sure if one or the other is better, and I would imagine there are persuasive arguments for expenditures in each category.  In any event, TSD appears to be a bit of an anomaly when it comes to deciding how much to spend on staff vs. non-staff. 

As noted previously, this data represents a time span that was before the recently negotiated contracts were implemented.  I do not believe the new contracts would have much effect on the allocation as compared other districts, but am quite certain the amount spent on staff in each District increased significantly.  

DIVERSITY

TSD’S ENROLLMENT IS LESS DIVERSE THAN SURROUNDING DISTRICTS, OR THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE

72.3% of students attending TSD are White, with 27.7% identifying as Non-White.  This is pretty close to the same makeup as OSD, but far different than NTPS and the statewide average(each around 50% White).  Notably, with the exception of out of district transfers, TSD has little control over the makeup of its population.   

SOME MISCELLANEOUS ENROLLMENT CATEGORIES TRACKED BY OSPI OFFER INSIGHT INTO THE DIVERSITY OF THE CURRENT POPULATION

TSD has fewer low income students than most, a very comparable number of disabled and homeless students, with about double the military parent population.  For reference, OSPI defines low income as a family being  eligible for free or reduced lunches.  About 46% of the students statewide qualify, while less than one third of students in TSD and OSD are eligible.  As would be expected, with the proximity to JBLM, the military population is larger than most, but not nearly that of NTPS(15.6%).  

ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE USING THE BENCHMARKS TRACKED BY OSPI, STUDENTS IN TSD APPEAR TO SURPASS NTPS AND THE STATEWIDE AVERAGE, BUT FALL SHORT OF THE RESULTS IN OSD.  

As you can see, TSD students exceed state averages(and NTPS) by roughly 7%, and trail OSD’s results by roughly the same margin.  Also, OSPI tracks how many 9th graders pass all their classes, which, according to OSPI, is pretty correlative with graduation rates.  TSD exceeds the state average on 9th grade pass rates, is on par with NTPS, and lags behind OSD.  

CONCLUSION

Data is data, and the numbers speak for themselves. The purpose of this blog was to simply provide demographic, experience and performance data to shed some light on relevant information within TSD.  I hope the information was helpful.  

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