Since I wrote the Blog in
the Spring about class sizes and noted several classes were above impact, we
requested the class sizes for this year to see how they compare. Since
the strike in the summer of 2018, the community has heard a lot of concerns
surrounding class size. This Fall brought on more
restrictions with the implementation of the K-3 legislation. This Blog
entry looks at elementary class size in TSD this year compared to last
Starting with a little
CLASS SIZE AND HOW IT
AFFECTS THE BUDGET
size management is an important component of the budgeting process.
For example, the simplest way to reduce class sizes is to provide more
teachers, which comes at a cost. With budgeting, the “impact”
number is also an important component. Having classes at, or over, impact
also comes at a financial cost to TSD. From a budgeting standpoint, the ideal
scenario would be one where every class is just below impact.
The contract negotiated
between TEA and TSD specifies an ideal maximum class sizes(“impact”),
which varies with grades/classes. Depending on grade, level
impact numbers at TSD are 22-27 for elementary age. The
following table is from the current TEA/TSD contract from this fall. This is
the list of impact numbers at each grade level. Once a class exceeds this
number it is considered at impact.
Once enrollment in a
class is over impact, TSD is required to (1) provide a
paraprofessional in the class for 2.75 hours of the day (this appears to be the total
regardless of how many students over impact), or (2)compensate the
affected teacher with an “overload payment”(elementary: $22 per
day per student over impact). The wording in the contract leaves it up to
the teacher’s discretion which option they choose.
From contract Article
The District and the Association are committed to work toward class sizes that
do not exceed the class size levels shown in the chart below. If a level is
exceeded, elementary teachers shall be entitled to two and three quarter (2.75) hours of “impact paraprofessional” time, assigned to
the individual classes that exceed the class size level, unless other
creative solutions are /developed at the site. Teachers may elect to receive overload
payment or other flexible options in lieu of paraprofessional time”
Studies have shown that
classes being at or over impact results in a less than ideal learning
environment(unless a paraprofessional is also in the class). The Blog
I wrote last year sites some of these studies and goes more in depth in this
discussion and can be found here.
SO HOW IS TSD DOING ON
CLASS SIZES COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?
See the chart below, the
red numbers indicate the class is over impact.
Class sizes from October
The class counts listed
in red are classes that are over impact. This year we also requested
information on how many paraprofessionals are in the classrooms. In
looking at the data, it appears there are only 2 paraprofessionals who are
assigned to work in the classes over impact at the elementary level.
Looking at the chart above, there are 17 classes over impact, which would
mean most teachers have opted to take the impact pay over having a
paraprofessional in their classrooms.
The chart below breaks
down the percentage of classes at and over impact by school.This
Fall, 13% of the classes at the elementary level are over impact and
another 8% are at impact. Some elementary schools have more classes
at and over impact than others. Last year 22% of the classes
at the elementary level were over impact and another 17% were at impact, so
the number of classes at impact has significantly reduced over the last year. PGS
has the most classes over impact, followed by LRE and EOE. All the
classes at BLE and THE fall below the impact number set by the TEA
It should also be noted, that beginning this fall,TSD was required to have K-3 classes at a maximum of 17 or forfeit significant funding. Currently, only 3 of the 88 K-3 classes in TSD(3%) meet this criteria in strict application. This is actually less classes meeting this criteria than last year(11% met the 17 students or less criteria last year). But as I understand, the legislature put in place some ways around an actual class size of 17. The school districts are allowed to also count all certificated teachers including specialists as part of the teacher/student ratio. I am uncertain if TSD was able to get the numbers to work out to be able to receive the additional funding.
THERE ARE DIRECT
FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES WITH HAVING CLASSES OVER IMPACT.
At the time of our
records request the elementary schools had a total of 17 classes over
impact and a total of 30 students over impact. So that is 17 classes
that either have a paraprofessional or provide extra compensation to the
teacher. Providing the extra compensation to teachers pursuant to
the contract is $22 per day, per student, would result in a total of $660
per day and $118,800 for the school year. If, instead, TSD paid 17
paraprofessionals the required 2.75 hours in each class the would
cost somewhere between $134,000-$185,000. Notably, these numbers do not
factor in the cost of benefits, which is probably at least another 20% or so.
Of course, TSD does receive approximately $9,000 per year per student in state
funding so it can help the balance sheet to put students in classes over
In the scheme of an
$85 million dollar budget, the financial cost is pretty minimal,
and probably requires little consideration. However, the greater cost
is to the students in each of those over crowded classrooms, especially low
income and minority students. While the financial cost to pay a
teacher impact fees would be less costly than assigning a paraprofessional in
the classroom, from a student’s perspective and a parent’s perspective, studies
support the position that another professional in the classroom helps to
mitigate the negative impacts of overcrowded classrooms. I was
unable to find a study that investigated whether paying a teacher
more to have a larger class also mitigates the impact. With the current
budget situation, TSD schools will continue to be faced with some difficult
decisions regarding which of these choices is best for the students in
TSD. It would also be interesting to know which of these classes have out
of district students which may also contribute to the over crowding. We
have asked TSD for this data and have been told they do not keep data on which
grades in each school out of district students are currently assigned.
This might be data that would be helpful in determining how well we are
doing at strategically placing out of district students, but without this data
we can only assume a straight percentage which would mean that close to 3-6% of
the students in each class are out of district and therefore account for the
overcrowding in each of these classes.
As always, we welcome
comments and questions. Email us here.
The time was not
published on the calendar, and the agenda had the meeting starting at 8:30 am,
I did arrive about 8:45am, but when I arrived they were discussing the
unexcused absent policy. I am not sure of exactly what I missed of
the meeting, since they were rearranging the agenda to accommodate those who
were listed on the agenda. I do believe I missed the discussion on
Policy 6100 regarding “REVENUES FROM LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL
SOURCES” found here. I would encourage
those of you interested in the meeting agenda items, to watch for the recording
to show up on the website-here.
I plan to have a
couple follow-up blogs about items discussed during this meeting, mainly the
need for a new elementary and middle school, so watch for those blog articles
in the future.
The policy can be found here. The discussion
was mainly surrounding what they would count as unexcused absences leading to
suspension, and how they would be handling continued unexcused absences.
It is no longer attached to kids who are not attending school(ie home
hospital, etc). They discussed some special circumstances surrounding the
policy. For more information and more of the discussion, please see the
video when they publish on the TSD site.
Ballot Measure Discussion
Cory Plager-D A Davidson
It appears DA Davidson
was hired to advise the district and board on the types of bonds and levys they
could put on the ballot. He went through the basic types and then talked
about application of each one. The discussion included whether or not
they would put together a levy/bond proposal to include both the M&O items
and the new school or do one for the M&O and then later ask for the new
school. Below are the slides presented showing the different types of
bonds/levys and taxes generated by different types of levys/bonds.
The options available:
The Pros and Cons of a voter approved bond. The major con they discussed was the super majority. They would need 60% of the voters to approve, and they have to have at least 40% of the voters who vote in the general election vote on the measure. A discussion of timing based on which election the school bond would follow. However, decisions need to be made quickly to get any measure on the February ballot. The filing deadline to do so is December 13, 2019.
They discussed non-voted bonds. These have more restrictions and depending on the amount, would require a public hearing. They discussed using something like this to pay for planning a new elementary school.
They discussed the success of bonds passing based on having M&O (maintenance and operations) proposals linked to a Capital Project (new construction). They pointed out that single proposals pass at a lower rate than running multiple proposals at the same time. I am not sure what their data depicts as far as what areas they encompass:
They also looked at the assessed values in our area. Notice the upward trend the past few years, with a 7.7 % preliminary growth predicted for our area. He discussed this possibly being low, since they don’t have all the new construction calculated in.
The levy that passed a few years ago is set to end, and the funds collected will also decrease.
The tax rate history was
also discussed. The amount TSD has been able to collect in the past was a
great deal higher than after the McCleary decision. The “fix”
increased the amount from $1.50 to $2.50, which will start in 2020 and is
not depicted on this graph. Projected collections are in the next slide.
This shows the total increase based on the McCleary Decision fix.
This slide shows the amount collected if they were to put a 2 year proposal together based on different rates. They are calculating based on a 6% growth (previous slide has a 7.7% growth). I believe this was a discussion just based on collecting for the maintenance and operations proposal.
The district has approximately $12 million in maintenance and operations (M&O) costs that they are looking to obtain funds to pay for. Below is the itemized list of items needing funds:
Each of these items were
discussed, student devices include chrome books replacement and new
implementation, Staff devices-computers etc will need to be replaced, building
and classroom technology. Also on the list was preplanning and design of
a new elementary they discussed how this would be a shortcut to getting
the school built faster as this would take a year off the implementation if
they ran a separate levy to build a school. I haven’t looked at the
budget approved at the last meeting and am not sure if these are already on the
proposed budget or if these are new items.
I will paraphrase his
discussion as best as I can.
He started out with a
followup. He discussed the issued brought up by the PGS staff due to the
increased numbers they have experienced this year. When they first
noticed the population growth happening they added another kindergarten teacher
and paraeducator positions. He discussed the strain this puts on the rest
of the staff-mainly the counseling staff. PGS has over 600 students.
The state funds counselors at 1 per 800 student at the elementary level.
Our schools are receiving more than is funded at the state level.
The district feels there is a need and have funded more counselors at the
schools. Adding administrators does take some strain off this need, but
is not as good as a counselor. PGS has a Principal and a full-time
Assistant Principal. They do not have funds to provide another counselor
at this time, and they are looking at problem solving in this area.
Kim asked if the staff
from Together which is housed at PGS could offer some services, Sean did say
Together does have a site coordinator and that does provide an additional
resource. He did say they were going to look at that option as well to
The discussion then
turned to the projections at both the elementary and middle level with putting
together a bond and/or levy in the near future. The district is planning
on building new elementary school and discussed the possibility of a new middle
school. The slides used in the discussion were put together by Parametrix
last year for the Boundary Review Committee. (I plan to write a blog on
this particular topic). Using these predictions, Sean concluded that
“we know we have a need for additional facilities.”
He discussed the to-do
list. He went through the items on the following slide.
They discussed the bond
to upgrade technology, but mentioned this bond is used up. So there
will be a need to replace and upgrade those devices in the future. This
would be continued implementation to get all the schools to a 1 to 1 ratio on
chrome books as well as replacements. Jim clarified that there is still
money in the bond to complete the implementation, but they are going to need to
do something to get replacements. Sean did explain they are looking into
the benefit of the 1 to 1 chromebook benefits. This will be
discussed later as they get information about the benefits.
He discussed the safety
upgrades they feel are needed at several of the schools. Cameras need
installation and upgrades, sprinkler systems need installation and upgrade.
Power lines owned by the district need to be replaced.
If all the projects were
to be completed, they would need $12.7 million. This brought on the
discussion of going through with a bond right now to build a school, do you
back burner these projects, do you package these with the new school?
A 2 year Capital Levy was discussed to cover these costs instead of
running the school bond at this time. (see slide presentation above).
And then as this expires come back with the bond for the new school.
Trying to keep the tax rate steady. He discussed putting in the
planning for a new school in the capital levy to cut some time off the school
being started if they waited to propose the new school levy. They
discussed taking 3 years to get the building built after the bond passes.
The earliest a school being built would be approximately 2024.
The middle school and
high school boundaries were brought up. Sean did mention that they are
trying to address transfer processes before they can go into a secondary
boundary adjustment discussion. They are asking Jim Duggan to again help
with the transfer policies both inter district (transfers from other districts)
and intra district(transfers within our district). And in the spring
start work on the secondary boundary adjustment discussion with an
implementation in the following fall.
They hope to have the
transfer policies in place so that families that have been affected by the
boundary adjustments can make decisions well in advance.
Kim brought up her
opinion for the need to add a middle school with the elementary also.
(watch for my future blog on this topic). Trying to keep boundary
adjustments off until they add a new middle school.
It was brought up by Jim
that in order to get state funds for a new school you have to have a
significant amount of students in portables or you don’t get those funds.
Mel also brought up that
with the enrollment down the state will look at trends, which the last 2 years
has been down. The rest of the board and superintendent seemed to think
that this was not the case. (I plan to discuss this in a future
The discussion led to
what they were to propose for the capital levy vs. pairing it with the school
bond vs. do nothing. Kim brought up that if we waited until next year to
do the school bond, it would be after a presidential election and therefore
would require more voters to validate the vote, which the board or
superintendent seemed apprehensive about doing this
Andrea stated she would
support the early levy to cover the preplanning of a school. Rita brought
up that this discussion will be a big part of their upcoming budget workshop.
Kim asked to get information on just an elementary school vs an
elementary school with a middle school.
Sean did mention that
they would also be looking at what type of bond/levy the board would support.
Rita asked for a prioritized list.
Another elementary and
high school were also brought up as possibilities for future.
Some fun facts with
numbers in the district presented by the Superintendent:
90.5 -the percentage of
the school year remaining.
15,250 – the number of
meals prepared by food services each week.
83.1 – percentage of
students who averaged fewer than 2 absences a month.
10 – the percentage of
instruction missed by students having more than 2 absences a moth.
Board Member Comments
Thanked the EOE principal
for being the first to participate in the new system the board is trying out,
where they meet with the principal in a work session to get information on the
work they are doing. She has been enjoying watching her daughter play
soccer at the middle school. Praised TMS for their fundraising, $20K raised.
She is headed to Spokane for Leg. Assembly to discuss WASDA’s
legislative priorities for the coming year.
She met with the PGS
Principal and the counselors to discuss what a day in the life of a school
administrator is like. She met with a couple parent leaders to listen to
them about what is happening in their schools. She attended the Together
breakfast. She thanked Khalia for her time on the board. She
thanked Sean for his efforts.
She discussed her
previous time at “Leg.” She stopped by PGS. She also praised
the new process meeting with the principal beforehand.
Melissa Beard (not present)
Khalia Davis (not present, resignation effective 9/25/19).
As always I would
encourage you to watch for the video to be posted for those of you to watch as
I am sure I missed some items. We welcome comments, questions and
suggestions, just email us as firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you have
comments or questions specific to items discussed, please email the board
This is the 3rd and final
installment of my budget workshop series. Part 1 was a short entry where
I commended the TSD Board for engaging in productive and informative
discussions regarding the budget. In Part 2, I outlined some “big
picture” concepts, some which represent a change of course, when it comes
to how TSD is approaching the 2019/20 budget. In this installment, I
delve into a few specifics. As a reminder, the TSD Board engaged in
an depth discussion about the budget as part of a budget workshop on
August 8, 2019. Video of the workshop is on the TSD website and can be
TSD STAFF DECREASES
Salaries and benefits
account for over 80% of the approximately $92 million($92MM) in
expenses budgeted by TSD. According to TSD, teachers account for
about $40MM, while classified staff is another $16MM. Employee
benefits are roughly another $22MM. TSD tried to reduce its expenditures
by about $5MM this year. When 80% of your budget is staff related
costs, it is difficult to make any significant reductions without substantial
reductions in staff costs.
budgeted to Hold/Eliminate several non-teacher positions. These
include: 25 paraprofessionals, 3 maintenance, 1 Fiscal, 1 Human resources, 3
TOSA(teachers on Special Assignment—now being sent back to the classroom)
and 1 Technology position. It is possible these cuts can be adjusted in
some regard. The most impactful cut is likely the elimination of 25
Paraprofessionals are a
great resource for TSD as they provide classroom assistance to teachers, and in
some cases can fulfill student/teacher ratios in overcrowded classrooms. They
are not required to be certificated teachers, and are paid at a significantly
lower rate than teachers. Notably, the TEA/TSD contract, like most
teacher contracts, actually requires paraprofessional assistance in the
classroom in some cases(usually when classes are at impact–overcrowded).
Teachers can generally opt for increased compensation or paraprofessional
assistance when classrooms are at impact.
Frankly, TEA pulled
off a pretty big victory on this one as TSD did not eliminate any certificated teaching
positions. The TSD/TEA contract requires TSD to send out notices
of potential layoffs to individual teachers no later than May 15th, and
TSD opted not to send out any such notices. Therefore, it was compelled
to renew all teachers contracts. Notably, the decision to lay off
teachers did not have to be made by May 15th. TSD simply had to
notify teachers by May 15th if there was a possibility their individual
contracts would not be renewed.
From a budgeting
perspective, this seems a little out of whack as certificated teachers are by
far the biggest overall cost in the total budget. It does not take
much financial wherewithal to realize having your largest expense “untouchable”
when drastic cuts are needed is not ideal. To be fair, the decision was
made before Superintendent Dotson started. Highlighting the error was the
fact that TSD learned shortly after the May 15th deadline had passed that it
was going to get about $2 million less in hold harmless funds than it had
already projected receiving, thereby necessitating even deeper cuts. Here
is the link to a blog I did on that
decision back in May.
It seems to me the
prudent thing to do would have been to notify a dozen or so teachers that
their spots mightbe eliminated, just to keep its options
open. TSD could have then opted to renew the contracts prior to the
school year—once it had a better understanding of the status of the
I took issue with this
move at the time as the decision to not even send notices eliminated the
potential cost saving measure. I am not saying teaching positions should
have been eliminated, but there is no excuse for making such a consideration
impossible knowing $3MM(which turned out to be $5MM) or so needed to be
cut from the budget. What ended up happening is that TSD scrambled to
reduce the budget and was left with having to make all the staff cuts with
Administrative and paraprofessional employees.
In hindsight, this was
even more problematic as, even with the cuts, TSD projects it will have a
deficit of $1.8MM during 2019/20.
I would hope TSD will be
a little more prudent during the upcoming year and at least send out notices if
there is $3MM or so that needs to be cut from the budget. Once again, the
notices simply provide an option, and TSD could ultimately opt not to complete
TSD IS USING CAPITAL
PROJECTS FUNDS TO PAY SOME SALARIES
Levies and bonds approved
by voters can only be used for specified purposes. Traditionally, TSD
bond money has gone to Capital projects(maintenance, construction and
improvement of infrastructure), and has not been used for salaries to any
TSD has broken with that
tradition and will now pay some staff costs from the bond funds. The
effect is that TSD is going to shift about $750,000 from Capital projects,
and instead use the $750,000 to pay salaries for those working on Capital
projects. This is a tactic being used by many school districts under the
new funding model. The theory being that funding the employees working on
the capital projects is an allowable use of the bonds voters designated to be
devoted to Capital projects. I am unaware of any provisions within the
law, or the bonds, that suggests this tact is not allowed.
Of course, every action
has an equal and opposite reaction. The reaction in this instance is that
there will be $750,000 less to spend on Capital projects. I am unclear on
how this will actually impact the Capital projects and may take that up in
another blog. Notably at recent meetings, the Board asked probing
questions regarding “what is not going to be
built/maintained/improved.” I also imagine this will be part of
the discussion the next time voters are asked to approve a bond.
Maybe voters do not care, maybe they want money spent on salaries,
DESPITE THE NEGATIVE
ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES, TSD CONTINUES TO SEEK INCREASED ENROLLMENT
One concern I continue to
have is the expressed sentiment that we need, or desire, more students.
This is illogical to me. I often hear the Board and administrators make
comments like ”we hope enrollment increases.” TSD should serve the
students it has, and budget accordingly. This sentiment appears to
be based on a(1) a lack of recognition that increased enrollment actually
increases the deficit, and (2) a desire to save as many jobs as possible,
regardless of the economics.
As I have pointed out, on
a cost per student basis, the more students TSD has, the larger the
budget deficit becomes. The state is not giving TSD enough money for
basic education. In general terms, TSD receives about $9,000
per student per year from the State under the current funding model, but
it costs just over $11,000 to educate each student according to TSD’s
budget. In simple terms, the state is shorting TSD about $2000 per
student and TSD has to go find that money somewhere else. Here is a link to a blog that delves
into the topic a little deeper.
TSD currently fills the
gap with a combination of levy money and dipping into the savings account.
Dipping into the savings account is not sustainable, and using levy funds is
risky, especially given the fact the levy expires in 2020 and is dependent on
voter approval of a new levy.
Of course, TSD must
educate the students who live within the TSD boundaries, and come up with a
budget that does so. However, TSD controls how many out of district
students it enrolls. As has been noted in the past, TSD has a
disproportionate number of out district students(see blog here), for which it
receives no levy money(those funds stay in the student’s resident
district), thus creating an even greater financial burden The deficit
with Out of District students is probably closer to $3500 per
student. Either way, increased enrollment is a financial loss.
The TSD leadership’s desire for increased enrollment is contrary to basic
I believe the desire for
increased enrollment is rooted in a “we need to save jobs at all
costs” mentality. I am not in favor of anyone losing his or her
job, but staffing to demand is an economic reality of any responsible
operation, including schools districts.
Staff costs account for
well over 80% of the budget. In order to budget appropriately, fewer
students creates a need to budget down, which inevitably will include fewer
employees. TSD reduced staff significantly over the last year, and still
projects to run at a $1.8MM deficit.
TSD has been reluctant to
reduce certificated teachers. TSD needs to appreciate the reality
that it must operate within it means. While there is no desire to
have anyone lose a job, TSD should budget to reality, and not to some
optimistic hope that enrollment is increased. This is especially true
given the fact that we are educating students at a financial loss and more
students increases the deficit.
I think TSD should look
to be the best, not the biggest. I am confused as to the mindset of those
who “hope enrollment increases” and/or seek to have a liberal policy when it
comes to accepting out of district transfers. Those individuals appear
disinclined to accept the reality that the budget issues are not an enrollment
problem, and, at least under the current funding model, increased enrollment
actually exacerbates the budget deficiencies.
STRATEGIC ACCEPTANCE OF
INTERDISTRICT TRANSFER STUDENTS
I had a discussion
with Superintendent Dotson a while back wherein he indicated he felt IDT
students could help with the budget to the extent TSD strategically accepted,
and placed, those students. This would be a welcome change of course
as some schools(especially THS) choose to accept IDT student independent, and
well in advance of any planning.
During prior years, TSD
did very little planning with respect to enrollment of IDT students. My
experience is that TSD accepts IDT students well in advance of having any
ability to strategically place student with budget considerations in mind.
Superintendent Dotson confirmed that he is hopeful, and will attempt to
implement a plan, that monitors IDT students in a better fashion. I have
a public records request into TSD and will report back about the IDT student
numbers for 2019/20.
IDT students should be
welcomed if, and where, there is capacity, but should not displace resident students. I
am hopeful that, unlike the prior administration, the new administration will
take the needs of resident students into account as the primary determination
with respect to IDT students.
I only covered a few
topics, which I thought might be of the most interest. In my view, the
current TSD Board is much more engaged, and transparent, which allows more
insight into the decision making process. I will continue to blog about
financial(and other) matters. As always, we welcome your
As our followers know, I have tried
to delve into many budget issues TSD has worked through the last year or
so. The TSD Board recently conducted a budget workshop on August 8, 2019
that was very insightful. Further, while I was unable to attend the August
22, 2019 Board meeting(and will catch the video when it comes out), the Board
should have passed the budget for the upcoming year. I wanted to
hit some highlights, which will take a couple blogs. My plan is to put
together a multi-part blog over the next few weeks hitting some of the high
points. This part is a very short entry about the general process, and
what I see as a little different tact than has been present in prior
CHANGE OF COURSE
I have been very critical of the TSD
Board with respect to what I felt was a lack of interest in financial items
over the past year. Comparatively, I want to commend the Board for its
work over the last few months. The Board members appear to be very
interested in the budget. I have observed them asking insightful
questions, expressing a pretty good understanding(or at least an interest in
learning) about the inner workings of the budget. I hope this focus
continues. Great work on the part of the Board.
In a similar vein, I have been critical
of the TSD Admin at times, primarily because the decision making process
appeared to be kept within a tight knit group, with just a few people involved
in making really important, and impactful, decisions. The most recent
meetings have evidenced an eagerness to be much more forthright with
information, and seek out input from many sources as part of the decision
making process. This practice has been a breath of fresh air, and I am
hopeful the open dialogue continues. Kudos to new Superintendent Sean Dotson
and Financial Director Jim Brittain.
The Board recently met and conducted
a Budget workshop, which can be viewed at the following link. The video is about an hour
and 45 minutes long and covers many topics. This might be the best
summary, and discussion, available of the current and immediate future status
of the TSD Budget. The meeting was co-led by Dotson and Brittain, with
significant participation from the TSD Board. Well worth the time if you
have any interest in the budget.
That being said, I agree with some of
the decisions, take issue with others, and do have some thoughts as to
what should occur moving forward. In upcoming blogs, maybe a 3 part
series, I will offer some insight. For now, I would encourage readers to
watch the workshop video.
I do not
think it is any secret that I have been critical of the TSD Superintendent and
Board performance over the last year or so. The Board and
Superintendent clearly care about the families in TSD, and devote countless
hours to improving the education process. That being said, I am growing
more and more concerned about the items to which the Board devotes, and opts
not devote, time and resources. I am continually surprised by the lack of
involvement when it comes to decisions that have significant impact in
TSD. In talking with others, I realized I am not alone. There is a
growing sense that while the work the Board does is good, TSD would
benefit much more from the Board devoting more time and effort to the core
duties it is charged to fulfill. So, I decided to do a 3 part blog series
on the topic. Here is what I plan to cover:
Part 1—What are the core duties of the TSD Board and Superintendent
and what role does the current Board and Superintendent play.
Part 2—I will cover a handful of specific examples(some of which are
ongoing) where I think the past practice created less than desired
Part 3—I will propose specific changes that I think should be
implemented, especially with an underlying belief that the turnover
of leadership presents a unique opportunity to continue to improve
Leadership is changing.
welcomed two new Board members(Andrea McGhee and Khalia Davis) over the past
5 months. In addition, Kim Reykdal has announced she will not seek
re-election this fall. Further, Superintendent Bash, and Assistant
Superintendent Chris Woods, have each resigned their positions with
the change in leadership presents a good opportunity to start a discussion about things
moving forward. Unlike some of the prior blogs, this series will be
heavily weighted with opinions and commentary. The first part(this one)
will deal with the core duties the TSD Board and Superintendent are assigned
to carry out, with some commentary setting forth my perception of their
happens at Board meetings.
Board meetings are generally held twice per month. The evening
meetings(2nd Thursday) are at the District Office and the morning
meetings(4th Thursday) are usually at one of the TSD schools.
agenda is provided at the meeting, and the President of the TSD Board
conducts. The Superintendent(John Bash) and Finance Director(Jim
Brittain) usually make a report. There is time reserved
for public comment(30 minutes or so) where anyone can take 3-5 minutes to talk
about a topic of their choosing. There is also
usually a presentation(20-40 minutes) by someone from the
hosting school highlighting some program. At many meetings, someone
from TSD will make a presentation about a program.
there is a “consent” agenda that is voted upon. The items on
the consent agenda are rarely discussed.
20 minutes of the meeting are reserved for Board comment(each member takes a
few minutes to talk about whatever they like). This usually results in the
Board members talking about what they have been up to(i.e. “I had a great
time at the BHHS play” or “I visited PGS and met with the
teachers”, etc). They are usually positive comments about good things
that are happening in the District.
having attended and viewed several TSD Board meetings, and having served on a
number of non-profit Boards, I was relatively surprised at the lack of what I
would call “business”(discussion, debate and decision making) that
occurs at the Board meetings. That prompted me to look up what the TSD
Board is charged with doing. The TSD website provides as follows:
Board Directors make all final decisions regarding school district priorities,
policies, personnel, textbooks, expenditures, and growth management. Directors
adopt a budget which is necessary to maintain and operate the schools, levy
taxes to help support the budget, and submit bond issues to finance
construction projects to the citizens of the district.
I must say
that I was surprised by three things: (1) the primary purpose of
the meeting appears to be reporting to the Board, and the Board takes
little, if any, action during the meeting; (2) there is virtually no discussion
between the Board members, and they speak infrequently; (3) Very little, if
any, organizational business is actually conducted by the Board
members rarely ask each other questions, discuss topics or engage in any public
debate. As an example, the public comment portion is often used by
citizens to voice concerns or desires regarding specific issues(budget, out of
district students, boundary changes, etc). It is very rare for any of the
Board members to offer clarification, ask questions, or even address comments
made by the public.
members vote upon, and therefore do make the “final” decisions.
However, as will be discussed in future blogs, almost without exception in
the meetings I have attended, these votes occur after a presentation(usually by
the Superintendent) after which there has been no real discussion. In
many instances, the Board relies much too heavily on the recommendation of the
Superintendent and does not appear to be making an informed decision.
to the TSD website, the Superintendent is charged with the following:
Superintendent is appointed by the School Board as the chief administrator and
executive officer. With the assistance of staff, the Superintendent directs,
guides and coordinates the total educational and administrative program in
accordance with Board policies and the rules and regulations of the State of
Washington. The Superintendent attends all Board meetings and brings
recommendations to the Board for action in carrying out the business of the
contact with John Bash was during the contract negotiations last
summer. I have since met with John Bash on a number of occasions.
He has been open and candid with me, and provided information as
requested. We often disagree, but I have found him to be cordial and do
believe he is doing what he believes is best for TSD.
perspective, John spends a lot of time meeting with TSD employees. John
also attends virtually all school board meetings and provides reports on
As will be
discussed in the next segment, I believe John’s authority and decision making
has been much broader than it should be. For all intents and purposes, he
essentially makes pretty much every impactful decision when it comes to
TSD. I am surprised that these decisions are not being made by the Board
and the Board members do not devote meeting time to debating issues.
John’s role, at least according to the job description, is to bring
recommendations to the Board. He does that, but very rarely do the Board
members ask probing questions that indicate an understanding of the decisions
that need to be made. In fact, when a question is posed by the
Board, the question itself evidences a lack of knowledge of the underlying
facts and John often spins the answer with some generalization that takes the
discussion off topic.
that I will discuss in the next blog is the budget “scrub” that has
been referenced in most TSD meetings during 2019. None of the Board
members were provided a list of the cuts(roughly $5 million) prior to the
“scrub” being completed. When a question was asked about the
cuts, John or Jim provided a few examples, but offered no real clarity as to the
big picture. Once the scrub was done, at a subsequent meeting in
March, Kim Reykdal asked about the list. I am convince the Board members
have no real understanding of what has been cut. The list was eventually
provided to the Board at the May 23rd meeting. The list has yet to be made
As I will
discuss in an upcoming blog, removing $5 million in expenses seems like a
pretty big decision, that should be debated and decided by the Board.
However, that process did not occur.
appreciate my views may differ from that of the families in TSD, and maybe the
community wants the Board members to keep doing what they are doing.
However, I sense, especially with the events over the past several months, I am
not alone in an island in my views. I believe the topic is worthy of a
next blog . . .Specific examples of decisions
that have been made . . .
How is TSD
doing on class size at the High School level?
blog discussed the class size in TSD elementary schools. For that information click here. Unlike class size studies for elementary schools, there
isn’t really much out there discussing recommended class sizes for a high
school class. This blog mainly addresses the seats available in the
classroom(likely around 25-35) and the stated threshold capacity. Some
classes are more intensive, and take more time outside of the classroom, than
other classes. For instance a PE class is less likely than an English
class to add a significant amount of time to a teacher with added
students. With not much outside TSD available, the contract
between TEA and TSD is used as the baseline for class size in this discussion.
37.E.5 of the TEA contracts states as follows:
“Secondary Class Size and Targeted Average.
The employee workload in secondary classrooms (except band, choir,
orchestra, and PE) shall average no more than 27 students per period,
with a class size of 30 for impact. These calculations shall exclude
student assistants or peer tutors. If an individual class exceeds the
impact level (30), overload compensation will apply. If the overall
targeted average of 27 is exceeded, overload compensation will
apply. Employees will only receive overload compensation for one of
the two provisions, whichever provides the greater compensation.”
does that mean? Classes averaging more than 27 students throughout
the day, or a single class over 30 students were agreed by TEA and TSD as
the threshold for impact. From this one can conclude that 27 is the
desired maximum in a class. From a budget perspective, this means that
any class over 30 students automatically qualifies for “overload
compensation”, and any teacher who has an average of more than 27 students
throughout the day qualifies for “overload compensation”.
public records request revealed that most of the high school classes
set 27 as the maximum number of students in a classroom, even though that
number is frequently exceeded.
classes at BHHS and THS would be considered “overloaded” based on the
27 student maximum?
schools have several classes that are over the threshold of 27 students,
with many over the 30 student threshold too. (Band, Choir, Orchestra and
PE were not included in this investigation).
Math, Science, and Social Studies, are, on average, more overloaded than
non-core classes. The following chart was compiled from the data
showing the size of English classes at both high schools:
clearly has many more Freshman than it has room for in the English
classes, while BHHS is well under the threshold. The average Freshman English class size at BHHS sits at
25.6, and at THS it is 28.1. The Freshman Honors English classes
have a more significant difference between the schools. BHHS does
not have any Freshman Honors English classes over 27, with an average class
size of 23. In contrast, every Freshman Honors English
class at THS is over 27, and 50% have more than 30 students, for
an average of 30.3 students per class.
clearly has more Sophomores than it has room for in English classes, while THS
is just under the threshold. 70%
of the Sophomore English classes at BHHS are over 27, with an average of 27.9
students. The Sophomore Honors English classes average 23.8
students. BHHS clearly has more Sophomores than it has room for in
English classes. Although THS is not over the 27 threshold for Sophomore and
Junior English classes, THS is approaching the threshold in both Sophomore
Honors English(26.3) and Junior English(26.5).
50% of the Senior English classes at THS have more than 27 students and
25% have more than 30 with an average of 28.5 students.
approach with the math classes is as follows:
classes, both schools seem to be similar until you look at the more advanced
math classes. For instance, at both BHHS and THS the Accelerated Math
III is significantly overloaded, with both schools having an average class
size over 30. However, Pre-Calculus and Calculus classes at
THS (31.5) are significantly more overloaded than similar classes at BHHS(15.8).
Unlike English classes, the students not generally segregated by
grade. It is clear that the early Integrated Math classes have much lower
class sizes, while the more advanced classes are more likely to be
overloaded, and in some cases do not have enough desks in the classroom
for the students. For instance, some students in the THS Calculus
class to travel to BHHS since THS is so overloaded.
approach for Social Studies classes at both high schools is as follows:
Social Studies classes, the data seems to follow the English data for both BHHS
and THS. Meaning, the courses for each grade are overloaded if the
English classes for that grade are overloaded.
example, at BHHS 40% of the World History classes(typically taken by
Sophomores), are over the 27 students threshold. As stated earlier, the
Sophomore English classes at BHHS are overloaded. This shows there are more
Sophomore students at BHHS than class spots available in both English and
comparison, THS has 56% of Social Studies Classes typically taken by
Seniors over the 27 threshold. Therefore it can be concluded, like
English classes, there are more Seniors at THS than class spots available in
Social Study classes.
approach for Science classes at both high schools is follows:
most part, science classes are below the threshold, with many well below
the threshold of 27 students. The Accelerated Physical Science at THS had
80% of classes over 27 and an average of 27.1 students. 21% of Physical
Science classes at BHHS are over the 27 student threshold,
with an average of 24.4 students. Further, 11% of the Biology
classes at BHHS are over 27, with an average of 23.1 students.
Physical Science is typically a Freshman course, therefore, like Freshman
English classes, there are more Freshman at THS than spots available in
the Accelerated Physical Science classes.
data above it is clear there are more Freshman and Seniors at THS than spots
available in most of the core classes. Similarly, there are more
Sophomores than spots available at BHHS in the core classed.
at other classes typically taken by Freshman and Seniors there is a clear
overcrowding of these particular classes.
conclusion is highlighted when looking at the Health classes at
THS(which are typically taken by Freshman):
33% of Health classes over 27 students and 13% over 30 students with an
average of 27.1 students per class. In contrast, THS has 90%
of its Health classes over 27 students, and 50% over 30 students, with an
average of 31.2 students per class. Both schools have more students,
likely Freshman, than they have spots in Health.
class typically taken by Freshman at THS is the Tech Theater. THS has
4 Tech Theater Classes, all of which are over 27
students, with an average of 31.6 students per class.
has 50% of Spanish I classes over the 27 students with an average of 26
students per class. BHHS has 67% of Spanish II classes over the 27
student threshold with an average of 27.5 students per class.
variables that effect overcrowding are the number of teachers and the number of
students, both of which TSD controls.
of incoming residents students is fairly predictable, and TSD can control the
number of transfer students approved. It would seem logical for the
decision on transfer students to be made in the summer(after most “move
ins” have occurred), when enrollment is more predictable and TSD knows how
many resident students will be in the classes. Our understanding is that
this is not the current practice. Letting the transfer students in before
the spaces available have been determined, does not make sense, unless TSD
decides to add more classes/teachers. The other option is to allow less
Inter-district students to attend THS and BHHS.
contract allows for classes to be overloaded as long as the teachers are
compensated, which may not be a bad option at the HS level. However,
similar to elementary classes, when class sizes increase in a high school
class, this can create class management difficulties and increase the work
load of the teacher. Limited desk space may also pose a challenge if the
class sizes are large enough. It would appear that either a misappropriation
of classes/teachers has occurred or a miscalculation on the number of students
attending the high schools.
miscalculation is evident with the Freshman and Senior classes at TSD and
Sophomore class at BHHS.
For example THS has several typically Freshman classes that are overloaded, as well as several typically Senior classes overloaded. BHHS seems to have areas of overcrowding generally in the Sophomore classes. Most of the classes at each schools are not overcrowded, but the core classes are typically the classes that are over crowded. At BHHS, 84% of the over crowed classes are core classes. At THS, 70% of the over crowed classes are core classes. Most of the remaining classes over the threshold at THS are classes typically taken by Freshman students. TSD needs to either add more teachers/classes or lower the number of students if TSD wants to keep classes below the agreed upon threshold.
data from our records report can be found on our documents page,
new Blog entry we have been learning more and more about the ins and outs of
how TSD is running. There are many moving parts and each one is working
with, or has an effect on, something else. One of those moving parts
is class size. Last summer the community heard a lot of concerns, and
reduction of class sizes was negotiated at length. This entry
looks at elementary class size in TSD.
CLEARLY EFFECTS STUDENT SUCCESS
been many studies on how class size effects student learning. You can
find studies like STAR that show smaller class size results in an increase
in academic performance. The STAR study used 13-17
students or 22-26 students with a full-time teaching aide as a “small
class” and 22-26 students as a regular size class. SAGE
was a multi year study that followed students from K-12, and also found
smaller class size increases academic performance, decreased in high
school dropouts and resulted in greater retention of teachers. An
interest sidenote is that both studies showed the increases in academic
achievement were larger with minority and lower income
points from an article on the STAR study
by Jayne Boyd-Zaharias:
“The state of Tennessee took seriously the findings about
the benefit of small classes for low-income and minority children. In 1989, it
established Project Challenge, which provided funds to the sixteen poorest
counties (based on per-capita income) for reduced class sizes in kindergarten
through third grade. This project was not an experiment like STAR; it was a
policy application of the STAR findings, and it got excellent results. Charles
Achilles, a member of the consortium that created the original STAR design,
followed student achievement in these counties (1997)6 and found that “on average
, the Challenge systems that started the 1:15 treatment in 1989 ranked well
below the state average. By 1995 they ranked near or above the state
“The benefit of the SAGE program is especially strong for
African-American students. In 1997-98, African-American students in SAGE
classes increased their average total score by 52 points, compared with 33
points for African-American
students in control schools.These higher scores in SAGE schools narrowed the
achievement gap between white and
“Interviews of teachers and principals, classroom
observations, and other qualitative comparisons of teachers in SAGE and regular
schools suggest that SAGE teachers know each of their students better,spend
less time managing their classes, have more time for instruction, and are more
likely to individualize their instruction.”
read her full report here. The complete final SAGE study can
be found here.
class size impact is even more detrimental on lower income and/or
minority students. I found multiple articles on this
topic. While the general consensus is that students benefit
from smaller class sizes, with lower income and minority students the benefit
is increased significantly. On the other hand, larger class
sizes do not provide an ideal learning environment for students, and the
negative impact is increased with lower income and minority students.
AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE BUDGET
size management is an important component of the budgeting process.
For example, the simplest way to reduce class sizes is to provide more
teachers. With budgeting, the “impact” number is also an
important component. Having classes at, or over, impact comes at a
financial cost to TSD.
on grade level impact numbers at TSD are 22-27 for elementary
age. The following table is from the current TEA/TSD contract from
this fall. This is the list of impact numbers at each grade level. Once a
class exceeds this number it is considered at impact.
contract negotiated between TEA and TSD specifies an ideal maximum class sizes,
which varies with grades/classes. Once enrollment in a class is
over impact, TSD is required to (1) provide a paraprofessional in the
class for 2.75 hours of the day (it is unclear to me if this is a per student
or a total regardless of how many students over impact this would make a
significant difference in the cost), or (2)compensate the affected teacher with
an “overload payment”(elementary: $22 per day per student over
impact). The wording in the contract appears to allow the teacher to choose
which option he or she prefers.
contract Article 37.D.2:
“Impact Paraprofessional Time. The District and the Association are committed to work toward class sizes that do not exceed the class size levels shown in the chart below. If a level is exceeded, elementary teachers shall be entitled to two and three quarter (2.75) hours of “impact paraprofessional” time, assigned to the individual classes that exceed the class size level, unless other creative solutions are /developed at the site. Teachers may elect to receive overload payment or other flexible options in lieu of paraprofessional time“
above, classes being at or over impact results in a less than ideal
learning environment(unless a paraprofessional is also in the
class). As an example, test scores in the studies cited above increased
with the smaller class sizes overall and a larger increase for low income and
SO HOW IS TSD DOING ON ELEMENTARY CLASS SIZES?
chart below, the red numbers indicate the class is over impact.
22% of the classes at the elementary level are over impact and another 17% are at impact. Some elementary schools have more classes at and over impact than others. PGS, THE and LR have the highest numbers of classes at or over impact, where MTS, BL and EO have the fewest classes at or over impact. The chart below breaks down the percentage of classes at and over impact by school.
also be noted, that beginning next school year 2019-2020, TSD will be
required to have K-3 classes at a maximum of 17 or forfeit significant
funding. Currently, only 8 of the 85 K-3 classes in TSD(11%) meet
this criteria. Accordingly, assuming enrollment and class size
are the same in 2018-19 as 2019-20, 89% of TSD classes in the K-3
grades would be over the 17 student maximum. This topic came up at a
recent Board meeting and there was some discussion about how many school
districts are opting to forgo the funding as it is not financially prudent to
make sure all K-3 classes meet the 17 student maximum.
DIRECT FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES WITH HAVING CLASSES OVER IMPACT.
time of our records request the elementary schools had a total of 27
classes over impact and a total of 47 students over impact. So that
is 27 classes that either have a paraprofessional or provide extra compensation
to the teacher. Providing the extra compensation to teachers
pursuant to the contract is $22 per day, per student, which would result
in a total of $186,120 for the school year. If, instead, TSD paid 27
paraprofessionals the required 2.75 hours in each class the would
cost somewhere between $213,000-$294,000. Notably, these numbers do not
factor in the cost of benefits, which is probably at least another 20% or
In the scheme of a $85 million dollar budget, the financial cost is minimal, and probably requires little consideration. However, the greater cost is to the students in each of those over-crowded classrooms, especially low income and minority students. While the financial cost to pay a teacher impact fees would be less costly than assigning a paraprofessional in the classroom, from a student’s perspective, studies support the position that another professional in the classroom mitigates the negative impacts of overcrowded classrooms. I was unable to find a study that investigated whether paying a teacher more to have a larger class also mitigates the impact. With the current budget situation, TSD schools will likely be faced with some difficult decisions regarding which of these choices is best for the students in TSD.
the School Board Meeting on 3/14/19, in the Superintendent Report, it was mentioned that we
would likely need a new elementary school. Since that meeting, I
have spent some time looking at the data again trying to understand why it
would be proposed that we would need another elementary school in the
a great deal of resources in hiring an outside firm to analyze the area and
it’s potential future growth. From that firm’s projections, it could be
argued that building a new elementary is not the most financially prudent
plan. A new school would cost tens of millions of dollars and much of the
burden would fall on the Tumwater School District
residents. The enrollment projections through 2040
(3800-4000) are well within the capacities of our schools (4225) as
off on building a new school would likely result in continued use of portables,
in addition to some boundary changes. While it can be
argued that the use of portables is not ideal, that would need to be balanced
with the best use of the funds that would be required to build a new
peaks at around the year 2030 and then starts to decline. This could be
interpreted to mean that the use of portables use would be temporary while
TSD gets through the peak in enrollment, thus saving the taxpayers
millions of dollars and avoiding having to close, or at the very least under
utilize, schools in the future due to low enrollment.
excerpt below from my previous blog on the topic:
“At the peak of the graph (around 2030) the total
elementary enrollment should
be around 3775-4000. Looking at the
total capacity for TSD elementary schools(assuming no use of
portables) capacity in elementary schools is 3050. However, if portables
were to be used capacity
would be 4225. Notably, enrollment is
projected to peak around 2030, with a slight downward trend thereafter. “
“If TSD can operate within its capacity over the next
decade, which may involve another boundary adjustment, a good argument could
made that spending millions of dollars on a new elementary school is not
necessary. Another piece of the puzzle that was not discussed, was the
number of interdistrict students(students not living in the TSD boundaries) TSD
enrolls. From the numbers the committee were given, our elementary
schools have a total of 85 interdistrict students. That number doesn’t
seem to significantly change enrollment. However, TSD may be put into a
position of being very selective when deciding whether or not to accept
interdistrict kids at the elementary school level.”
As always we welcome comments and suggestions. Click here to email us.
I put this
update at the start since it seems we have at least somewhat of a resolution on
the missed days. See below for original post and previous updates.
Friday in the weekly District email the following was announced:
“Weather Make-Up Days Update: Thank you to all 2,540 who
participated in the on-line survey giving your input regarding the make-up time
for snow closure days. The results of the survey are as follows (#1 received
the most votes, #5 received the least votes):
– Decrease the number of ACT early release Fridays
– No half-day early release for the last day of school
– Lengthen the school day by a few minutes each day
– Shorten Spring Break
– Saturday School for graduation seniors only
Our waiver application is prepared and requires School Board
approval which will be considered at the March 14th Board meeting. After
evaluating the hours needed to make up the lost instructional time, we found
that we can recoup the time solely from ACT Fridays. In anticipation of the
waiver being approved, we are cancelling ACT early release for Friday March
15th and March 22nd while we wait for a decision from OSPI. If the waiver is
approved, we will then cancel the remaining ACT days that are scheduled for the
2018-19 school year.
As it stands, if the waiver is approved (and no more days are
cancelled due to weather, power outages, etc.), the last day of school will be
June 24th and will be a half-day early release for students.
The district is working with our employee groups to identify
appropriate ways to make up lost staff time. We will keep you updated when we
receive the waiver decision. “
anything changes on March 14th at the Board Meeting, I will update again.
School District got off to a later start than usual this year. Adjustments were
made to Christmas break, Presidents weekend break and the end of school year to
accommodate the lost instructional days originally scheduled in
September. Fast forward to February and we are hit with a giant snow
storm. The storm was more than this area typically is used to, prompting
the Governor to declare a State of Emergency. So, what does that mean to
Reykdahl , OSPI Superintendent, released a statement explaining that because of
the Governors Declaration, the school districts were allowed to apply for a
waiver for those missed days of instruction. https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WAOSPI/bulletins/22f2490 Mr. Reykdal stated, “State law allows the Office of
Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to waive missed school days, and
school districts will have the opportunity to apply to waive days that were
missed while the state of emergency was in effect. However, there is no legal
authority to waive the mandatory average of 1,027 hours of instruction for
students.” So what exactly does that mean? In looking up the
statute that makes this requirement, this is an average. The requirement
is actually 1080 hours for grades 9-12 and 1000 for grades 1-8, https://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=28A.150.220 . This brings up the question, what exactly is an
instructional hour? As defined by the Washington State Law:
hours” means those hours students are provided the opportunity to engage
in educational activity planned by and under the direction of school district
staff, as directed by the administration and board of directors of the
district, inclusive of intermissions for class changes, recess, and
teacher/parent-guardian conferences that are planned and scheduled by the
district for the purpose of discussing students’ educational needs or progress,
and exclusive of time actually spent for meals. – RCW 28A.150.205 https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=28A.150.205
meals are excluded, so a regular day of school is 6.5 hours long, taking lunch
out leaves 6 hours each day. So at 6 hours a day for 180 days is
1080. I don’t know how the ACT days (1.25 hours less for 4.75 total
hours), late starts (usually 2 hours), early release days and half days (not
including teacher conference days as those are counted as a full day) are going
to be accounted for, as that would be lost instructional hours and going far
below the already required 1080 hours for grades 9-12. Maybe they account
for that with the younger students (grades 1-8) getting more than the 1000
required hours (approximately 167, six hour days) to make the 1027 hours
average(approximately 171, six hour days). Is that the spirit of the law
or a loop hole? These are some of the questions we have posed to the TSD, and
will update as we get answers.
John Bash response (email 2/19/19):
all districts are required to maintain a record showing how they meet the
minimum basic education requirements required by law. Tabitha Whiting
(included here) works in our human resources division and is our point person
for maintaining this data. She can provide you a detailed summary and
spreadsheet showing how we meet the requirement. The requirements are
separate for Kindergarten vs. grades 1-12 so we calculate these separately and
use an averaging method for grades 1-12. Again, Tabitha can explain how
this is calculated and share our data with you.
Yes, we do plan to apply for a waiver for the days missed last week. However, we won’t be doing that right away as the possibility of more winter weather still exists and changing the school calendar requires negotiation with our unions which is underway. We also plan to gather input from parents will have a plan for this developed by the end of this week. In lieu of making up days at the end of the school year (which is our current contract language with the teachers union), options include such things as eliminating early release Fridays, expanding our current school start/stop times, reducing scheduled vacation days, and/or eliminating any remaining ½ day early releases (like the last day of school). These options are still being discussed and a plan must be agreed to between the district and our unions. It’s not one side or the other that unilaterally determines this. In addition to guaranteeing student instructional time, we also are working with our staff to plan and schedule work time for our 180 day employees that would need to be make up the hours not worked due to any approved waiver of school days. This often includes professional development and/or other professional work related to their assigned duties and responsibilities.” The following spreadsheet was provided by TSD. It was also explained, “ We report to the State Board of Education whether we meet the criteria or not as simple yes and no answers“, no data or proof is required to be sent.
This is a
little confusing at first glance and there are a few minor errors, but the end
average (1041 hours) is the TSD reported average if nothing were to change over
the course of the year. Apparently TSD is not required to update the
information as time is lost during the years. It was unclear if this form
is ever updated or they look at those lost hours specifically. The
response was, “We maintain the document internally for record keeping
purposes only after the fact”. It was explained that the snow days
that recently occurred are still not accounted for as they may be part of the
waiver and that decision has not been made at this point.
Average means some students are not meeting the required minimum
to the “average” as opposed to the differing requirements for grades
1-8 and 9-12. Since this is allowed under the law some of the grades are
well below the required minimum, while some are well above. If you take
TSDs numbers as reported, grades 9-12 are averaging about 998 hours of
instruction, grades 1-5 average 1063, and 6-8 average 1062 for an overall
average of 1041. This would meet the requirement under the law.
allowing 20 minutes for lunch for each grade. The bell schedules for the
schools allow 30 minutes for lunch. The definition of instructional
hours as stated above includes, intermission between classes, but
excludes any time for meals. TSD stated that they only count 20 minutes
for lunch because “The passing time for lunch is considered 5 minutes
before and after”.
enough, intermission for the HS is 4 minutes between classes and the
middle school 3 minutes between classes, but TSD allows them a
“passing time” of 5 minutes before and after lunch. That
brings up the question, does the passing time before lunch and after lunch
count as intermittent time between classes or is it considered the same
as the 5 minutes before school which is NOT allowed to be counted as
instructional time? (A debate for another time maybe). TSD considers
it intermittent time and counts the 5 minutes before lunch and the 5 minutes
after lunch as instructional time.
Washington State Board of Education FAQ site they discuss lunch time as
8. Is there a standard time that should be reduced from the
calculation of instructional hours for time spent for lunch?
no provision in basic education law setting guard rails around “time
actually spent for meals”in the definition of instructional hours. Other
law, however, may condition how districts make this determination.
28A.405.460, for example, provides that all certificated employees shall be
allowed reasonable lunch period of not less than thirty continuous minutes
during the regular school lunch periods and during which they shall have no
assigned duties, unless they work out other arrangements by mutual consent.
Children therefore cannot be under the supervision of certificated staff during
those thirty minutes.
Department of Labor & Industries requires by rule that an adult employee
(public or private) must be allowed at least a 30-minute meal period starting
no earlier than two hours and no later than five hours from the beginning of a
shift. (WAC 296-126-092.)
lunch time matter?
took the full 30 minute lunch for each grade, instructional hours for 1-5
would drop to 1033, grades 6-8 would drop to 1032 and grades 9-12 would drop to
945, the average instructional hours would drop to 1011 (well below the
requirement). As a reminder the law is 1000 instructional hours for grades
1-8 and 1080 for grades 9-12 or they can use an average of 1027. Clearly
our 9-12 grade students would fall well below the requirement if we did not
employ the average.
update later: I have sent a question
to the Washington State Board of Education to see if I can get clarification as
to what they mean exactly by intermittent time and lunch times, and will update
as I get more information.
What can you do?
the response from John Bash he discusses some interesting ideas for making up
“We also plan to gather input from parents will have
a plan for this developed by the end of this week. In lieu of making up
days at the end of the school year (which is our current contract language with
the teachers union), options include such things as eliminating early release
Fridays, expanding our current school start/stop times, reducing scheduled
vacation days, and/or eliminating any remaining ½ day early releases (like the
last day of school). These
options are still being discussed and a plan must be agreed to between the
district and our unions. It’s not one side or the other
that unilaterally determines this.”
stated that they will not take days away from Spring Break or have Saturday
school, so my guess is these are off the table so to speak since TEA has to
agree to any variances from the originally set schedule. It looks like
the only viable options we would have would be to get rid of ACT days, lengthen
the school day and/or add days at the end of the year. The state of
emergency would only include 4 of the 5 snow days up to this point. That
means we at least have the one day added on at the end of the year so
far. But we are short 24 hours of instructional hours than originally
planned, if TSDs accounting of the hours is correct. Fingers crossed that
we don’t have anymore this year.
you have any ideas, or suggestions about which option you would prefer for
making up the lost instructional hours, I would encourage you to contact both TSD
and TEA and let them know what you think.
Here is a
link to the survey TSD put out to fill out a survey for your choice for
options, one main problem was they didn’t leave the option to leave the days at
the end of the year. Click here to fill out the survey to vote for
your choice on how to make up the instructional time. Choices
being: days off of Spring Break, remove half day on last day of school,
Saturday school for seniors(not sure how that helps with the instructional
hours if only seniors do this), remove ACT days, and lengthen all school days.
Also of note, in the response from John Bash he stated, “In addition to
guaranteeing student instructional time, we also are working with our staff to
plan and schedule work time for our 180 day employees that would need to be
make up the hours not worked due to any approved waiver of school days.
This often includes professional development and/or other
professional work related to their assigned duties and
responsibilities.” I am not exactly certain who falls in
this category, but this could mean that employees (which may or may not include
teachers) would still be required to work the “180
from the 2/28 Board Meeting**
John Bash’s Superintendent report he stated that they were planning on applying
for a waiver, but they were not going to apply until the end of March. He
stated they were waiting because they were waiting until the “snow”
season was over. He also stated we had LOTS of responses from the survey
and they were going to look at that as they tried to work with TEA to make a
decision about how to make up the hours.
information from the Washington State Board of Education you can visit these
answer is to save money by better utilizing our resources.
taken part in the Boundary Committee Meetings for the last few months.
Jim Dugan from Parametrix was the “moderator” over the meetings
and the liaison between the committee and the District. He was definitely
the expert in the process and very helpful at keeping us on track and focussed
on the task at hand.
last few months the committee discussed the enrollment issues in each
of the 6 elementary schools in the district. Our task was to alleviate
some of the overcrowding in a few of the schools by moving neighborhoods into
different elementary school zones. We were told we would only be working
with the elementary schools and not worrying about the middle schools or
the high schools. There have been 2 public forums where people were
able to voice their concerns and share ideas, however, these forums were
not as very well attended compared to the number of people in the
district is comprised of 6 elementary schools. Three of the schools
(Littlerock, East Olympia and Peter G Schmidt) feed into Bush Middle School and
Tumwater High School. The remaining 3 schools (Michael T. Simmons,
Tumwater Hill and Black Lake) feed into Tumwater Middle School and Black Hills
High School. When the committee started this process, in each of
those groups there was one school that was overcrowded and one that was well
below capacity. Our goal was to move neighborhoods to get the schools
within their capacity not including portables.
schools that are over capacity also showed the most growth potential over
time. Therefore, if the boundaries are not adjusted, there would be 2
schools not able to house the students at that school while other schools in
the district have ample space to accommodate those students. Starting at
the elementary level should ease the adjustment in the long term for MS and HS
changes that are likely to occur later on.
What are the enrollment numbers?
table above it is clear that BLE and LRE have quite a bit of available space
where MTS is quite a bit over and EOE is over a little bit. We were also
given the projected enrollment numbers looking towards the future in the form
of a graph(see below). MTS is projected to increase at the greatest
rate. The rest of the schools were projected to increase at about the
same rate. During the meetings the committee was also told TSD has 2
properties that they have slotted for elementary schools. The committee
was advised not to worry too much about that because if TSD
decides to build a school, construction is at least 6 years away,
which would not solve the immediate need to even out the enrollment
We met on
March 4th to finalize our recommendations. We are pretty close
to sending our recommendations to the Superintendent. The next step is
for Parametrix to put together the finalized map with correct enrollment
numbers. Then the map will be provided to the Superintendent for his
approval. The Superintendent will then present the map (with any changes
TSD makes) to the Board for their approval. I believe there is also a
second reading where the map will be approved and finalized. The hope is
to get those changes implemented in the fall of 2020.
What does the future hold
peak of the graph (around 2030) the total elementary enrollment should be
around 3775-4000. Looking at the total capacity for TSD elementary
schools(assuming no use of portables) capacity in elementary schools is
3050. However, if portables were to be used capacity would be
4225. Notably, enrollment is projected to peak around 2030, with a slight
downward trend thereafter.
If TSD can
operate within its capacity over the next decade, which may involve another
boundary adjustment, a good argument could made that spending millions of
dollars on a new elementary school is not necessary. Another piece of the
puzzle that was not discussed, was the number of interdistrict
students(students not living in the TSD boundaries) TSD enrolls. From the
numbers the committee were given, our elementary schools have a total of
85 interdistrict students. That number doesn’t seem to significantly change
enrollment. However, TSD may be put into a position of being very
selective when deciding whether or not to accept interdistrict kids at the
elementary school level.
High School Projected Enrollment
The graph above is what our committee was given as a projection for high school enrollment. Even though THS and BHHS have virtually the same capacity, the enrollment at THS currently outpaces the BHHS enrollment by about 300 students. TSD has suggested that it may look at redrawing middle school and high school boundaries in the future. The high school projected enrollment looks to be pretty stable for THS and significantly increases for BHHS around the year 2026 and upticks through 2036.
Our building capacity for the High Schools without portables is 2200, and with portables is 2750. At present TSD enrolls about 2000 high school students. The total projected enrollment in the high schools in 2036 is approximately 2930. The projected enrollment is 180 students over the capacity at our high schools.
TSD currently has approximately 230 IDT students at the HS level. The number of out of district students at the high schools is generally more impactful as there are proportionately more IDT students enrolled at the high school level than at the elementary level. In the future, TSD may be faced with redrawing high school boundaries to alleviate some of the imbalance in lieu of spending the money to build a new HS too. There are other financial implications for IDT students. See our Out of District Students Impact on Budget for details on the impact IDT students have on the budget.
As always we welcome comments and suggestions. Click here to email us.