April 2019 Principal Coffee: Brace for Impact

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These upcoming budget cuts are the REAL DEAL, Cedar Park.  It’s only fitting that the dismal budget reality would dominate this month’s Principal Coffee.  

Read on to hear the backstory, digest the possible changes at Cedar Park, and learn ways that you-- Beaverton taxpayer and parent-- can advocate for change.

Have you watched Superintendent Grotting’s March Budget Message? No?  Here are the cliff notes.

Budget Based on Governor’s Projection = $35 Million Shortfall

Public schools are funded by a combination of federal, state, and local taxes. Every $100 million in the state’s school fund translates to approx. $3.5 million for Beaverton School District.

BSD will base their 2019-20 budget off Gov. Kate Brown’s projected $8.97 billion allocation for K-12 education. You can read what the critics are saying regarding that number HERE. Even though this is an 8.1% increase overall, it will not fund schools at the current service level.

This projected state number equals a $35 million deficit for BSD going into 2019-20.  This is BEFORE the certified staff contract negotiations, meaning that doesn’t include any rollup cost or cost of living increase for our certified staff.

The Perfect Storm: Causes of Budget Deficit

Half of the budget deficit can be attributed to PERS.  One third of every state educational dollar goes to supporting the increase in PERS.  Also, only 40% of PERS recipients are school employees. The rest are city, county, and state government workers.

PERS reform has already been taken through the Oregon Supreme court, where PERS benefits were ruled a contract between the state and its employees and cannot be changed retroactively. These increases will be felt for the next THREE biennium budgets (six years). Yes, you read that right.  SIX YEARS.

Another significant portion of the deficient is attributed to Oregon’s Equal Pay Act, which went into effect on Jan 1. Salaries in BSD are being adjusted accordingly.

Also, rising house prices and cost of living increases are pushing our students of poverty further and further out of Beaverton, equalling less money from the state.  You can read about this year’s miscalculation and how we are no longer a “growth district” HERE.

Finally, the District is not seeing the level of predicted retirements (i.e. high end of salary schedule) from teachers and staff.  

Cuts Across the District

Nothing has been made public yet, but everything is on the table, including:

  • Increased class size in all schools

  • Eliminating PYP, MYP & STEAM programs

  • Reducing multilingual teaching and support staff

  • Reducing custodial staff

  • Reducing campus supervisors and crossing guard positions

  • Shortening the school year

  • Eliminating conferences (or other non-student work days)

What BSD can’t cut?

  • Transportation

  • Special Education (maintenance and effort as required by federal law)

  • Utilities & gasoline

  • Contracted expenses for employees (Did we mention that teachers are in contract negotiations this spring?  The plot thickens.)

Levies and Bonds = Protected Funds

Many in our community are confused why BSD is continuing to build/improve facilities and purchase updated technology (chromebooks) for our students.  Why can’t we divert some of that money to this shortfall?

Funny thing about taxpayer initiatives.  They have to be used for exactly what they were advertised/written for.  School districts don’t get to just change their mind after a bond/levy passes.  Here’s a look at the most recent bond and levy that will continue to fund some awesome things for the District.

Again, bonds and levies are ballot-initiatives, meaning they are for a specific purpose and cannot be diverted once passed.

No Quick Fix

The timing of all this is not ideal.  BSD must have their budget finalized and ready by June 30th, when the Oregon legislative session doesn’t start until the first of June.  Therefore, any tax package or reform created during that summer session wouldn’t be presented to voters until November, so IF the legislature agrees on changes, and IF those reforms are approved by voters, the relief wouldn’t be felt until spring 2020.


Plot Twist

And to make this year even MORE dramatic, contract negotiations are happening this spring between our teachers union and the District.  No decision on teacher movement will be made until these contracts are finalized. And remember, this current deficit number doesn’t include any rollup cost or cost of living increase for our certified staff.

The new contract must be approved by the BSD School Board and then is voted on by members, which should take place this June.

Brace Yourself, Cedar Park

There’s no getting around that this is gonna hurt at Cedar Park.  Parents and students should prepare themselves for:

  • Higher class sizes

  • Possible loss of MYP program

  • Possible loss of one vice principal (and hiring of student supervisor). NOTE: In secondary ed, the number of administrators are based on the total number of students and CPMS’ enrollment is predicted to dip slightly next year.  Fingers crossed we can get some higher numbers to retain one of our administrators.

  • Loss of counselor

  • Loss of six or more classroom teachers

  • Dramatically reduced operating budget for Dr. Anderson

  • Loss of parent teacher conferences

  • Shortened school year

The Bright Side

Even with this impending armageddon, BSD still has some pros that will help it retains its position as a top Oregon school district, including:

  • Competitive salary schedule to attract top teachers

  • Early childhood education to manage the learning gap before it’s too large

  • The recent local option levy that supports acceptable class sizes

  • Recent bond that funds BSD’s infrastructure (meaning very little of our budget is used on improving current buildings and can be used for sheer education)

  • Option programs that give students and families a choice in middle and high schools

  • Career and tech programs

  • Dual credit, AP, & IB in our high schools

Dr. Anderson also shared some of the things that will NOT be changing at Cedar Park:

  • Collaboration and global citizenship weaved into fabric of curriculum

  • Veteran teachers who have already weathered the ups and downs of Oregon educational funding

  • Commitment to our students and their future

What’s a Parent to Do?

While tempting to ignore or shrug off this situation, it is more important than ever for parents to sit up, educate themselves, prepare their student, and, if willing, advocate for change at the state level.

Dr. Anderson will be addressing some of these items in May’s Cedar Reader, but here is a list of steps compiled by the PTC that you– parent, citizen, taxpayer– can do to support Cedar Park & stable educational funding in Oregon:

  • Call/Email to Advocate for our MYP Program: Ginny Hansmann, Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, (ginny_hansmann@beaverton.k12.or.us)  and Jared Cordon, Administrator, (jared_cordon@beaverton.k12.or.us). Both can be reached at (503)356-4431. Let them know what the MYP program means to your families and your children.

  • Attend: There are two more opportunities left to speak up about the proposed budget.  Attend a school board budget meeting and speak up:

    • Monday, May 13th at 6:30pm

    • Tuesday, May 28th at 6:30pm

  • Email Your Legislator: Send an email to your legislators and urge them to adequately fund public education through House Bill 3427 from the Joint Committee for Student Success.

  • Educate Yourself:  Read the info being sent from the District, from Cedar Park, and from the PTC in order to better understand the actual complexities of this situation. Now is NOT the time to stick your head in the sand.

Other Juicy Items That Thankfully Aren’t About the Deficit:

  • Sixth grade field trip to OMSI (funded by the PTC) is in the works!

  • Eighth grade trip to Oregon State is scheduled for early June.  We will need volunteers so be on the lookout!

  • Middle school boundary process will begin this spring and Dr. A encourages parents to pay attention earlier rather than later.  BSD is restructuring how they receive data to make these decisions. The facility at Timberland is set to open as a middle school in fall 2021. Now THIS should be interesting…

  • Dr. A is taking her show on the road and will be visiting all seven feeder elementaries during their principal chats

  • The cell phone policy continues to be a “game changer.”  Teachers and staff are loving the interactions between students at lunch.

Join us for the next and final Principal Coffee on June 6 at 8:30am.  This one will focus on all of our incoming families and will include the sixth grade counselor and several sixth grade teachers.