Budget News and Updates

May 8, 2019 
Understanding our budget and the impacts

Every employee at Tacoma Public Schools has an impact on students and student achievement. As an organization, we have worked hard to create systems and programs that improve outcomes for students. We have many achievements to be proud of, including raising graduation rates, increasing the number of industry certifications earned, expanding extracurricular activities and summer learning opportunities, and creating systems to support social and emotional growth.

Despite those successes, we are facing a budget shortfall that requires us to make the difficult decision of eliminating some positions. 



May 2, 2019 

TPS Planning for changes across the district 

Students are at the heart of our work and our decision making. Following the passage of the state budget Sunday night, we have been working to fully understand how the decisions made by the Legislature impact our budget, and ultimately, our students. 

While the financial analysis is not complete, we do know those budget reductions are necessary to balance the 2019-2020 budget. Unfortunately, we will need to eliminate some positions. We will not close programs or schools.



 
April 29, 2019

New state budget restores some of Tacoma’s levy funding

Just before midnight on Sunday, April 28, the Washington State Legislature passed a levy lid lift for school districts and the final 2019-2020 state operating budget.

Legislators negotiated changes until the very last moment, and we are working to determine how their decisions will impact our 2019-2020 Tacoma Public Schools budget.

Now, we are cautiously optimistic that those and other actions by the Legislature will address some of the revenue loss Tacoma Public Schools is facing


Learn what we know >>


April 11, 2019
Superintendent Carla Santorno

School Board directs Superintendent to plan for a reduction in force 

Tacoma Public Schools will face a loss of $30 million in funding next school year, which will require major position eliminations and spending reductions across the district.

Thursday, April 12, the Tacoma Public School board passed Resolution 2055 which authorizes Superintendent Santorno to develop a reduction in force plan. State law requires all school districts to notify their certificated staff by May 15 if they will no longer have a job with the district for the next school year.

Sunday, April 28 is the last scheduled day for the current legislative session. If the Legislature is unable to come to an agreement on the state budget by then, it could continue into a 30-day special session exceeding the state's May 15 notification requirement.

Tonight, Superintendent Santorno read a letter in response to this funding challenge and committed to saving as many jobs as possible. 

Read her letter >> 


February 15, 2019

Volunteers for spring Budget Advisory Committee to help TPS balance its budget


After nearly four months of budget adjustments, spending cuts, and 43 position eliminations, Tacoma Public Schools has erased a $23.4 million budget deficit for the current school year. Despite the widespread reductions this school year, Tacoma Public Schools still faces a projected $30 million loss of revenue for the 2019-2020 school year.

Tacoma Public Schools wants your help with the budget planning for the 2019-2020 scholastic's year. 

The School Board, at its Jan. 17 study session, took its first look at the deficit for next year and begin to discuss the process the district will use to plan for deeper budget reductions in the months ahead. They have asked for your help. The district is looking for 25-40 student, parent, and community members to volunteer approximately 10 hours to serve on our Budget Advisory Committee. Participants will advise and review district budget proposal by program and department leads prior to their submittal to the Superintendent and Cabinet. 

Commitment:
Participants will commit to two educational, evening sessions in March, and two evening focus group sessions in April to review and provide feedback on staff budget proposals for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 school years. 

To apply visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BAC2019




Updated April 3, 2019 

School Board goes on the road to engage the community in major budget cut strategies

Tacoma Public Schools will face a loss of $30 million in funding next school year, which will require major position eliminations and spending reductions across the district.

Already this school year, to balance the current school year budget, the district has:

  • Eliminated 43 administrative and central office support positions—approximately 15 percent of the administrative workforce; and
  • Made additional spending cuts of more than $16 million.

  • To help plan for the 2019-2020 school year budget, the School Board has already hosted two budget work study sessions in the community--Feb. 21 at Mount Tahoma High School and March 21 at Wilson High School. The board has scheduld a third budget work study session:

    • Thursday, April 18 at 6 p.m. at Lincoln High School Auditorium, 701 S. 37th St.

The Board may choose to add more budget work study session at additional locations.

At each of the work sessions, Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Medina will provide updated information on budget projections and impacts for the 2019-2020 school year. The School Board also has set aside time for public testimony to hear parent, community and staff recommendations for both areas of the budget to cut and district investments that add value.

Why will Tacoma Public Schools receive $30 million less next school year?
Over the last several months, the education funding landscape in Washington changed dramatically and unexpectedly.

The funding formula put in place by the legislature last June to satisfy the seven-year-long state Supreme Court case called McCleary created winners and losers. Some school districts—mostly those in wealthy communities—won big financial windfalls in state and local levy funding. Districts like Tacoma and Yakima and others with high-poverty urban neighborhoods actually lose funding in both the short-term and the long-term.

Tacoma voters approved a local tax levy in February 2018 allowing the district to collect roughly $70 million in 2019 to support schools. However, the state funding formula blocks the district from collecting that amount and caps the tax collection at approximately $38 million.

The district, community partners and many other districts across the state have asked the 2019 Legislature to revise the education funding formula. Several bills introduced in the current legislative session would alter the funding formula. However, without any guarantee any fix will pass the Legislature, Tacoma Public Schools must plan for major reductions.





January 23, 2019 

Tacoma Public Schools leadership visit Olympia to fight for equitable funding for Tacoma students and educators. 

Our students and staff have faced too many cuts already. Watch Supt. Carla Santorno and Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Medina testify regarding levy and special education funding to the Washington State Senate Ways & Means Committee on Monday, January 21, 2019.


January 2019

District erases $23.4 million budget deficit for the current 2018-2019 school year—looks ahead to more budget cuts in 2019-2020


After nearly four months of budget adjustments, spending cuts and position eliminations, Tacoma Public Schools has erased a $23.4 million budget deficit for the current school year.

That announcement came during the School Board’s Jan. 10 meeting as Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Medina gave the board members an overview of the final adjustments that finally balanced the budget.

Over the last several months, the education funding landscape in Washington changed dramatically and unexpectedly after the district had already adopted its budget for the school year. 

To rebalance the budget and eliminate the deficit, Superintendent Carla Santorno chose to begin reductions by identifying spending cuts and eliminating administrator and central office positions to keep the impacts of any reductions as far away from the classrooms as possible.

The bulk of the budget adjustments came through:
  • Reductions in spending on supplies and contracts
  • Eliminating planned curriculum purchases
  • Reallocating funding to cover a potential enrollment decrease
  • Deferring preventative maintenance and deferring planned vehicle replacements
  • Shifting some expenses into new, unexpected grants
  • Reducing budgeted professional development (training)
  • Limiting what department and schools can buy with purchasing cards
  • Reducing memberships in various professional organizations
The final budget balancing step announced Jan. 10 involved using roughly $4 million in reserve funds to avoid any additional cuts that could affect schools. District policy requires TPS to maintain a 5 percent reserve fund for emergencies and other unanticipated expenses. After use of the $4 million to balance the budget, the district’s reserve fund amounts to about 6 percent of the total general fund budget.

The new position eliminations announced Jan. 10 are:
  • Director, Integrated Systems Management
  • Director, Early Learning
  • Assistant Principal, Elementary
  • Maintenance and Operations Specialist
  • Library Program Support Representative (vacant)
With those newest position eliminations, that brings the total number of positions eliminated this school year to 42 central office and school support services positions, which amounts approximately 14 percent of the district’s administrative workforce, Medina said.

Through the Superintendent’s thorough, systematic and careful budget review, the district went through four rounds of position eliminations and spending cuts. Of those part-time and full-time positions, some people left the organization immediately while most will be phased out through the end of the school year. 

Santorno made it clear that all of the administrators and central office employees have provided valuable support to school principals, teachers and students in a wide range of programs. For positions where the district eliminated high-level employees, Santorno and her leadership team examined the structure of all departments to determine where leadership roles could be consolidated and duties shared among other employees.

What’s ahead?
Despite the widespread reductions this school year, Tacoma Public Schools still faces a significant projected deficit for the 2019-2020 school year.

The School Board, at its Jan. 17 study session, will take its first look at the deficit for next year and begin to discuss the process the district will use to plan for deeper budget reductions in the months ahead. The School Board meets for that study session at 6 p.m. at the Central Administration Building, fourth-floor auditorium.

Legislative Outlook
The School Board has adopted a 2019 Legislative Agenda that includes as its top priority a fix to the state’s new education funding formula that inequitably harms high poverty school districts like Tacoma. The Board calls on the legislature to increase the enrichment (local) levy rate to at least $2,500 per student to provide equal funding on a per-student basis among all school districts in the state; let local voters decide to invest in their neighborhood schools through levy dollars.

If the legislature made this change, the district would still face some budget reductions for the 2019-2020 school year but not nearly as dramatic, Medina said.

The legislature convenes Monday, Jan. 14.

The Foundation for Tacoma Students has scheduled a “Graduate Tacoma Advocacy Day” for Feb. 13 when it will call on community partners and parents to visit legislators in Olympia. For details and more information, contact April Shine at ashine@gmail.com.


December 17, 2018

Tacoma Public Schools inched closer this week to erasing an unanticipated $23.4 million budget deficit for the current 2018-2019 school year 


During the Dec. 13 meeting of the School Board, Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Medina announced the elimination of five more positions and other spending reductions that leave the district with about $4.5 million of the deficit remaining.
 
With a combination of at least six more position eliminations and other measures, Superintendent Carla Santorno and her leadership team expect to balance the current school year budget by Jan. 10, Medina told the board members. After that, the organization can shift focus to dealing with a projected deficit of approximately $30 million facing the district in the 2019-2020 school year.
 
In keeping with the Superintendent’s direction, the budget reductions made so far have focused on administrative positions and spending cuts that would have the least impact on schools and students. Reductions for 2019-2020 would include more central administrative support, school support services, and school-based services.
 
The latest positions eliminated include:
 
  • Public Information Coordinator 
  • Executive Assistant for K-12 Support 
  • Account Technician for Budget in Curriculum and Instruction 
  • Audio/Visual Copy Center Specialist (vacant) 
  • Boiler Technician 
With the newest position eliminations, that brings the total number of positions eliminated this school year to 37 central office and school support services positions. With six more positions slated for elimination in January, Superintendent Santorno will have reduced the district’s administrative workforce by 14.7 percent this school year, Medina told the board members.
 
Of the $19.4 million in budget adjustments made so far, only about $2.4 million has come through eliminating positions, while the other $17 million has come through a combination of spending cuts in operational costs, unanticipated revenue increases and other cost-saving measures.
 
The superintendent has reminded her leadership team that the reduction in positions, while necessary, aren’t just positions but are people—many of whom have dedicated years of service to our children, community and organization.
 
“All of these staff members played important roles in the success of our students and schools,” Santorno has said.
 
Why the reductions now? Changes to the way the State of Washington funds education that took effect this school year did not treat all school districts equally. The new formula allows some school districts in wealthier communities to collect up to $2,500 per student in local voter-approved levies while other districts like Tacoma, which serve high-poverty urban areas that traditionally require more support programs for students, can collect just $1,500 per student. 
 
Also on Dec. 13, the School Board adopted its 2019 Legislative Agenda, which included as its No. 1 priority working with the state legislature to rectify the inequities in the state funding formula. 
 
Specifically, the School Board noted, current enrichment levy rates are established at the lesser of $1.50 per $1,000 of school district property values, or $2,500 per student. This formula creates inequities among districts where lower property value districts (like Tacoma) are subject to the $1,500 per student rate and higher property value districts are allowed to collect up to $2,500 per student.
 
The solution proposed by the School Board—and many other school districts—calls on the Legislature to increase the enrichment (local) levy rate to at least $2,500 per student to provide equal funding on a per-student basis among all school districts. Let local voters decide to invest in their neighborhood schools through levy dollars.
 
Download the Budget PowerPoint

Watch the video of the School Board Meeting
The Budget Update starts at -1:18:20. 

Download the Tacoma Public Schools district’s 2019 Legislative Agenda.

Read The Seattle Times coverage of the budget reductions


November 23, 2018

Budget reduction update:13 more administrative, school support positions eliminated toward reducing 2018-2019 deficit


Tacoma Public Schools has identified 13 more administrative and school support positions for immediate or future elimination as part of an ongoing effort to reduce an estimated $23.4 million deficit for the current 2018-2019 school year. 

Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Medina outlined the new position eliminations during the Tacoma School Board of Directors public business meeting Nov. 19

Due to dramatic, statewide changes in the funding of education this fall, Tacoma Public Schools must make budget reductions this year and—when state funding decreases in 2019—will face millions more in additional budget reductions for the 2019-2020 school year.

With the newest position eliminations, that brings the total number of positions eliminated this school year to 32 central office and school support services, including 17 exempt administrator positions.

The new list of 13 eliminated positions includes:
  • Clinical Coordinator, Health Services
  • Director, Highly Capable
  • Director, Operational Data & Analytics
  • Technical Writer (vacant)
  • Innovative Technology Specialist (vacant)
  • Equipment Repair Technician (vacant)
  • Instructional Facilitator (2 positions, both vacant)
  • Administrative Secretary, Facility Use (vacant)
  • Administrative Secretary, Workers Compensation
  • Administrative Secretary, Head Start Program
  • Relief Custodian (2 positions, both vacant)
Not all positions are full time. Some positions will end immediately, while others will be phased out over the next few months. As with the first position eliminations announced in October, some work performed by employees in these now-eliminated positions will shift to others in the organization. As previously noted, some work will not get done and some work may take longer to accomplish. All of these staff members played important roles in the success of our students and schools.

Personnel reductions made so far will save the district more than $2.2 million this school year, while reductions in non-personnel costs will save another $16 million this school year.

Combined with previously announced reductions in both personnel and non-personnel costs, the district still must cut approximately at least another $5.2 million this school year.

Superintendent Santorno and district leadership team continue to review additional positions and other spending reductions to balance the current school year budget.

Read The News Tribune’s coverage of the budget reductions


October 31, 2018

Budget reduction update: $16 million, 19 positions eliminated so far toward reducing 2018-2019 deficit goal


Tacoma Public Schools has identified 14 exempt administrative positions for immediate or future elimination, and five other positions, as the first step in reducing an estimated $23.4 million deficit for the current 2018-2019 school year.

During a report to the School Board of Directors Oct. 18, Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Medina outlined other budget reductions that, when combined with the administrative position eliminations, will save the district roughly $16 million this school year. Those reductions include:

  • Elimination of five vacant positions, including four professional-technical positions and one office professional position.
  • Elimination of enrollment contingency that hedged against unexpected enrollment drop
  • Addition of new funding due to increased enrollment over budgeted projections
  • Elimination of anticipated election costs

At this point, the district still must reduce spending by another $7.4 million this school year. The next phase of reductions will look at additional eliminations in administrative exempt and central office support services positions and other spending.

“Our goal through this difficult process is to keep these reductions as far from the classroom as possible,” said Superintendent Carla Santorno.

Because we just notified the people in these positions within the last week, we will be working with many of them on work transition plans. The fact is, in some cases, some work will shift to others, some work will not get done and some work may take longer to accomplish. All of our team members have been necessary contributors to the success of our district and provide critical support for our schools. Losing this many people will have impacts on services, Santorno said.

The eliminated positions, in alphabetical order, so far:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator
  • Assistant Director, ELL
  • Assistant Director, Student Services (two positions: one in early learning, one in elementary)
  • Assistant Superintendent, Student Services
  • Coordinator, Community Partnerships
  • Coordinator, Comprehensive Guidance
  • Deputy General Counsel
  • Director, Information Security
  • Executive Director, Sound Partnership
  • IT Customer Service Specialist
  • Manager, Payroll
  • Professional Development Records Specialist
  • Project Manager PMO
  • Public Information Assistant
  • Purchasing Specialist
  • SharePoint Developer
  • Student Teacher & University Liaison
  • Sustainability Manager

In cooperation with the Tacoma Education Association (TEA), five of the administrators whose jobs were eliminated have the certifications or experience necessary to qualify for currently vacant certificated positions across the district (three as teachers, one as counselor, one as occupational therapist). Another administrator will shift to an office professional role. Those staff members will shift into those vacancies immediately.

“We are appreciative of the willingness of TEA to partner in support of these transfers from exempt to certificated or office professional roles,” said Lisa Nolan, assistant superintendent for Human Resources.

During the school board meeting, the district’s legislative liaison, Charlie Brown, presented the first draft of a 2019 legislative agenda that focused primarily on working with legislators to improve the state’s funding formula for education.

The new formula put in place this school year allows some school districts in wealthier communities to collect up to $2,500 per student in local voter-approved levies while other districts like Tacoma, which serve high-poverty urban areas, can collect $1,500 per student.

That’s inequitable, board members agreed.

“We have a lot of community partners who are willing to help us with this issue,” Brown told the board members. “Our goal is not to rehash what happened in the past but fix what’s before us.”

Updates on additional position eliminations and spending reductions will come as those decisions are made.