by MICHAEL DASHIELL
Unlike their state legislator counterparts, Sequim’s school leaders needed no special session to put the district’s budget in order.
On Monday night, Sequim school board directors approved a budget that sees about $24.5 million in spending for the 2011-2012 academic year.
The newest school budget includes $4.9 million in funding from local levy dollars.
Overall, the budget is slightly less than what the district spent in 2010-2011. Sequim schools will receive about $200,000 less from Washington state and about $500,000 less from federal sources, as local levy dollars continue to make up the difference.
About 62.6 percent of the school budget — or close to $15.3 million — pays for teachers, teaching supplies, instructional materials and textbooks, staff development, extra-curricular activities and more.
Building support — food services, transportation, maintenance, utilities, insurance and the like — make up about 17 percent ($4.2 million) of the district budget.
Bill Bentley, Sequim schools superintendent, said Monday that he’s concerned about a precedent the state set in 2010-2011 by withholding about $350,000 in state apportionment funds.
Furlough for teachers?
David Updike, Sequim Education Association president, asked Monday night that the board of directors consider furloughing teachers to make up for the 1.9 percent cut in pay they received from Washington state’s most recent cutbacks to school funding. Updike said the cut in pay is equivalent to 3.5 days of instruction.
“We would like some kind of furlough,” Updike said, but asked to have days cut during non-classroom time such as staff training days.
“We want instruction time disrupted as little as possible,” he said.
Board members had no comment at the meetingbut Updike later said the teachers’ group and the district are “making progress” toward a resolution.
Jean Rickerson, a Sequim parent and founder of sportsconcussions.org, asked the school board to reconsider hosting concussion testing at Sequim High School.
Her son, Drew, suffered a concussion during his sophomore season while playing football at the school.
She said that, after two years of being allowed to host concussion baseline testing for athletes at the high school, she was not allowed to have testing on campus this year.
Instead, Rickerson hosted tests at Peninsula College, where few Sequim players attended.
“I had all the pieces in place,” she said. “Not having the test on campus, frankly, the players aren’t going to show up. This is the only black-and-white diagnostic test we have.”
Rickerson uses a $5 exam through Axon Sports that tests a player’s cognitive functions before starting a season, providing a “baseline” for that individual. Subsequent tests following an injury can help diagnose concussions.
Rickerson said Sequim High’s football squad saw 11 concussions last season, three of which were season-ending injuries.
“I feel they are unprotected,” she said.
Bentley said that the school’s insurance representatives and legal counsel have advised against allowing concussion tests to take place. Such testing, he said, could open the school district up to liability issues and potential lawsuits.
School board member Virginia O’Neil urged the board to consider having a policy in place regarding concussion tests and board members agreed to look into such a policy at a later date.
According to Bentley, Sequim schools do not have a policy regarding concussion testing.
Test scores set for release
Results of statewide test scores for the High School Proficiency Exam (for students in grades 9-12) and Measurements of Student Progress (grades 3-8) will be released on Tuesday, Aug. 30, according to state schools superintendent Randy Dorn.
Federal, state and local school officials use the test scores to compare with previous years and determine each school and district’s “Adequate Yearly Progress” — a measurement of the federal No Child Left Behind Act that the U.S. Department of Education uses to determine how schools and school districts are performing academically on standardized tests.
Districts that receive certain Title I federal funds but are not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress may be subject to consequences, such as requiring schools to notify parents of not meeting the federal standard, replace staff, revamp curriculum, appoint outside experts and more. Sequim has two schools — Greywolf and Helen Haller elementary schools — that receive such funds.
Sequim school board directors noted that by 2014, the federal law requires that each student in schools across the country must meet Adequate Yearly Progress. Otherwise, each school and each district that fails to meet the standard is in line for consequences.
Vince Riccobene, Sequim School District’s director of assessment and instruction, said he anticipates both of Sequim’s elementary schools will not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress standard.
See Sequim’s scores for the 2009-2010 academic year — and, sometime after Aug. 31, for last year’s test scores — at reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us.