Helping you stay informed about our district.
Aberdeen School District No. 5 -- May 15, 2020
A.J. West Strong -- We Can Do Hard Things
2020-2021 Budget is balanced -- but reduced
This has been a very difficult few weeks in the Aberdeen School District. As you know, we’ve been planning for a reduced education program in order to balance the budget. The most significant reductions are being felt in areas not considered Basic Education by the state – our Skills Center, music, and P.E. programs, along with the loss of a counselor at the high school.
The community’s concerns are being heard. As superintendent, I also accept the fiduciary responsibility to maintain solvency during difficult times. Many, many hours have been spent with the School Board, attending sessions hosted by state and regional budget experts, as well as sharing information with our Budget Advisory Committee, before implementing the reduced education plan for 2020-2021.
There have been questions as to whether the plan is too conservative. Let’s hope so. We cannot afford for it to be otherwise. If we have been too conservative, we can carefully and strategically bring our valuable programs back.
As you know, Aberdeen has been treading water financially for a long time. The state’s new funding model, “the McCleary Fix,” was supposed to help. Instead, there’s just a different set of funding inequities that hit property-poor districts like us the hardest. As your superintendent, I took a lead role in appealing to the Legislature. Dozens of districts from around the state joined us. Our Budget Advisory Committee and School Board members attended hearings, wrote letters and made phone calls. We were not successful.
This year, our enrollment unexpectedly declined. And now, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating everything. Economists are forecasting a severe recession. Governor Jay Inslee has ordered state agencies to prepare for budget cuts of 15 percent.
Districts that have steady enrollment and healthy reserves can wait longer to make adjustments. We can’t. For example, in December we needed to take out an interest-bearing loan just to pay our bills until our state apportionment arrived in January.
So what can we assume?
We can assume we will still receive funding for Basic Education because it is constitutionally protected. We must assume that other sources of funding will be impacted by the national crisis.
Because of our low fund balance and declining enrollment, we do not have the luxury of taking any risks on funding that is awarded at the Legislature’s discretion, such as Local Effort Assistance (LEA), which boosts our enrichment levy. In fact, OSPI informed districts today, May 15, that there is an $11 million shortfall in LEA funding for this year. They plan to cover the shortfall by delaying payment until July so it can be charged to next year's revenue cycle. This means LEA for 2020-2021 is already reduced.
That said, our budget assumptions are constantly being monitored and adjusted when new information provides evidence to adjust. For now, we needed to meet the May 15 deadline to offer teachers their contracts.
This is the second year in a row that we have had to make significant reductions. Last year, we reduced by $4.5 million. For 2020-2021, we need to find more than $6 million.
Despite all of this, we will continue to have the richest music program in the region and are exploring outside funding. Just as important as music is our Skills Center. We are exploring just as many options for bringing back the medical careers and culinary program. It is a strong priority to restore a counseling position at the high school.
The amount of misinformation circulating in the community is frustrating. For example, yesterday a state official told one of our parents that “there is no reason for school districts to assume a reduction next year in state funding.” I strongly disagree, as do many leading economists, who are predicting the state will exhaust its $3 billion “rainy-day” fund and experience more than $4 billion in revenue shortfalls.
I don’t know of any superintendent who would risk the wrath of their community and make such deep cuts to valued programs unless they had done the research and developed the data that it is absolutely necessary. Please take a few moments to visit the district web site where there is more information in the form of FAQs to answer many of your questions.
As I stated at the beginning, this week has been very difficult for everyone. There is no way to sugar coat this state of affairs. The reductions to certificated staff and administration total $4.2 million. We next face reductions to our classified staff.
We need to stay the course if we are to remain solvent. I hear incredible stories about other tough times that our community has weathered. We have a resourceful and innovative staff. I am confident that on the other side of this great challenge, the Aberdeen School District will be stronger than ever.
More info from the Superintendent
Will School Reopen in the Fall?
Our distance learning model continues to evolve. We are using our time this spring to build capacity for distance learning. I am hopeful we can have more engagement at the schools so that we can increase our enrollment projection. We must prepare for the likelihood that it will not be safe to return to the traditional model this fall. You can expect the Aberdeen School District to have a quality online presence, and this includes a robust curriculum with effective and consistent student engagement.
By fall, we will have one platform for distance learning. The platform we have selected is called Canvas. Our staff is being trained this spring so that all of our teachers can use it consistently in the fall.
Parents will be offered opportunity to learn about this, as well.
There’s news to share this week on plans for the graduating the Class of 2020.
Senior Yard Signs: More than $3,000 has been raised and signs will be delivered to students on May 22 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Senior Signing: The ceremony will be a virtual video at 6 p.m. Monday, June 1. So far, 45 students have submitted photos for the traditional slide show. Submit photos to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 20.
Senior Awards Night: Planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 10. The Avidex company has been retained to record the event and it will stream on YouTube. A link will be posted on the AHS web page.
Recognition Regalia: After awards are announced, seniors can pick up their regalia – honor cords, medals -- starting at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 11, under the covered walkway at AHS.
Senior Move-Up: A virtual format planned for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 11. There will be a slide show to watch on YouTube and the entire senior class will be invited to watch the video together via Zoom while Senior Annika Eisele shares her screen. Three pictures/three seconds per senior, max. Photos must be submitted by May 25. A link will be posted on the web site.
Baccalaureate: This will be live streamed from harborcitychurch.org at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 7. Musicians (singers) and three seniors with a sense of humor are invited to contact Denise at 360-500-9928 to help with the program.
Graduation Vehicles: A short survey will be sent to seniors on Monday, May 18, to ensure vehicle availability for every graduate. During the parade, the graduation speeches will be airing on local radio.
Graduation Parade: Will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, June 12, from the parking lot at the Shoppes at Riverside. The parade will cross the Chehalis River Bridge onto G Street, commence past AHS, turn left onto Fourth Street and then right onto H Street. Additional details on the route through the city will be announced closer to graduation.
The possibility of students walking onto Stewart Field to receive diplomas awaits a decision on whether our county or city is in Phase 1 or Phase 2.
Spring Sports Awards: Information to come.
Senior Boards are still required for graduation. Presentations will take place the week of June 1-5. Students should be communicating with their advisors on this important requirement.
Stay Informed: Information is being shared with students via their district email account on a regular basis. A letter for parents will go out shortly now that dates and times are getting nailed down.
Aberdeen School District Board of Directors
Read the statement from the School Board regarding the factors that have contributed to the need for budget reductions.
Access the full report to the School Board and Budget Advisory Committee regarding the need for budget reductions in 2020-2021.
KINDERGARTEN & PRESCHOOL REGISTRATION
Early registration for Kindergarten and preschool continues. It is critical to the district's budget and planning process. If you have a student who will attend Aberdeen schools in the fall, please take a few moments to fill out the form. Official documents will be collected in August.
Visit the Hopkins Early Childhood Learning Center to access registration information for preschool. The district relies on grants for this program and needs solid information on how many students to expect.
The next edition of the ASD5 e-Newsletter is scheduled to appear Thursday, May 21.
The district has posted additional information and resources regarding Food Service during the closure on the web site.
Can't make it to the lunch site? Find your student's grade level under the Learning Resources section of the ASD5 website where you can download learning materials and access online resources.
Visit the Coronavirus page on the ASD5 website for helpful links and updates from local officials regarding the outbreak of this new virus and how it's impacting the Harbor and our schools.
Staying in touch with Leadership
- Superintendent Alicia Henderson, email@example.com
- Business Office, Elyssa Louderback, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Human Resources, David Glasier, email@example.com
- Special Education, Rick Bates, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Career & Technical Education, Lynn Green, email@example.com
- Teaching, Learning & Technology, Traci Sandstrom, firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't forget to check the Instructional Resources page often for updates that may come about from OSPI, especially for high school students.
****************************The Aberdeen School District does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination: David Glasier, Title IX Coordinator and Civil rights Compliance Coordinator, 216 North G St., Aberdeen, WA 98520; (360) 538-2222; email@example.com; Dr. Richard Bates, Section 504/ADA Coordinator, 216 North G St., Aberdeen, WA 98520; (360) 538-2017; firstname.lastname@example.org.