Question & Answer: NK Reduction in Force

QUESTION: I was wondering if you could share with us how you would have approached the reduction in force decision the board made in May? – Randy Borek

ANSWER: Three things (or four because the second item has two parts) that could really be rolled up into COMMUNICATION – 1) provide strategies and organizational objectives as an input to staffing decisions, 2.a) relate the proposal to the need (i.e., forecasted student numbers), 2.b) identify potential negative impacts to organizational objectives and measures and provide mitigating actions, and 3) provide a prioritized list of what would be added, if funding were larger than predicted.

Considering the benefit of hindsight, it is always easier to comment on what you would have done after you have seen the current outcome and response.  What is significant, is that the community was suprised and upset by the reductions particularly those to the music and ASL program.  The proposed staffing approach apparently was related to the resignation of a beloved, talented band teacher.  This is clearly an un-intended consequence of a conservative approach where the staffing level assumed no additional funding from the state over the prior budget.  The various legislative proposals at the time ranged between $1 and $2 million more was coming to North Kitsap than in the prior year.  Possibly, a more moderate approach such as assuming the lowest predication of additional state funding might have prevented this loss. Maybe, a lesson for next time…

The important question is what should be done for the next budget cycle? First, have strategies and defined organizational objectives to use as a basis.  The strategies are derived from community need, current challenges and advantages, and organizational competencies.  Given what I have heard from the community so far, these strategies should include a vibrant music program, smaller class size in elementary schools, and a broad range of classes/opportunities for secondary students.  Secondly, let our practitioners/experts (i.e., principals, program leaders, educators) define educational systems and processes that result in our desired outcomes.

Note: while our enrollment is declining the amount that the state provides per student will increase over the next five years.  The biennium state funding just passed last weekend (June 30th) just narrowly avoiding state shutdown represents an increase of 11.4% from the last budget.  So the really, important question for NK School District is where is NK going to apply these increases as they currently have been planning for no increase.  Board Meetings are scheduled for July 11 and August 22.  There is a special Budget meeting scheduled on August 8th.  Now, is the opportunity to use these resources to build a better district as we serve a smaller smaller student body.

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