VISD continues work on budget, faces potential reduction in force

As of Thursday, June 9, the school board will do their second reading and final adoption of the following school year’s budget.

At an April 28 board meeting, the Vashon Island School District (VISD) board continued to work on the budget for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, while also approving salary increases for certified administrative staff.

However, at the same meeting, VISD Human Resources Director Amy Sassara also presented Resolution 800 to the board —the first reading of a document that concerns potential reductions in force related to changes in finance or changes in a program.

VISD is required to have the document in place should any potential situation arise which makes it necessary for employees to be laid off.

“At this point, we are at that crunch point in the budget where we are matching programs and expenses and putting that mesh together,” said Sassara.

She added that while currently there are no final answers on if there will be a reduction in force and if so, which staff categories might face layoffs, there is a legal obligation to present any reduction in force notice to certified staff prior to Sunday, May 15.

In a phone call following Thursday’s meeting to Matt Sullivan, VISD’s executive director of business and operations, said that the district currently estimates that next year’s enrollment in the district will be 1,425 — a decrease from the current enrollment of 1,456. The estimate was intentionally conservative, he said, but reflected an ongoing trend, over the past four to five years, of housing prices making Vashon less affordable for families of young students.

VISD’s budget is tied to enrollment numbers. According to data from the state, VISD received approximately $11,500 in state funding for each full-time student in the 2021-2022 school year (see bit.ly/3MMhAmO).

At the meeting, Sullivan also presented the school board with a proposed student fee schedule for the 2022-2023 school year (see bit.ly/3F69p2g), which includes general fund fees for activities such as art, sports and CTE. The schedule includes ASB fees, theatre rental fees and food services fees.

The document includes an overview of the last five years, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year and ending with the 2022-2023 school year.

Sullivan also noted that VISD is waiting to see if the Washington state legislature will approve universal meals for public school districts. If not, VISD will not offer free lunches to all students, as it did during the 2021-2022 school year.

Instead, lunches will cost $3.75 at Chautauqua Elementary School, and $4 at McMurray Middle School and Vashon Island High School, according to the proposed fee schedule. Free and reduced lunch programs will be available to students that qualify.

Sullivan added that the board meeting on Thursday, May 12 will include a large budget presentation to board members that would include revenue review, expense projections, and other considerations.

By Thursday, May 26, said Sullivan, the board would get the VISD budget document in draft form for a first reading.

As of Thursday, June 9, the school board will do their second reading and final adoption of the following school year’s budget, as VISD’s educational service district must have the complete budget in by Sunday, July 10.

The VISD board also approved salary increases for certificated administrators, which includes all of the principals and assistant principals on staff. This also includes the director of student services and the director of teaching and learning.

According to the first read of the proposed contract provided at the Thursday, March 24 meeting, the contract would have lasted for a duration of three years and the certificated administrators would have received a 5% salary increase in the 2022-2023 school year, a 2% salary increase in the 2023-2024 school year and another 2% salary increase in the 2024-2025 school year.

However, at the April 28 meeting, Superintendent Slade McSheehy said that his conversations with the certificated administrators had led him to make a change — recommending to the board that the certificated staff’s contract be instead a one-year-only contract, and that compensation should be increased from 5% to 5.5% to keep with the Implicit Price Deflator (IPD).

In total, the raises for certificated administrators will cost the district $78,130 in the 20222-2023 school year.

An addendum to McSheehy’s contract was also up for a vote at the board meeting.

The addendum extends his employment with VISD to June 30, 2025, as well as raises his salary by 5% — pushing up his base salary from $180,250 to $189,263.

McSheehy also receives a package of benefits which includes a percentage of his salary paid to him to invest in a retirement fund. McSheehy’s contract addendum also adds Juneteenth to 12 other paid holidays he receives throughout the year.

The school board voted to approve the addendum to McSheehy’s contract.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members employed at VISD also received a new bargaining agreement, which had its first and second reading at the April 28 meeting. SEIU represents staff members in positions including food service, custodians, grounds and maintenance.

The new SEIU agreement will last a duration of three years and result in an approximate $80,000 compensation change, said VISD Human Resource Director Amy Sassara. The agreement also adds Juneteenth as a paid holiday and changes the probationary period for new employees from 90 days to 180 days, among other changes. The board approved the agreement.

In a phone call following the meeting, Sassara said that the district was also in the process of finalizing new bargaining agreements with its teacher’s union, Vashon Education Association (VEA), and its union representing paraeducators specialists and office staff, Vashon Education Support Personnel (VESP)

Board members will take part in a Thursday, May 5 work session, which McSheehy recommended the board utilize as a time for budget review.