'All Revenues will be Dedicated to the Classrooms'by Erin Albanese
On May 2, voters in the Kent ISD region will be asked to approve a 0.9 mill tax for local school districts, generating $211 per student to maintain programs, improve services and meet other needs. School News Network is offering information on what the millage means for each of the 20 districts in the Kent ISD. Today we focus on Godfrey-Lee Public Schools. SNN spoke with Superintendent David Britten.
How much revenue would your district gain from the millage in the first year?
What would you spend that increased revenue on, and how would this help your students?
All revenues will be dedicated to the classrooms for teaching and learning with an emphasis on supporting kindergarten through 12th-grade academic achievement.
"It's all focused on the classroom, although we have non-classroom needs," Britten said.
A big priority: attracting and retaining highly effective teachers. Godfrey-Lee has the lowest starting salary for teachers in the Kent ISD, Britten said. "We are struggling to provide competitive salaries and benefits for teachers to compete with surrounding districts."
The enhancement millage also may fund curriculum and instruction materials; English language-learning such as dual immersion and other programs; science, technology, engineering and math programs; and initiatives resulting from the district's human-centered design process, which Godfrey-Lee is completing thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Steelcase Foundation.
As part of that process, staff, parents, students and community members are challenged to re-imagine schools.
"We want to have a funding base that will give us flexibility as ideas come out," Britten said.
If the millage were to fail, what changes or cuts would you have to make next school year?
"We are already looking at a budget deficit again. Right now the problem is we have high numbers of students in classrooms, and we wouldn't be able to deal with that. We haven't bought or replaced textbooks in eight years, so we'd continue to struggle to do that."
There's also demand to make busing available to more students who live away from busy streets, but the district can't afford to extend it. "A lot of kids who should probably be on buses can't be," he said.
Britten said the district's fund balance, or savings, is projected to be at about 9.6 percent by the end of the school year. The projected deficit for 2017-2018, though there are a number of unknowns, is $900,000. The district plans to take steps to reduce it this month to below $500,000.
What objections have you heard, if any, from your community, and what is your response?
"I haven't heard or seen anything negative in our district... I've heard feedback (countywide) being mostly they want to see (the enhancement) go into academic improvement."
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