May 11, 2008

"Olympia reverses financial skid"

At least one Olympia School District has worked its way back to fiscal stability.
The Olympia School District's improved financial health has paved the way for healthy decreases in the most expensive fees charged to middle school and high school students.

After dropping the extracurricular and activity fees by one-third for the 2007-08 school year, the district has lowered them another third for 2008-09.

"We're very happy to do this for our students," Superintendent Brad Hutchison said. "It's certainly unusual to see a cost going down these days."

Andrew Wise, the district's business and operations manager, agreed.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback to the lower fees," he said.

The extracurricular fee is charged only to participants. All students pay the activity fee, which gives them free admission to regular-season home athletic events.

In an effort to keep extracurriculars off the chopping block, the district assessed a new $250 extracurricular fee and an increased $150 activity fee for the 2005-06 school year. Next school year, the fees will be $85 and $50, respectively.
Sadly, that Olympia is found in Illinois. Out here in Washington, we're at least two budget cycles away from sustainability.

But it can be done.

Sidebar: At least we're not the only Washingtonians in a pinch.

1 comment:

Carla said...

Sorry--couldn't figure out where to post this, but thought it was some good conversation.

State auditor will review WASL contract
OK, we know that the WASL isn't popular with high schoolers, bilingual students, teachers and many parents.

Now several state legislators have asked State Auditor Brian Sonntag to audit the state's WASL contract, to see if taxpayers are getting their money's worth. Sonntag has agreed.

The state's five-year contract with Pearson Testing ends in late August, and legislators are concerned that a new contract is already expected to cost up to $25 million more than the $22 million already budgeted to pay for the test next year.

Here's a PDF of the letter and Sonntag's response. The legislators' letter was written by state Rep. John McCoy last month, and was co-signed by 15 other legislators:

"During this legislative session I and many other members have struggled with the rapidly increasing cost of the WASL contract. The current agency request would double the cost of 'doing WASL business as usual.' ... This request is in addition to the $50 million, two-year maintenance level funding for the WASL contract. Are the taxpayers of Washington getting what they are paying for?"

In his reply, Sonntag noted that his office will start its annual accountability audit of OSPI this month, and said as part of that he would look into the WASL contract:

Contracting issues at OSPI have not escaped the attention of this Office, particularly in light of their relationship to educational outcomes. Other parties have brought your very concerns to our attention. In fact, our previous audit work has identified additional issuse with local government contracting practices.

His office is also conducting performance audits of the administrative and overhead costs of the state's 10 largest school districts.

To get on the e-mail list to be notified when this or any other state auditor's reports are released, click here.

Posted by Jessica Blanchard at April 15, 2008 10:00 a.m.
Categories: Education funding, Elementary schools, High Schools, K-12