Vancouver Sch. Dist.
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News Releases
VPS projects $14.3 million budget shortfall even with passage of levies - 02/13/19

Vancouver Public Schools is anticipating a decline in student enrollment for the 2019-20 school year that will further compound a projected budget shortfall. The district’s enrollment analysis is consistent with projections independently gathered periodically by local demographer Eric Hovee of E.D. Hovee and Company. A decrease of 458 full-time equivalent students is expected to add another $2.3 million to a projected budget deficit of $12 million.  

Initially, the district’s projected shortfall was nearly $10.7 million for 2019-20 due to a capped local levy rate and fewer state levy equalization dollars, which are part of the state’s new funding formula for K-12 education.

Last month, VPS announced a projected budget deficit of nearly $12 million after contract settlements with Vancouver Education Association and Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals.

With the anticipated decline in student enrollment, the new projected budget deficit is $14.3 million dollars for 2019-20. Last night’s passage of the education/operations and technology levies will not mitigate this shortfall.

The district is responding to the deficit with initial budget cuts of $3.9 million in central administrative services. Another $3.8 million will come from the reserve fund balance.

Further reductions will be made in school-based services and staffing to cover the remaining $6.6 million shortfall. A district team that includes leaders from bargaining groups will review contractual obligations. Following that review, a proposal for school-based reductions will be brought to the board of directors at its Feb. 26 school board meeting.

“These are incredibly difficult choices, and I am deeply frustrated that the legislature’s response to the McCleary lawsuit has worsened our fiscal position. Our employees do amazing work with our students and families every day,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “However, the district is obligated by law to maintain a balanced budget. We must be fiscally responsible with the money that has been allocated to us. We are not alone in this dilemma. School districts across the state are facing the same tough decisions.”

Overall, the projected $14.3 million budget shortfall for 2019-20 will be addressed in the following manner:

  • Approximately $3.8 million will be generated from the 2019-20 fund balance. Because this is one-time money, that part of the shortfall must be addressed again in the 2020-21 budget.  

  • An estimated $3.9 million will come from cost savings in central administrative services staffing and program reductions.

  • Approximately $6.6 million will be generated through SCHOOL-BASED reductions yet to be determined. Roughly half of the staffing cuts could be made through retirements and resignations.

Voters approve VPS levies - 02/12/19

Vancouver Public Schools’ replacement levies for education and operations and technology passed on election night. The replacement levy for education and operations received 63.49 percent approval, and the technology levy received 61.78 percent approval. Both levies needed a 50 percent simple majority vote for passage. Historically, late-arriving ballots have caused the percentage of yes votes to rise after election day.

“I am extremely proud of our community,” said Board President Rosemary Fryer. “The passage of the levies shows the high regard our voters hold for our school district and the education of our children and youth.”

The four-year education and operations levy continues local funding through 2023. At the new state cap of $1.50 per $1,000 estimated property value, it makes up about 12 percent of the district’s general fund budget.

The replacement technology levy, first approved in 2013, continues local funding through 2025. It makes up about 2.2 percent of the district’s budget. The tech levy enables the district to replace and update digital devices, such as iPads and laptop computers, for all students in grades 3-12. It also provides funds for teacher training on the effective use of technology for teaching and learning.

“Vancouver voters have shown their support for our schools consistently for more than 50 years, and I am grateful for this vote of confidence,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “Although we now must address budget challenges due to the state’s new funding system, the local levies will help meet the needs of our students and prepare them for college, careers and life.”

Levy results will be certified on Feb. 22.

For more information, go to the VPS website.

High school welding and fabrication students receive industry advice to improve efficiency, safety - 02/06/19

Students at Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies are learning how to improve efficiency and safety in their school's welding and fabrication lab. Professionals from eight Pacific Northwest companies are spending a week at the school to mentor students as they learn about "lean" principles by applying "6S" practices. These practices help reduce accidents and increase quality and productivity while also building leadership, collaboration and communication skills.

Mentors include professionals from A-dec, Astronics/PECO, Blount, Glen Dimplex Americas, Silicon Forest Electronics, Smith Gardens, Kyocera and Free Hand Fab. The participating companies are all part of the Northwest High Performance Enterprise Consortium, a cross-section of Oregon and Southwest Washington businesses that share information, hold classes and provide hands-on learning experiences regarding continuous improvement. 

Lean/6S thinking is sought after by employers and can be applied in all industries, including but not limited to manufacturing, health care and food services.

The weeklong mentorship program will provide the following opportunities for media coverage:

  • Thursday, Feb. 7, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (Students are labeling and cleaning tools and materials.)
  • Monday, Feb. 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. (Students will be reporting on their progress and showing before-and-after pictures.)

As part of Vancouver Public Schools’ focus on preparing students for a variety of careers, Fort Vancouver High School has had a welding and fabrication shop for more than 20 years.

Fort Vancouver High School is located at 5700 E 18th St., Vancouver, WA 98661.

Get an inside look at public schools - 01/30/19

Everyone is welcome to take a tour of two public schools on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. On the Visit VPS tour, guests will engage with staff and students, explore classrooms and programs and experience learning at two schools:

Roosevelt Elementary

  • Highly capable program

  • Dance and creative movement class

  • Cooperative learning using technology

  • English language learners instruction

Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies

  • Programs of choice, including Culinary Arts and Welding and Metal Fabrication

  • Science, technology, engineering and math

  • Multidimensional projects

The tour will begin and end at the Bates Center for Educational Leadership, 2921 Falk Rd. The tour starts at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 1 p.m. After the tour, guests have the option of enjoying a student musical performance and delicious lunch prepared by culinary arts students. Lunch is available for $5 per person.

Everyone is welcome, but space is limited. Advance registration is required. Sign up online to reserve a spot.

VPS announces terms of three-year contract with VAESP - 01/25/19

After members of Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals voted this evening to ratify a new, three-year contract with Vancouver Public Schools, the district released the basic terms of the agreement.

On average, VAESP members will receive total salary improvements of 11.4 percent in the first year, 3 percent in the second year, and 3.1 percent in the third year of the contract for a total of 17.5 percent. The increases include the state’s annual cost-of-living adjustment. The added cost of the contract to the district will be $3.5 million over the first two years, which is $500,000 more than offered in the Dec. 21 tentative agreement on a two-year contract.

“The VPS and VAESP bargaining teams worked very hard to finalize an agreement, and we are grateful for their collaboration,” said Steve Webb, superintendent. “We also appreciate the efforts of the new state mediator who helped this week to clarify the misunderstanding that occurred with our tentative agreement reached last month. In light of the ratified contract, VPS is withdrawing its unfair labor practice claim against VAESP.” That claim was filed with the state Public Employment Relations Commission after the Dec. 21 deal fell apart.

Contract negotiations have been especially challenging this year because Washington state changed its funding system for K-12 education. Although the legislature allocated an additional $2 billion in McCleary money for district employee salaries in 2018-19, it also placed a mandatory cap on local levies (levy swap), thereby reducing districts’ local funding by $1.2 billion. Also, only a portion of the McCleary money was intended for salary improvements; most of it was provided to sustain funding for existing salaries to help offset district revenue lost through the levy swap.

Because of these changes in state funding and contractual commitments, VPS faces a projected shortfall of nearly $12 million in 2019-20. “Unless the legislature fixes the McCleary mess, VPS and many other districts across the state will be forced to cut valued staff positions,” said Webb. He noted that Seattle and Tacoma already have begun to announce budget reductions along with Vancouver.

“We respect our educational support professionals and we believe they should receive fair and competitive wages,” said Webb. “It’s extremely frustrating that the legislature enacted the McCleary solution in a way that has caused unprecedented levels of contention between unions and districts as they’ve negotiated contracts.”

“I encourage our students, parents, teachers, staff and community members to share their concerns about the continued underfunding of K-12 education with our elected leaders in Olympia,” said Webb. “Legislators need to understand the real financial impact of their decisions on our community’s schools.”

VPS and VAESP tentatively agree on a contract - 01/25/19

After a full day of state-supported mediation, Vancouver Public Schools and Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals reached a new tentative agreement on a contract for secretaries, clerks and paraprofessionals. The agreement was reached just after midnight.

Schools will operate as usual on Friday, Jan. 25. Details of the settlement will be released after VAESP holds a ratification vote.

“I am grateful to the bargaining teams for continuing to work together to finalize this agreement and keep our students in school,” said VPS Superintendent Steve Webb. “I  appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we concluded these difficult negotiations.”

Negotiations update for Vancouver Public Schools and Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals - 01/23/19

Bargaining teams for Vancouver Public Schools and Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals are continuing state mediation this afternoon. They are scheduled to negotiate all day tomorrow and will work into the evening if necessary to try to reach agreement on a contract.

The complex and inequitable funding system adopted by the legislature in response to the McCleary lawsuit has made the process of bargaining contracts exceptionally difficult. The legislature’s solution has divided and disrupted many communities across the state.

The VPS board of directors and leadership team are committed to providing district employees with fair and competitive wages in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner. Please check the district website daily for updates.

VPS budget reductions - 01/22/19

Without a change in state revenue projections or a legislative solution to the McCleary “fix” in this legislative session, Vancouver Public Schools will need to address an $11.44 million budget shortfall forecast for the 2019-20 school year.

“The challenges in front of VPS are not unique or unexpected,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “Districts across Clark County and Washington state face the same predicament. This is a direct result of flawed legislation passed in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the state must provide full funding for K-12 education.”

Initial budget cuts for the 2019-20 school year will be made through reductions in the district’s central administrative services.

Recommended reductions include: 

  • Five district-level administrative positions
  • Fifteen teacher-on-special-assignment positions providing instruction and classroom support for curriculum and instructional technology
  • Five percent cut to central office and support service hourly staff positions, and materials, supplies and operating costs in 2019-20

Central administrative services reductions are expected to save $3.9 million.

“These valued employees provide essential leadership that supports teaching and learning for our students and their families, which makes these decisions extremely difficult,” said Webb. “For the affected team members, this news is devastating. I know they are passionate about pursuing our district’s vision for equity and excellence, and we are committed to supporting them during this transition.”

Teachers on special assignment will have the opportunity to return to the classroom.

Overall, the projected $11.44 million budget shortfall for 2019-20 will be addressed in the following manner: 

  • One-third of the solutions—approximately $3.75 million—will be generated from an estimated $1.5 million in reductions in spending for the remainder of this school year and$2.25 million from the 2019-20 fund balance. Because this is one-time money, that part of the shortfall must be addressed again in the 2020-21 budget.
  • One-third of the solutions—an estimated $3.9 million—will be in cost savings from district-level administrative employee reductions.
  • One-third of the solutions—an estimated $3.79 million—will be generated through school-based reductions yet to be determined.

Further budget updates based on enrollment forecasts, current state budget implications, annual teacher vacancy averages and one-year teacher contracts will be presented at the Feb. 12 school board meeting.

VAESP rejects VPS proposal for additional contract enhancements - 01/22/19

In an effort to resolve a dispute over the terms of a tentative agreement on a two-year contract between Vancouver Public Schools and the Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals, VPS proposed to add a third year to the contract and provide additional enhancements if sufficient funding comes from the state to cover those costs.

VAESP rejected the district’s proposal. VAESP leaders stood firm in their position that VPS withdrew from the tentative agreement reached on Dec. 21 after VAESP asserted that total salary improvements did not include the state cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA. The state mediator confirmed again today, however, that the tentative agreement signed by both parties included the state COLA as part of total salary improvements.

The proposal presented by VPS today included the following:

2018-19          10.2 percent total salary improvement on average, inclusive of the state COLA
2019-20          State COLA (estimated at 2 percent)
2020-21          State COLA (estimated at 2 percent); $125,000 for workload relief; and either $250,000 to improve staffing positions or a one percent salary improvement on top of the state COLA

Over the three-year contract, total salary improvement on average would be 15.2 percent, contingent on changes to state law that would improve funding for school districts.

At the end of the day, VAESP presented a one-year, 12.2 percent total salary improvement on average, inclusive of the state COLA, for 2018-19. This proposal increases costs by an estimated $500,000. The district intends to respond at the next scheduled mediation.

The next mediation session is scheduled for Jan. 30. VPS intends to move forward in filing an unfair labor practice claim against VAESP with the Public Employment Relations Commission. The district’s position has not changed that VAESP and VPS signed the Dec. 21 tentative agreement with a mutual understanding of the terms.

VPS prepares to file unfair labor practice against VAESP - 01/21/19

Vancouver Public Schools is preparing to file an unfair labor practice claim with the Public Employment Relations Commission against the Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals pending the outcome of Jan. 22 mediation.

VPS and VAESP previously announced a tentative agreement on Dec. 21 after bargaining with assistance from a state mediator. Last week, VAESP informed its members that the union’s leaders no longer supported the tentative agreement.

In the tentative agreement, VPS agreed to provide VAESP members $2 million in total salary improvements plus $400,000 of mandatory benefit contributions in 2018-19 and $500,000 in total salary improvements plus $100,000 of mandatory benefit contributions in 2019-20. The total overall cost increase to the district would be $3 million per year by 2019-20.

The state mediator confirmed for VPS on Dec. 21 that the VAESP bargaining team was informed and understood that the total salary improvements included state cost-of-living adjustment increases. After working with VPS in January to establish new salary schedules, however, VAESP leaders asserted that the total salary improvements were to be given on top of the state cost-of-living adjustments.

In a Jan. 15 meeting with union members, and in subsequent communications to union members, VAESP leaders stated that VPS had withdrawn from the tentative agreement. The district responded publicly in a Jan. 16 news release that it absolutely had not withdrawn.

The tentative agreement would improve total hourly wages from 2017-18 to 2018-19 by 10.2 percent on average and 2 percent on average in 2019-20, for a total improvement of 12.2 percent on average over two years.

VPS is continuing to work through the state mediator to resolve the dispute with VAESP.