Last updated: March 2, 2017

In light of recent concerns, questions, and issues expressed by association leadership, staff, and parents, we—Superintendent Coogan and her leadership cabinet—have created this historical perspective and responses to frequently asked questions; we hope to build common understanding of the Tukwila School District’s current fiscal and academic realities so that we can move forward together. 

Three main sections:

Financial Historical Perspective—How We Got to Where We are Today …

Summary: The 2016-17 operations budget turned out to be one of the Tukwila School District’s most fiscally challenging for several reasons: The fund balance had been drawn down by critically needed building repairs, major grants had expired and those costs were transferred to the operations budget, and the approved expenditure plan in the previous budget did not fully account for the actual cost of maintaining programs (e.g., summer school). The most significant change, however, was an unprecedented decline in student enrollment. For decades, the Tukwila School District had relied on predictable and stable student enrollment, which equated to predictable and stable state and federal revenue. When it became clear that student enrollment was significantly under projections in the 2015-16 school year, mid-year corrections to staffing levels were not implemented, and the fund balance absorbed those costs. Course corrections were made in the 2016-17 operations budget. Much remains unknown at the state and federal levels heading into 2017-18 budget planning. Our own financial systems, however, are becoming more stable: State auditors applauded Tukwila for a clean audit this year, citing significant improvement under Dr. Coogan’s tenure.


During the 2007-12 economic recession, the Tukwila School District made a deliberate decision to carry a fund balance up to 14 percent of its operations budget to ensure solvency during a this uncertain financial period. As a result, major maintenance and operational repairs were intentionally delayed. Student enrollment was stable and uninterrupted, which yielded sufficient revenue to pay for expenses. Staffing and personnel was the right size for the district. When a major federal grant expired, the district shifted expenses paid for by those grant dollars to the operations budget. As a result, the district continued to use operating budget rather than eliminating services that the grant had paid for.


The 2012-14 years shepherded a new reality for the district. Emergency repairs and renovations to its facilities were needed. Because no capital bond dollars were available, these repairs had to be paid for out of the fund balance, which was at a sufficient level to manage. To name just a few of the high-cost repairs that resulted in several million dollars of intentional and approved withdrawals from the fund balance: new roof for high school, repair of leaks in other facility roofs, and the required renovation of special-education classrooms (at the middle- and high-school level, these classrooms had not been repaired in years, resulting in “fixes” like duct tape on the changing table; there were also no showers or washers, lifts, or proper equipment for life skills). Student enrollment remained stable and uninterrupted, which yielded sufficient revenue to pay for operating expenses. During this period, there were challenges among the employee culture. Personnel disputes were filed against the district by some employees that resulted in an increase in legal fees and financial disbursements to the claimants, prior to the current superintendent. Thus, the district’s fund balance continued to be reduced. While these were unexpected expenses, there was no worry because the stability of increasing student enrollment generated enough state and federal revenues to continue uninterrupted funding of staffing and operations.


Confidence in fiscal stability was at an all-time high at the start of the 2013-14 year, when Dr. Coogan began her tenure. Besides, the Washington Supreme Court had just ordered lawmakers to amply fund basic education, so districts statewide expected these increased revenues would come soon… The Tukwila School District engaged a professional demographer whose guidance indicated that there would be too many unhoused students attending schools in Tukwila and warned corrective-preventive action was critical. Years of constant, uninterrupted student enrollment provided district leaders sufficient confidence that there would be revenue to pay for the added annual operating expenses generated by expanded/new buildings. As a result of sureness, belief, and trust in the demographer and historical enrollment trends, the district responded appropriately to ensure readiness for the future.

In the meantime, payroll compensation was off and needed correction and fine-tuning (a long-standing district problem, mentioned often by staff to Dr. Coogan as a top priority when she was hired; employees said they were often NOT paid on time or the proper amount). Turnover of district employees was high, as it was in other districts around the state of Washington. To be competitive and attract and retain high-quality employees, salaries were adjusted to reflect the regional market and needed supports were added at the district and school levels.

  • District office: Some management positions were restructured to director positions, including the Director of Finance, Director of Maintenance and Operations, Director of Food Services, and Director of Technology. The district restructured departments and added coordinator positions in the Offices of Special Education and ELL. An Executive Director of STEAM was added to accommodate the new instructional focus of the district. A Director of Assessment was added as a result of the student-achievement gap related to standardized test requirements. A Director of Communication and Director of Early Learning were also added. Later in the year, the Executive Director of Finance and Operations became the Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations.
  • Local schools: In the meantime, the district also added 20+ additional certificated and/or classified positions for school buildings above the state’s prototypical model and labor unions negotiated successfully upward salaries and benefits for its members. There was a notion that the district was busting at the seams with more students than seats fueled the district’s response time. Academic consultants were utilized to develop a strategic plan to set district on a new teaching, learning, and evaluation pathway and to provide professional development opportunities for teachers in the core academic areas for positioning them to pilot new reading and math curriculum that would help to improve the academic achievement of students.*See Appendix A: 10 Year History of Total Staff & Student FTE; Enrollment vs. Staffing Levels, Actuals


In early 2014-15, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) completed its second-year Consolidated Program Review (CPR) of the Use of Categorical or Federal Funding and the findings were less than stellar with more than 60 findings. *See Appendix B: TEST, LLC Report: 2015 Summer School Funding Analysis Final Report, dated April 3, 2015. In the meantime, the district’s ambitious strategic plan demanded more academic programming for students, the most expensive of which were after-school support and summer school (both were not budgeted).  These two expenses began to strain the fund balance, which was already being used for critical repairs. The district brainstormed how to utilize more of its categorical (federal) funding to pay for after-school and summer-school programs. At the end of March 2015, the district sought help from national expert Dr. Judith Berry to solve the problem of funding summer school with district’s Title allocation. She completed her report and recommendations on April 3, 2015, which would put the district on a path toward reconciling the audit findings and being able to use its Title funding for after-school and summer-school programs. In addition, Dr. Berry elicited the support of another national consultant, Vivian Palmer to conduct an organizational needs analysis and assist with the elements of the data review.  Ms. Palmer’s findings identified organizational systems gaps and the need for coordination and centralized system structures. *Appendix B: TEST, LLC Report: 2015 Summer School Funding Analysis Final Report, dated April 3, 2015


When the assistant superintendent of finance and operations gave notice of his intent to resign in August, 2015, both he and the superintendent called on Dr. Berry to immediately fill the position on an interim, contractual basis with the intent of hiring a permanent replacement within a few months. With the coming year’s budget already approved by the school board, Dr. Berry expected to come in a maintenance capacity. She also had oversight of the bond and levy initiatives that the school board had approved for the February 2016 ballot. Dr. Berry quickly discovered that the approved budget was not, in fact, an adequate representation of the actual expenses anticipated for the entire academic and fiscal year; too many staff members were demanding additional monies for items not accounted for in the budget. Thus, the budgeted expenditures were already insufficient when a serious trend became apparent in the budgeted revenues—putting 2015-16 on course to be one of the district’s most challenging fiscal years. Dr. Berry also took charge of stretching bond funds—getting the most from every penny, creatively when needed—to ensure not just construction of buildings but support of the community’s vision for 21st-Century programming.

Early in 2015-16, it became clear that student enrollment was below projection. (Please note, each student represents approximately $10,000 in the operations budget.) The result was that expenses exceeded revenues for the first time. Why did enrollment decrease? As was a trend across the state/nation, the economic recovery allowed more heads of household to work, which resulted in families having more flexibility to relocate and live in new and different communities. The City of Tukwila no longer had a monopoly as the only choice for immigrant and refugee citizenry to settle.

Thus, a different kind of fiscal confrontation had erupted forcing the district to right-size its operations budget looking ahead to the 2016-17 year. The 2015-16 budget was developed based on an enrollment projection of 2,981; the actual fourth-day count was 2,906.53. The difference of 74.47 students equated to approximately $744,700 fewer basic education dollars. While the dollars were fewer, district leaders decided not to “correct course mid-year” by trimming expenses (i.e., staffing) to meet actual student count. Expenses were absorbed by fund balance rather than eliminated. For example, in June 2015 and in preparation of the 2015-16 budget, the district decided to hire academic coaches and to purchase other instructional resources to support the academic achievement of students, utilizing Race to the Top (RTTT) grant and Learning Assistance Program (LAP) dollars. At this time, the district was aware that the RTTT grant would end at the end of the fiscal year, which meant that the sustainability of associated expenses could not be maintained after August 2016 if the increase in student enrollment was not the standard. Furthermore, the LAP grant for 2015-16 was $1,081,000. By May 20, 2016, the accrued expenses amounted to $1,354,646. As a result, the district provided additional staffing support to schools that exceeded revenues by $273,646. Moreover, Special and Pilot Program state dollars decreased as well as allocations for Title III LEP, and Trans Bilingual. Summer School budget was not allocated for the 2015-16 academic year in the district budget approved by the board of directors, yet it was able to host a summer school program.

In preparation for the 2016-17 budget cycle, the district found it necessary to balance many of these grant accounts that had been overspent and to stop financial expenditures related to the expired RTTT grant. To guide this plan, the Business Office implemented a structured procedures to document the process and assembled notebooks of important information about the historical spending of the district and the status of each of the departments and programs. These notebooks were reviewed with the superintendent and her cabinet, the board of directors, principals, and the former union and current union president of the Tukwila Education Association for guidance making budget decisions.

During this time, the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning resigned from the district. When it became apparent that Dr. Berry’s “maintenance” role in the Business Office was anything but, both Assistant Superintendent positions—that of Teaching and Learning and that of Business and Operations—were consolidated into one Deputy Superintendent position, which Dr. Berry accepted on a full-time basis on March 1, 2016. Ms. Palmer was appointed as the Executive Director of Accountability, Assessment and Technology to fully implement the restructuring of systems related to the performance analysis. The district created a new Chief Academic Officer position to head Teaching and Learning. The HR Supervisor position was converted to Director of Employee Services when the incumbent resigned and was replaced by Charlene Edwards, an HR professional with nearly thirty years of experience. Other personnel decisions were made and approved as part of the 2016-17 budget, which is available to be viewed at the district’s website.


During the development of the 2016-17 budget cycle, morale was low because of the decrease in enrollment that yielded less revenue and adjusted expenses. Expenditures were reduced by the option of moving academic coaches to open teaching positions (after the grant used to create these positions had expired), decreasing the travel budget, freezing district-office administrator salaries, exercising lag-hire protocols for open administrative positions, and reducing programs to match reduced state and federal categorical funding. The budget office made certain that the 2016-17 budget closely matched the actual projected costs of operation (e.g. summer school was well accounted for) and did NOT rely on using reserve-fund dollars.


“Clean” audit

After a dogged effort by the entire cabinet and their staffs as well as major contributions from building administration and their staffs,  the Tukwila School District received a clean CPR audit (resolving long-standing audit findings predating Dr. Coogan’s tenure). On January 26, 2017, OSPI commended the Tukwila School District for its significant improvements and best practices in academic and financial systems over the last three years. OSPI auditors showed their confidence in Tukwila by moving the District from a high-scrutiny annual cycle of audits to a normal five-year cycle. In addition OSPI commended the District for its responsiveness and demonstrated compliance in each program, as well as “efforts to build the McKinney-Vento program supporting the needs of homeless students in the district.”


Planning for next year’s budget has begun. The first meeting of the 2017-18 Budget Advisory Team was held Thursday, February 16, 2017. While the meetings are closed, the membership list will be posted online so that all stakeholders may communicate with the members of the team. The budget-process booklet will be posted online as the committee works through it so that staff and community members may follow along. Everyone will be encouraged to share thoughts and feedback with any Budget Advisory Team member (contact information will be listed).

There are many unknowns for the coming year and beyond, such as expected further decrease in student enrollment, a looming “levy cliff” in the state legislature that would decrease our revenue by more than $2 million per year unless lawmakers take action, and the continued promise that lawmakers will comply with the McCleary decision to amply and equitably fund basic education. Tukwila school board members and administrators continue to be in close contact with lawmakers so that they understand the challenges we encounter with the current funding system. (Seattle Times article about “stealth inequities” hurting the most vulnerable students.)

*Historical Perspective Supporting Documents: Appendices and charts

The Way Forward: A Promise of Action

  • A standards-based, online elementary report card will be completed by June 30, 2017, with teacher training this summer.
  • Curriculum adoptions/purchases for core math and reading materials will be completed by July 1, 2017. The Chief Academic Officer is currently seeking review/feedback to finalize a fast-tracked comprehensive adoption plan for the coming five years.
  • The district’s strategic plan is being “refreshed” after three years; staff and community members can expect to see a report of progress and streamlined goals reflected in a “back to basics” Teaching and Learning plan unveiled in April’s State of the District address by Dr. Coogan.
  • District leaders are outreaching to re-establish regular meetings between association leaders as well as listening sessions with building representatives.
  • Creative Learning SmartLabs have been approved for purchase with Technology Levy funding. Three labs to be installed for Summer 2017. These directly align with strategic goals for 21st Century Learning, STEAM initiatives, and align with our high school Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways.
  • Bond and levy activities are on time and within budget: The Foster High School modernization and the Birth to Kindergarten Center are on schedule; permitting is underway, and construction begins June 2018. The Cascade View Elementary modernization will be completed during the summer of 2017 (this was moved up in light of critical repairs needed sooner rather than later). Bus drivers will now have indoor toilets in the new Transportation Building later this fall. Technology and Maintenance and Operation departments will be housed in the former KCLS Foster Library building, which the district has purchased with bond funds. The Herman C. Anderson Administration Building will undergo minor renovations to fix the HVAC system and to adjust a few office spaces (these are mostly safety/health requirements, different than the renovation of the lobby and the installation of new carpeting in the boardroom several years ago). Showalter Middle School modernization is at stage one, and a request for bids was issued February 21, 2017, to solicit architectural services.
  • Ten new buses will arrive by May 2017 to transport our students, utilizing safe and dependable equipment.
  • The student pilot program allowing students to take home laptops will begin in the next month (“anytime, anyplace, anywhere learning”).
  • Hotspots for Internet services will be available and purchased for students in need with Tech Levy funding. Watch out for more information on the district’s website.
  • The Tukwila Online School application has been submitted to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for approval. This will allow the district to recapture FTE and serve students who need a more flexible alternative to the traditional school day. Watch out for more information on the district’s website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I have more questions! How do I know whom to contact?

A. The district has an organizational chart, service directory, complete staff directory, leadership directory, and administration-building posted online. Still don’t know where to start? Call the district’s main number, 206-901-8000, and ask for help.

Q. How is the district preparing for summer school this year?

A. Plans are well underway, headed by Chief Academic Officer JoAnne Fabian. The dates are July 5 to August 4, Monday through Thursday. More information is online. This year, we have taken several steps to ensure summer-school success: The operations budget includes ample summer-school funding; planning and hiring of coordinators started much earlier; the Chief Academic Officer will more closely manage and oversee summer-school in general; student recruitment has already begun so that families can be informed well before the end of school. Contact: Chief Academic Officer JoAnne Fabian, 206-901-8032.

Q. What’s the status of the highly capable program, and does it meet or exceed state requirements?

A. The Chief Academic Officer is finalizing plans to hire expert outside assistance to review the current status of the highly capable program and provide recommendations for moving forward in the spring of this school year. With that program review, the Chief Academic Officer will develop a plan of action for implementation in 2017-18; budget has already been reserved for professional development and other needs. The plan will specifically address the three aspects of highly capable programs required by the state: student identification, program operations, and program evaluation. Contact: Chief Academic Officer JoAnne Fabian, 206-901-8032.

Q. Are there plans to reinstate after school programs?

A. The 2017-18 budget will not be approved until June 2017 by the Board of Directors.  Currently, $300,000  has been requested by the Office of Teaching and Learning for after-school programs at all grade levels. In March, a planning group will come together to plan the after-school programs that focus on enrichment opportunities to complement supplemental core academic instruction for students, including expanding STEAM offerings.  Contact: Chief Academic Officer JoAnne Fabian, 206-901-8032.

Q. What’s the status of current and planned curriculum adoptions and trainings?K-5 English Language Arts and middle-school Math material reviews are underway for completion and board adoption in June 2017.

A. Elementary teachers are also underway training to implement Discovery Science next school year, which is fully aligned to Next Generation Science Standards. The Chief Academic Officer is finalizing a comprehensive curriculum materials adoption plan that will accommodate purchasing instructional materials to align with rapid changes in society that will help our scholars prepare for the future. This plan should be available and posted online by the end of March. All adoptions include budget for professional development for teachers, and the vendor requests for proposals include professional-development training. Contact: Chief Academic Officer JoAnne Fabian, 206-901-8032.

Q. When will elementary schools finally get a standards-aligned online report card?

A. Work is underway now! This is a priority. We expect to have the report card finalized by June, summer training for teachers, and implementation for the new school year. Contact: Chief Academic Officer JoAnne Fabian, 206-901-8032.

Q. This school year, the calendar had to be adjusted to meet state instructional-hour requirements. Who is responsible for that moving forward?

A. Each year, the chief academic officer—in collaboration with the labor unions and the cabinet (which includes the superintendent; deputy superintendent; chief academic officer; executive director of human resources; executive director of accountability, assessment, and technology; the controller, and director of communications)—is responsible for calculating instructional hours. This will be an initial step in the calendar-building process each year. Contact: Chief Academic Officer JoAnne Fabian, 206-901-8032.

Q. New buildings, SmartLabs, project managers—can’t some of these expenditures be used for staffing and curriculum, which seems more foundational?

A. We are, indeed, focusing on the basics of standard-aligned curriculum and materials implemented with ample teacher support and training to meet the needs of all students. Every child needs to receive strong, consistent basic-education instruction with appropriate interventions and supports when needed. As for building construction and technology, these areas are not separate from classroom learning—they are an integral part of it. It’s important to understand that we have a designated capital bond for construction and a levy for technology. These ballot measures were approved by local voters in February 2016 specifically for these purposes. The capital bond is for physical plant upgrades, building modernizations, and maintenance and operations projects. The bond also covers the construction of the new birth to kindergarten building. By law, bond proceeds focus only on capital projects and cannot pay for operational costs such as staffing, except those associated with bond activities, and curriculum.  On the other hand, the Technology Levy allocations can fund instructional technology including online and blended learning curriculum systems such as the Creative Learning SmartLabs, Chromebooks, hotspots for accessing the Internet, and more. Basic Education Allocation or state dollars are used to pay for staffing and curriculum and daily operations (utilities, etc.).  Federal funding allocations and other state funding such as Title I and II, LAP, Special Education, IDEA, ELL, Perkins, and CTE pay for direct resources for all academic programming.  In other words, these dollars are for very specific purposes and cannot be allocated to any other program or purpose. Contact: Executive Director of Accountability Assessment, and Technology Vivian Palmer, 206-901-8070; and Deputy Superintendent  Judith Berry, 206-901-8037. 

Q. What is our review process and plan for classroom based assessments moving forward? What is the most important data that we are trying to collect from classroom-based assessments?

A. The Accountability, Assessment and Technology division began its operational restructuring with the development of the Coordinated Assessment Guide (still in draft form). This tool outlines the plans moving forward which include the developing and establishing operating goals, policies, and procedures for the assessment staff, as appropriate; recommendations, implementation, and administration methods and procedures to district stakeholders to enhance the on-going operational effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability of our assessment program.

The Tukwila School District’s goal is to implement the Understanding by Design framework and process to structure curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Standards/curriculum, instruction, and assessment are three pillars in the learning process; the three components work together to produce and demonstrate high levels of student achievement. We want to see high levels of student engagement that promote authentic problem solving as well as critical thinking skills. The question is: How do we best assess whether this is happening in the classroom? The Executive Director of Accountability, Assessment and Technology assembled a team of district stakeholders to build the Assessment Vetting Team. This group begin analyzing, and planning for a new district assessment tool in November 2016.

Date Time Location
11/15/16 3:45 – 4:45 pm Thorndyke Elementary (Library)
12/13/16 3:45 – 4:45 pm Tukwila Elementary (Library)
1/17/17 3:45 – 4:45 pm Cascade View Elementary (Library)
2/21/17 3:45 – 4:45 pm Foster High School (Library)
3/21/17 3:45 – 4:45 pm Showalter Middle School (Library)
4/18/17 3:45 – 5:45 pm District Office (Board Room)
5/23/17 3:45 – 4:55 pm District Office (Board Room)

The data that we collect from classroom-based assessments are aligned with the in the following strategies:

  • Standards and curriculum answer the question, “What do we teach?State and Common Core Standards and district adopted curriculum define what we expect students to know, understand, and be able to do. The curriculum articulates a progression of learning goals that is aligned with state standards.
  • Instruction answers the question, How do we teach and empower students to take charge of their learning?It includes the learning experiences, ways of engaging student interest, and means by which teachers differentiate those experiences to scaffold student learning. To be most effective, teachers must employ powerful learning strategies (e.g., Guided Language Acquisition Design, Leveled Literacy Interventions, Project/Problem‐Based Learning, Integration of Technology, Interdisciplinary Curriculum, and Using Real World Data, etc.).
  • Assessment answers the question, How well do we teach?The answer to this is the success rate of each scholar—have they reached their full potential and have they discovered through inquiry what it is they want to pursue? Assessment measures the attainment of learning and provides data that is used formatively, that is, to inform any needed changes in curriculum or instruction for individual students or collectively for grades or content areas. This includes data that is used to determine individual student’s needs for intervention, enrichment or acceleration.

Contact: Executive Director of Accountability Assessment, and Technology Vivian Palmer, 206-901-8070.

Q. Why was the copy center closed, what was the process, and what is the expectation now for what staff prints and how? Have we saved money through the closure?

A. This transition has been in planning for several years. Please refer to the memo, dated December 2015, that outlines the changes in centralized and decentralized copy services. The district modernized copy machines and equipment at each school and renegotiated copying services with our vendors. This aligns with the district’s overall goal to move away from hard copies to digital print and online classroom management systems. Network Support Technicians are available to provide training and troubleshooting on any of the printing and copying equipment. The district no longer processes day-to-day print/copy jobs for staff and has shifted to an “on-demand” or “self-service” model. The decision to close the copy center will drive increased savings when we fully implement online protocols for curriculum, electronic filing, and centralized workflow systems. Copying costs will be monitored as the district moves to and utilizes more online curriculum resources and support staff use more digital tools for completing their work assignments. This monitoring will take place over several years. That being said—due to re-negotiations of equipment prices and the reduction of dedicated personnel costs—we are currently anticipating a 20 percent reduction in expenses from previous years. More information about copy/print savings. Contact: Executive Director of Accountability Assessment, and Technology Vivian Palmer, 206-901-8070; Deputy Superintendent Judith Berry, 206-901-8037

Q. Is there a shortage of substitutes in our district? What are we doing to overcome that?

A. In fall of 2015 we experienced a shortage of substitutes, and even among those in our sub pool we found that individuals were selecting other district jobs before ours. Therefore we increased the rate of sub pay to a level that was higher than neighboring districts. In September 2016 we found that we still had a shortage of substitutes, so we made the choice to reach out to candidates without certification, and request issuance of emergency substitute certificates. We increased the size of the pool by 20% in this way, and now have a pool of 53 substitutes. The number of unfilled substitutes has decreased over the course of the year. Although our cumulative fill rate for the year has been 96.8%, between September and December we had seven days when the fill rate dipped below 90%. Since January only one day has had a fill rate below 90%, and that was aFriday. We still have occasions when we cannot fill a vacancy, but this is due mostly to the incidence of last-minute notification. Even with a larger pool it is still hard to have immediate response from our subs. In addition to emergency subs we also are using the intern substitute certification – we have recently requested 5-6 of such certificates – to allow student teachers to substitute in their own classroom when the cooperating teacher is called to fill a vacancy elsewhere within the school. This measure helps during spring months (mostly) or late fall/winter (less often) when interns are on hand – they are substantially better trained than a new emergency substitute, and are paid to take responsibility for the classroom where they are already student teaching.Contact: Executive Director of Human Resources Rick Maloney, 206-901-8005.

Q. What are the staffing ratios in current employee contracts, and at what levels do teachers receive extra pay or aid?

A. For general-education teachers, kindergarten to first grade has a 22:1 ratio in the contract; second through third grade has 24:1 ratio; fourth through fifth grade has a 27:1 ratio; and sixth through 12th grade has a 30:1 ratio. Beyond those numbers, the district pays $10 per student FTE per day. Special education caseloads are: Preschool has a 13:1 ratio; resource-room has a 35:1 ratio; self-contained has a 15:1 ratio; SLP has a 50:1 ratio; and OT/PT has a 30:1 ratio.Contact: Executive Director of Human Resources Rick Maloney, 206-901-8005.

Q. Are we successfully attracting qualified candidates to fill our vacancies? Which positions remain unfilled or hard to fill, and is this the case statewide

A. We currently have no certificated vacancies. Our most recent hire was a .4 FTE position at Foster High School. However, we have a persistent problem hiring shortage ESA specialists such as School Psychologists, SLP, OT/PT, etc. These hard-to-fill specialties are a statewide problem, and our response has been to reach out to agencies for our needs in this critical area. We are preparing spring postings for these hard-to-fill positions for next year, as the agency solution has a higher price tag.Contact: Executive Director of Human Resources Rick Maloney, 206-901-8005.

Q. Can you post job descriptions for administrators online?

A. We post job descriptions one at a time at the same time as vacancies are posted. This is because job descriptions are reviewed by the immediate supervisor before they are posted to see if they need updating. Here are the current administrative positions for review by staff. Contact: Executive Director of Human Resources Rick Maloney, 206-901-8005. 

Q. In the budget process, what are building-level decisions for resources and what are district-level decisions for resources, especially if cuts are necessary?

A. Budget approval is the responsibility of the Board of Directors and this process will take place in June 2017 for the coming school year. In the meantime, a budget advisory team is in place to give cabinet members feedback on resources that are essential to operating and maintaining district departments and all school-level components.  Important to this process is your recommendations, which can be shared with any member of the budget committee, principals, budget officers, union officers, and cabinet members. The advisory committee is advisory to the superintendent, who will make a budget recommendation to the school board for ultimate approval. Contact: Controller Alphonso Melton, 206-901-8010; Deputy Superintendent Judith Berry, 206-901-8037

Q. Why are bond funds being used to remodel the Administration Building when upgrades to the lobby and boardroom were completed a few years ago?

A. The funds allocated to the Administration Building represent 0.5 percent of the total 2016 bond package. The majority of the upgrades are for required health/safety reasons, including modernizing the HVAC/air system. Minor reconfigurations will also be done to office spaces. The previous entrance remodel and boardroom carpeting were separate projects that cost under $50,000. Contact Deputy Superintendent Judith Berry, 206-901-8037.

Q. Is it true that some positions are already slated to be eliminated in next year’s budget?

A. No, the budget process is just underway and no expenses have been identified for elimination because it is too early in the process. However, if there are to be any human capacity reductions, according to district policies and state law, employees will be notified by May 15, 2017. Contact: Controller Alphonso Melton, 206-901-8010, Dr. Rick Maloney, 206-901-8005.

Q. How many administrative positions have been added since 2013?

A. This is tricky because many positions have been combined or changed. As for the leadership team (which contains principals, directors, and managers/coordinators), each elementary school now has an assistant principal (the three schools split one in 2013-14); we have a project manager (funded through the capital bond); the former McKinney-Vento position was broken out into lower-level McKinney-Vento and Family Engagement positions; the two Assistant Superintendent positions were eliminated and one Deputy Superintendent was added for the purpose of ensuring the connection and collaboration of curriculum and instruction with budget decision making; and the assessment/technology was combined under an Executive Director of Accountability, Assessment, and Technology with a Director of Information Technology and a Director of Accountability and Assessment. Contact: Deputy Superintendent Judith Berry, 206-901-8037; Dr. Rick Maloney, 206-901-8005.

Q. What is being done to stabilize the leadership team and central office staff so we get “traction” in our systems and positive forward momentum?

A. While our focus is on scholars first and the associated revenues and expenses to help them achieve success, the district realizes that the business side or back office plays an important role in getting resources to the classroom and to other departments within school buildings and district offices. District office employees’ salaries were adjusted just as building administrators and teachers were to be competitive with the regional salaries for educational administrators. A doctoral stipend is available to eligible employees (not the superintendent).  District office employees are able to attend professional-development training to keep them abreast of the latest trends and knowledge related to job responsibilities.  On the flip side, there are unhoused staff, which means that they do not have permanent offices or cubicles so they sit in hallways or stand at file cabinets to complete their work.  Some equipment is old and needs updating.  Some of the furniture is displaced in offices and need to be rearranged to help with workflow.  The heating and ventilation system is poor and air quality needs improvement; this must be fixed in the near future. Honoring diversity of thought and their expertise will help to stabilize the leadership team and the central office staff to get the “traction” in our systems and positive forward momentum.  Contact: Deputy Superintendent Judith Berry, 206-901-8037.

Q. How does our spending on central administrative staff compare to other districts? What is our long-term plan?

A. Below is a chart showing our central administrative spending compared to all other districts with under 5,000 students. While we skew slightly on the high side, it is important to note that when the salary charts were restructured during the 2016-17 year for district office administration and building level administrators, the ancillary allocations were added to the base salaries. The school board preferred this method, which then creates the appearance that administrators’ base salaries are more. For example, the superintendent and the deputy superintendent do not receive reimbursement for local mileage or minor equipment costs because this is already built into to the base salary. Other districts separate the ancillary allocations from the base salaries, by doing so, it appears that Tukwila School District spent more money on salaries of district administration. When doing the comparison of other districts, please be sure to compare base salaries and ancillary allocations to get correct percentage of spending on central administrative staff.  The district plan is for all systems, services, and human capital to be evaluated annually to determine the return on investment to the district, utilizing facilitation services from the accountability and assessment department. Based on recommendations from annual review, changes will be made accordingly.   Contact: Controller Alphonso Melton, 206-901-8010; Deputy Superintendent Judith Berry, 206-901-8037.


Q. As a smaller district with complex needs and systems, Tukwila has always relied on a consulting model when specific expertise or large-scale, one-time projects are needed. What return on investment have we received from consultants during the past several years?

A.  Tukwila School District follows a continuous improvement model for operating its schools and administrative offices, which means that we must be nimble to accommodate new ways of doing business and helping to improve the academic success of students so that they are college and career-ready at the time of graduation. To be able to respond quickly, expertise is needed from specialists with either or both unique skills and time to complete defined scopes of work. Over the past several years, the district has benefitted from contracting with consultants with experience as financial experts, reading literacy specialists, race and equity professionals, special education and ELL authorities or contract workers, workforce development coaches, human resources consultant, and strategic planning developers.  The return on investment has been beyond the objectives of the scopes of work.  Contact: Deputy Superintendent Judith Berry, 206-901-8037.