Our Commitment to Each Student
Each. This simple, yet powerfully descriptive four-letter word is the driving force behind every decision made in the Sioux Falls School District. With 24,000 unique students comes an awesome responsibility to provide an education that meets each child’s individual learning style, skills, abilities and interests through daily instruction, curriculum and long-term planning.
As enormous as the undertaking is, the Sioux Falls School District embraces this challenge “to educate and prepare each student to succeed in a changing world.” We are deeply committed to our mission and strive daily to teach with it being our greatest purpose.
Our educational philosophy requires that we offer multiple pathways for students to find success. Researched curriculum, solid programs and technology-assisted learning provide the foundation of education for each student. It is this District’s long history of being fiscally responsible and its effective management of resources that allows us to thrive, year after year.
For FY14, through a combination of a one-time payment as a result of legislative action to support school districts and an increase in the State Aid funding formula, the District will receive a 1.75% increase for discretionary General Fund purposes. In addition, the legislators appropriated and the District will receive approximately $1.3 million dollars to assist in the education of its English Language Learner population.
Finally, up to 15% of State and local Special Education funds can now be utilized to assist with early intervening services for at-risk students.
Proposed FY14 General Fund Budget
Because our community has entrusted us with $7.5 million in opt out dollars, because we continue to identify efficiencies, because we have a rolling five-year financial plan that cautiously monitors our basis for future needs, because we are able to maximize every dollar received through the legislative process and because we are able to carefully manage a spend down of our fund balance, the District is able to recommend a balanced budget for FY14 – without reductions to existing programs and services but with bold plans to move students farther into the 21st Century. The FY14 Budget includes:
Because we know the most important factor in student achievement is a high quality staff and because we know the salary schedules for all of our employees have not recovered from the devastating set-backs in FY11 and FY12, the School Board is in the process of completing negotiations to increase all salary schedules by using FY10 as the base and inflating each step on the schedules by an amount equal to a one percent annual increase per year since then. In addition, as a result of a market analysis, this budget includes an 11% increase in pay for substitute teachers.
Because reading fluency and comprehension are necessary for each student to succeed, the District is fearlessly increasing capacity to serve more struggling readers by adding 19.4 Reading Specialist FTE for its first year of a two year reading intervention program. The plan also calls for an increase in 2 FTE for middle school Lit Zone to provide support for pre-teens and teens who are still struggling with reading concepts.
Because of affordable technology, the District will move toward a long over-due 1:1 technology initiative – putting the power of Chromebooks into the hands of every 3rd through 12th grade student in year one of implementation, and putting iPads into the hands of every Kindergarten through 3rd grade student in year two. In addition, an increase to Teacher Hourly and Benefits reflects the professional development necessary to successfully implement this exciting initiative that is focused on student achievement, student engagement and technology-assisted learning.
To make this plan work, actions include:
- increasing the planned “efficiency factor” for future years from .25% to .75% (efficiencies this year include, over $800,000 in energy savings due to the District’s Energy Education efforts, Operational Services custodial overtime savings, and miscellaneous cuts in the Superintendent, Finance Office, and School Board budgets).
- adhering to last year’s plan to increase the District’s combined Capital Outlay and Bond Redemption levies by six cents to $2.41;
- increasing the projected FY13 Fund Balance by $1 million for FY14 salaries due to $45 per student from the legislators one-time appropriation; and
- over the next 5 years temporarily decreasing the Fund Balance with a projected return to approximately 9.7% in FY18 to attract and retain our high quality staff.
Committed to the Process
The FY14 Budget Recommendation is complex, yet well thought out, thanks to hundreds of hours logged by committees and administrators since the process began in November 2012. Collaboration is key. With the help of 46 community people, 109 professional staff members, and 72 administrators, Leadership Team Members developed the budgets and prepared explanations for the School Board’s consideration. The FY14 Budget emphasizes the need to work collaboratively together when complex problems need to be solved. This 21st Century Skill is one that is embedded into daily lessons for our students.
The FY14 Budget meets the basic needs of students while addressing gaps in reading performance and the need to stay current with technology in the 21st Century. It continues providing the highest-quality education possible, so each of our 24,000 students has access to the pathway that allows them to be successful. It rewards our high quality staff for the time and commitment they demonstrate. It relies heavily upon staff members to be prudent with supplies and resources; always striving to provide a top-notch education to students at maximum efficiency. It demands collaboration between the school, parents, business leaders and the broader community. The balanced FY14 Budget is another example of the Sioux Falls Public Schools’ commitment to its mission “to educate and prepare each student to succeed in a changing world.”