Opinion

Budget balanced, but not unscathed | Guest Column

Rick Thompson - Contributed photo
Rick Thompson
— image credit: Contributed photo

The San Juan Island School District was pleased to see the beginning stages of funding improvements for K-12 education, particularly in the area of pupil transportation, materials and supplies, and learning program support.

However, the legislature has a long way to go to meet its paramount duty to fully fund K-12 education as seen in the McCleary lawsuit. Additional needed revenue is estimated to be over 4 billion dollars statewide over the next two biennia.

We have a long way to go to fully fund public education in Washington state.

State revenue enhancements did not include full day kindergarten for San Juan Island School District, nor did it include funding for educator cost-of-living adjustments.

The revenue enhancements are not enough to compensate for the impact of declining enrollment in the school district. We have projected 755 student full-time equivalents for the 2013-14 year. The trend over the next four years is expected to continue to decline, requiring careful attention to the fiscal health of the district.

Please note that many projects taking place in the district such as repairs at Friday Harbor Elementary School are funded by Capital and Technology Levy dollars the community passed by voters in 2012.

Capital and Technology improvements will continue through 2016, but these dollars cannot be used for the salaries of classroom teachers, teaching support, or supplies.

We will begin the planning phases for the Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) capital gift the district received, dollars which will be designated primarily for facility improvements.

On July 13, the San Juan Island School District Board of Directors passed Resolution 13-010, which adopted the following budget authorizations:

General Fund $8,757,871

Transportation Vehicle Fund $120,000

Capital Projects Fund $1,100,000

Debt Service Fund $330,200

Associated Student Body Fund $106,238

Budget highlights for 2013-14 include balanced revenues and expenditures, a responsible end fund, provision for anticipated federal sequester, and overall support for quality instructional programs.

The district took several steps to balance the budget, including operational cuts, reducing staff positions and hours, implementing furloughs, and partnering with local agencies and organizations to provide innovative and support services for students.

In all, over $600,000 in cuts, savings, and new revenue was enacted for the 2013-14 budget. One impact is that Griffin Bay will be moved to district-owned space in the former sixth-grade wing at the middle school.

What You Can Do To Help

Consider supporting or increasing your support for the San Juan Public Schools Foundation (www.sjpsf.org). The dollars raised by the foundation directly support classroom instruction by helping with textbook adoptions, supplies, materials, and specific classroom support. This year’s Phone-A-Thon is set for October 2 and 3.

Continue to engage our legislators in the fight to fully fund K-12 education. Our children deserve the best education possible to compete in the global economy. Become informed about the district’s continuing challenges with the budget, especially as it relates to the program and operational impact of declining enrollment. Our board meetings are open to the public, and our documents are available for your review on our website under BoardDocs at www.sjisd.wednet.edu.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need further information.

— Editor’s note: Rick Thompson is superintendent of San Juan Island School District

 

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