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LWSD budget proposed for upcoming school year

At its June 23 meeting, the Lake Washington School District board of directors received a draft budget for the 2014-15 school year that included an increase of 6.7 percent in revenues, rising from $256.3 million to $273.4 million in the general fund. That increase involved additional state revenue to fund basic education. It also included increased revenue related to added enrollment and other factors.

These budget additions are possible primarily because of an increase in revenues from the state. Over the past two years, the state legislature has begun to take steps to fully fund basic education as a result of the McCleary state Supreme Court decision. That decision ruled the state was not meeting its obligation to fully fund K-12 public education as required by the state constitution.

The 6.7 percent increase in revenue comes to $17.1 million, including $5.3 million due to enrollment increases, $2.5 million in increased levy receipts, and $7.8 million in new state revenue. However, expenditures also increased by about 5.1 percent. A significant rise came in staffing to support increased enrollment. That need will require an expenditure of $3.8 million. Other costs are increases in staff compensation, health care and pension costs, another $3.8 million, and $2 million for specific programs from grants and self-supporting programs.

In the end, the district plans about $8.5 million in new expenditures. The district went through a multi-phase process this spring to collect potential budget additions and review them. Surveys of staff and parents gathered feedback about specific district programs, both current and proposed. A representative leadership team reviewed all budget requests. That group reviewed such considerations as whether the request could be funded from other resources and whether the request addressed a need that is impeding the organization’s ability to function well or if it added resources needed to accomplish a specific strategic initiative.

“It is critically important that we make budget addition decisions that align to our strategic goals, objectives and priority work, so we can continue to strive to achieve our mission and vision for students,” noted Dr. Traci Pierce, superintendent. “The budget reflects that we are being very intentional about linking our strategic work with our resource needs to ensure that we are appropriately aligning resources to accomplish our strategic work.”

Highlights of the additions include staffing to provide quality training and professional learning for employees. That area was heavily cut in 2009 when the state significantly reduced funding for schools. The additions include 10 professional learning coaches who will work with teachers at all grade levels across the district. In addition, four literacy coaches will work specifically with elementary schools. These additions are aimed at the district’s goal to recruit, hire and retain highly effective personnel.

Other additions that focus on the goal area of safe and innovative learning environments include funding for five additional school nurses, two mental health/social workers, plus additional grounds and custodial staff and equipment.

More information about the budget process, school funding and these budget additions can be found in the June 23 budget presentation. In addition, Dr. Pierce provided more information and context about these additions in her monthly Superintendent’s Message.

The proposed budget that included these additions is posted on the district’s website. The district invites comments from the community between now and the Aug. 4 meeting. The board will hold a public hearing at that meeting. Members of the public will have an opportunity to provide input to the board about the budget in that hearing. The board will hold a final vote on the budget at that Aug. 4 meeting. Comments on the proposed budget may be emailed to the district’s board of directors at board@lwsd.org or mailed to Lake Washington School District, PO Box 97039, Redmond, WA 98073-9739.

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