Declining revenue means tight budget for school district
Wahkiakum School District will have a tighter budget to work with this year, with a reserve of $200,000, a number that is approximately $455,000 less than two years ago.
“With every budget I try to include a $60,000 contingency item for the unknown,” Superintendent Bob Garrett said. “Because we are hiring a new teacher, that money is spent. That means our budget will be very tight.”
It also means smaller class sizes.
“We’re going to try to cut some costs,” Garrett continued. “If we are successful, I might be able to stay within the budget approved so far.”
Principals Stephanie Leitz and Theresa Libby will be taking on some of the duties for special programs, work that Jamie Cothren
used to do. This will free up Cothren to move into a teaching position.
With interviews completed, two new teachers have been selected. One will fill Sandy Hendrickson’s position while she takes a sabbatical and the other will teach at the junior high. Not all of the paperwork has been completed and they await approval by the school board.
The classified employees were approved for a raise this year and will receive a 1 percent retroactive pay increase at the end of August. Next year they will receive a one half of one percent raise and the following year, another one half of one percent increase. The increase was approved and provided by the school board and not the state, according to Garrett.
Libby and Leitz will receive raises, but Garrett’s salary will remain the same, another decision made by the board.
Teachers’ salaries are determined by the state.
The total budget stands at $5,056,505. More than half of that, $2,697,488 is budgeted for basic education and $567,535 will go towards special education. The school has set aside $113,680 for vocational classes largely taught by Kyle Hurley at the high school. Another $293,191 is budgeted for compensatory education instruction, which includes the Learning Assistance Program (LAP) and a transitional bilingual program as well as special and pilot programs.
The district has set aside $62,425 for other instructional programs like traffic safety and the highly capable program, and $1,424,021 will go toward support services to cover transportation costs, food service and other district-wide support positions.
Garrett has projected enrollment as 402.18 full time student equivalents. There were 391.30 students enrolled last September and the school district finished out the year with 410.78, nine more than they had the month before.
“Time will tell,” Garrett said. “Hopefully the number is close or it’s a little low.”
Enrollment numbers affect the budget. If his estimate is too high, they may have to cinch their belts a little tighter.
Editor's note: Jamie Cothren was misidentified in early publication of this article. Her name has been corrected here.