The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Schools deal with new levy lid

 

January 24, 2019



Superintendents at Wahkiakum School District and Naselle/Grays River Valley School District were asked to respond to how the Washington State legislature’s new system to fund schools and cap local levies at $1.50 per $1,000 will affect their budgets.

Wahkiakum School District:

“There is an equity issue in the way the state implemented the McCleary decision,” WSD Superintendent Brent Freeman said this week.

“Wahkiakum School District is one of many small school districts that are negatively impacted by the way the legislature developed the funding formula. The effect of this new funding methodology leaves the revenue stream in Wahkiakum School District several hundred thousand dollars short of expected expenditures. After significant consideration, we elected to make programatic cuts in several areas that had the least direct impact on our students."

These include:

- Cutting our technology budget by $100,000;

- Reducing our Maintenance and Grounds expenditures by $40,000;

- Reducing our Custodial expenses by $10,000;

- Improving our utility conservation by $10,000, and

- Reducing our consumable office supplies.

"We have no plans to reduce staff and have taken measures to ensure that the financial shortfalls have minimal impact on the kids. That said, these are short-term solutions and are not all sustainable. The district, in coordination with other area school districts and our area legislators are working hard to find a long term sustainable solution.”

Naselle/Grays River Valley School District:

“The levy cap at $1.50 results in an annual loss of approximately $450,000 for our District,” distric Superintendent Lisa Nelson said, “give or take depending on things such as inflation, changes in assessed valuation, etc.

"That is obviously a significant amount of money for a small district such as ours. This was also precipitated by a change in wages for pretty much all schools across the state. These two patterns create a perfect storm blowing in the wrong direction: less levy dollars and more personnel costs.

"To combat this, we have put a couple things in place already and expect similar patterns to follow:

"we have laid off one employee and trimmed the hours of another;

"we combined bus routes to reduce by one route;

"we do not intend to fill a few positions when they become vacant either through retirements or basic attrition, and

"we are pursuing grants at a higher level than ever before.

"Fortunately, we have a strong fund balance which will delay some of the major layoffs that could ultimately occur. We hope to be able to handle much of our challenges internally either through less spending on extra-curricular activities, which are solely funded with levy dollars, and reductions in staff through general attrition or retirements.

"One thing that has helped with revenue is an accounting change at OSPI. Unlike years past, districts will now receive timber revenue that was previously withheld from their monthly appointment (dollars for having students enrolled). This could be a significant change going forward so long as logging continues. As you know, we have seen significant reductions there too. Much of the land in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties has been set aside as protected areas for shorebirds, so the Habitat Conservation Plan does impact those districts in which shorebirds frequently find habitat.”

 

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