From Stanwood-Camano School District
In August, the School Board adopted this current school year’s budget. It called for receiving about $86.4 million in funds from various sources — generally broken down as local, state, and federal. Expenditures were forecast at about $90.6 million — with about 89% of that being employees’ salaries and benefits.
The about $4 million gap between expenditures and revenue will mostly be covered by using money in the general fund balance — which was at $10.1 million to begin the school year. If all $4 million is used, the general fund will end this fiscal year with about $6 million, which is approaching the minimum amount allowed by board policy.
Knowing these constraints, the school district and staff have been working all school year to preemptively cut costs where possible.
A few examples of reductions this year include:
Tightening operating budgets, used for things like supplies, services and travel
Reducing printing and mailing costs
Analyzing all positions that become vacant and replacing only if necessary
However, there are some limitations to what can be cut due to factors such as state laws, safety and security of students and staff, and employee bargaining agreements, for a few examples.
Meanwhile, some state and federal money the district receives is set to decrease or expire while costs are increasing.
As the district plans for the upcoming 2023-24 school year, staff are working to craft a balanced budget that fulfills all the requirements of laws, regulations and contracts. Several uncertainties remain, chiefly if the state Legislature adjusts any of the school funding formulas.
We are working closely with our colleagues around the state and in Olympia to stay up-to-date and adapt the budget as necessary. We are not alone in these efforts, as many school districts are making reductions in preparation for next year’s budget.
Bottom line is that district staff are preparing for more budget cuts, and difficult choices will be made. We are currently planning for $8.5 million in reductions to balance the 2023-24 budget. While this is substantial, we have encountered and persevered through difficult times before and are confident we can do it again.
A lot of factors could change the reduction amount between now and when the budget is finally adopted in August, such as additional funding from the state legislative process or more savings in the current year that carry forward into the 2023-24 budget year.
In next week’s budget report, we will outline some of the efforts underway to address this matter in the current legislative session.