A small group of interested members of the public attended a community forum last month to see the proposed school budget for the coming year. Karen Andersen, chief financial officer of the Peninsula School District, presented.
The distribution of funds is very similar to past years –– 80 percent is for staffing. The budget reflects an increase in income of about $6.5 million. The additional money comes primarily from the increased funding from the state –– the Legislature’s response to the Washington State Supreme Court’s mandate for adequate support of education.
Increased funding will support cost of living and benefit increases for staff, more training and technical support for district initiatives, funding of kindergarten to provide full-day, five days a week for all kindergartners, and a decrease in classroom sizes for grades K-3.
The district plans to increase outreach to all residents of the district, and rather than use newspapers as a communication mechanisms but plan to send quarterly newsletters to all households.
The last school levy, passed in 2013 with its cycle ending this year, will help to fund the kindergarten expansion, to cover capital improvements (there may be need for additional space to accommodate testing and classroom portables), as well as school buses (there is a schedule to replace old buses).
A committee is now meeting to discuss recommendations for the next levy, expected to appear on the ballot in February 2016. Nearly a quarter of the school budget relies on levy funding.
When asked if there is anything controversial in this budget, Andersen replied, “No. I think that the only thing that might be controversial will be the possible response of the Supreme Court to what the state Legislature has budgeted. For that, time will tell.”
A public hearing was held on Aug. 13 with the school board approving the budget as presented.
The slides from the forum are available on the district website HERE