SKsd Board: No New Bond Through 2008

The board must address a half-million budget deficit.
The South Kitsap School District Board of Directors will not pursue a bond or capital projects levy in the upcoming school year, school board president Patty Henderson announced at a budget study session Wednesday.
“It’s not for lack of desire,” said school board member Kathryn Simpson.
Voters on March 13 turned down a $163.2 million bond proposal to build a second high school, replace South Colby Elementary and provide major technology and maintenance funding for all schools. Board members maintain the needs are still there, but their focus right now is just keeping the district afloat.
“Our concern is passing the levy in 2009. That’s what drives our district,” said Henderson.


The board is in the early stages of setting a budget for the 2007-08 school year, and it appears they will have to make about $500,000 in cuts.
“There’s still a lot of crunching to do, and we’re still at the guestimate stage,” said Terri Patton, business office assistant superintendent.
A preliminary budget is due in Mid-July. The board will approve the final budget at its Aug. 15 meeting.
South Kitsap has been routinely trimming its budget — a total of nearly $5.5 million over the past three years, said Patton. Rising costs — especially the price of fuel — factor strongly into the deficit, she said.
District enrollment will remain flat, with possibly a slight increase, in contrast to Central Kitsap, where a sharp decline in enrollment is forcing $2.19 (???) million in cuts for the upcoming year. Declining enrollment is a problem countywide, Patton said.
In addition, South Kitsap has lost some money the state pays to help poorer districts offset the effect of low property values on levy funding. The decline in state “levy equalization” is the result of South Kitsap’s rapidly rising property values, which showed a 10 percent spike between 2006 and 2007. Assessed values have risen nearly 20 percent since 2001.
But the biggest problem, according to Superintendent Bev Cheney, is that state spending remains inadequate to fully fund K-12 education, despite the priorities and good intentions of Gov. Chris Gregoire and the state Legislature, who promised to put “children first.”
As of Wednesday, Gregoire had taken action on all bills passed this session. Cheney, Patton and other administrators have been reviewing recent education legislation to determine the potential effects of new expenditures and mandates.
On the plus side, the district will gain from increased state spending for special education, transportation and classified (non-certificated staffing). There will also be a significant increase in I-728 funding to enhance student achievement.
But some legislation will have no effect, or a negative effect on the district, Cheney said. Funding for all-day kindergarten, for example, is targeted only to the state’s poorest districts; that’s not South Kitsap. And while state funding of a 3.7 cost-of-living increase for teachers may seem like a benefit to school districts, it will actually end up costing South Kitsap an estimated $800,000, Patton said. That’s because the district uses levy funding to pay for 104 staff positions (including 32 teachers), and, to make salaries equitable, they must match the state’s COLA with local funds.
Cheney is also concerned about the effect of so-called “unfunded mandates,” laws that required action from school districts without funding to support them.
Cheney said local legislators, including Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, have offered to meet with her to go over the recent session and see the trickle-down effect of bills they’ve worked on.

2 thoughts on “SKsd Board: No New Bond Through 2008

  1. I don’t see how you could say that property values have increased by only 20 percent since 2001:
    “In addition, South Kitsap has lost some money the state pays to help poorer districts offset the effect of low property values on levy funding. The decline in state “levy equalization” is the result of South Kitsap’s rapidly rising property values, which showed a 10 percent spike between 2006 and 2007. Assessed values have risen nearly 20 percent since 2001.”

    Total property valuation in SKSD has doubled since 2001.

    Total valuation increased by 24% from 2006 to 2007.

    We are not a “poorer” district.

    The tax rate needed to add the first 12 percent to the district’s funding via the M&O excess levy has gone down since 2001, but is still higher than the state average.

    This difference between our tax rate and the state average results from SK’s higher student-to-assessed-value ratio. And, because we have a higher tax rate than the state average, we get “local effort assistance” funding from the state to equalize part of the difference.

    Do you consider Bainbridge Island to be a “poorer” district? Their total property valuation is less than SK’s. Wouldn’t that mean they are “poorer” than poor old SK?

    Of course not, because we have more than twice as many students to support with our tax base.

    It may seem a small point, but I’ve noticed that myths like the idea of our being a “poor” district have an effect that isn’t desirable. The perpetual “no voters” claim that we are just too darn poor to afford what needs to be done.

    It just isn’t so.

  2. Bob – If you look back at what I wrote, it essentially says we are less poor (or more affluent — whateveer term you want to use) than we used to be, as evidenced by rising property values, therefore we are less eligible for dollars meant for poorer (less affluent — whatever term you want to use) districts. Chris

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