SKSD Budget Available to the Public July 10

Correction, July 2
Enrollment Increase Expected: Terri Patton of the South Kitsap School District was misquoted in an article that ran Friday in the Kitsap Sun. Patton did not say that a projected enrollment decline would be a factor in a continued budget cuts beyond the upcoming school year. “While it is obvious that enrollment has historically declined, I did not say I expected that trend to continue,” Patton said. “On the contrary, unlike Central Kitsap School District, we expect enrollment to grow.” Patton cites a demographics study done by the district in 2005 which shows that, based on new housing developments in South Kitsap, enrollment would grow over the next several years.

If you’re up for a little light summer reading, the South Kitsap School District budget probably isn’t the first thing you’ll reach for.

A story on the budget is on the Kitsap Sun’s Web site now.

According to Terri Patton, the district’s business office assistant superintendent, very few people take advantage of the roughly month long window of opportunity the district gives the public each year to examine and comment on the budget. A summary of the preliminary budget (from here, click on June 20 board meeting; then click on “presentations”; then click on “preliminary 2007-08 budget) can be found on the district’s Web site. The proposed budget will be available to the public July 10, and the school board will hold a public hearing Aug. 15. If they don’t see the need to make adjustments, they could adopt it that night. Otherwise they have until Aug. 30.

This year, as in years past, the district will be making some hefty cuts, about $1 million worth, according to Patton. To help make up for an estimated $1.7 million total shortfall, the district will also make a number of budget adjustments, shifting funds from one source to another and identifying ways to be more efficient, Patton said.

All of this is getting to be old hat for the district, which has made over $5 million in cuts since 2003. Patton cited flat enrollment, inadequate state funding, inflation on fixed costs and the fact that as property values go up, the district is eligible for fewer levy equalization dollars from the state. The next opportunity the board will have to tap into the larger tax base, should they choose to ask for a higher levy, will be in 2009, Patton said.

Despite the cuts, no reduction in staffing or closure of facilities is expected at this time, Patton said. In fact the district is adding a few new programs, including a partnership with the South Kitsap Port Orchard Boys & Girls Club, an early childhood parent training program, Ready! For Kindergarten, and an online component for the Explorer Academy, the district’s home school support program. The district will also need to spend $55,000 for before school supervision on the newly instituted Late Start Wednesdays, when teachers will have “collaborative time.”

Patton said she’d like to see more public scrutiny of the budget, and she’s avail able to answer questions. E-mail is probably the best way to reach her. Here’s her contact information: patton@skitsap.wednet.edu; (360) 874-7012.

Happy reading.

One thought on “SKSD Budget Available to the Public July 10

  1. Clicking this link will take you to the “pdf” file of the preliminary budget.

    On page 5 of 23, you will find a graph showing the approximate increases in total property valuation in each year from 2001 through 2007.

    According to that graph, in each of the years 2005 and 2006, total property valuation increased by more than 15 percent.

    In 2007 — for just this year, not for some cumulative period — the increase was about 24 percent according to the graph.

    Taking the actual figures from the county assessor’s web page, total property valuation increased by 14.95 percent in 2005, 16.8 percent in 2006, and 24.18 percent in 2007.

    It is not correct to say, as the article does, that total property valuation increased by “nearly 10 percent since 2005.”

    The actual yearly increases in 2005 through 2007 have all been more than 10 percent — so it isn’t even a matter of confusing an annual increase with a cumulative increase.

    I cannot figure out where you got the 10 percent figure.

    The effect of soaring property valuation in the past 3 years has been to reduce our tax rate to a level that makes it appear we don’t need as much of a “local effort” to provide local M&O levy funding to the school district.

    The “local effort assistance” funding from the state (which we usually call “levy equalization” funding) uses the tax rate needed to add 12 percent to SKSD’s regular state and federal funding. Comparing that tax rate to the statewide average tax rate for a 12-percent M&O levy provides a ratio used to determine how much levy equalization funding SKSD will receive.

    Since SKSD total property valuation increased by so much in each of the past 3 years, our 12-percent levy rate went down relative to the statewide average. So, our levy equalization went down, too.

    It’s obviously not a perfect system of determining how much “local effort assistance” is needed, since total personal income didn’t increase anywhere near the large increases in property valuation.

    But it is certainly better than nothing from the viewpoint of local taxpayers.

    It causes a problem for the school district, since — as the article points out — SKSD cannot increase the levy between elections to offset the reduction in levy equalization funding.

    When the levy equalization funding goes down, SKSD has to adjust their spending plans to make up the difference. (It was obviously nicer to adjust upward in some past years, when levy equalization funding went up; but the system necessarily includes some “downs” to go with those “ups.”)

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