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MSD discusses proposed budget


August 16, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Marysville School District board member Tom Albright, left, and the district's director of finance Mike Sullivan go over the proposed 2017-18 budget for the district during a special workshop on Aug. 10.

Marysville School District officials talked about their proposed budget for the upcoming school year at a special work session on Aug. 10.

Finance department members at the district had to work quickly to present a budget to the district's board after the Washington state legislature's late sessions to work on budgets.

The budget is on the Aug. 21 meeting agenda and the board hoped to look at it in depth before approving it during that meeting.

"I really appreciate the fact that people have pulled this together so quickly," said Pete Lundberg, president of the Marysville School District board of directors.

"Obviously it's important for the board to understand as much of this as we can," he said.

Because the state legislature did not pass a capital projects budget, some of the items are more nebulous with the school's budget.

"I was hoping to get some match from certain grants I thought we could take advantage of, but right now we don't know if we're going to have that since they didn't pass the House capital budget," said Mike Sullivan, director of finance for the Marysville School District.

Although the Marysville school officials project a decrease in enrollment, the 2017-18 proposed budget increases the total budget from $142 million to $151 million.

Some of the increased funds come from the state, although many of those sources require money spent on specific items.

"We're in times of declining enrollment, so although we're getting more money from the state there are strings attached," said Superintendent Becky Berg.

Most of the increased expenses come from cost of living increases, salaries and insurance increases.

The rising economy will also increase fees for contract services, said Sullivan.

"There are companies out there that have decided to not increase their fees for years and have decided to do so now because of the economy improving," he said.

He noted the Northwest Regional Data Center as one example, which is increasing their fees for the first time in about a decade.

Most of the budget is in employee staffing though.

Certificated staff salaries (mostly teachers and principals) make up 42.1 percent of the budget while classified staff salaries make up 16.5 percent of the budget.

Employee benefits make up another 22.9 percent of the budget.

Next year's projected enrollment estimates about 200 students less than the 2016-17 school year.

The district has been losing enrollment every year for almost a decade now.

Through the reduction the school is looking at cutting back around 12 full-time employed staff at the secondary school level, but class sizes across the district could actually be getting smaller.

"Our ratio of students to teachers should be a little bit lower because the state is funding a little smaller class size," said Sullivan.

Sullivan noted that in some categories, because of the small number of teachers, a reduction can look like a large drop-off if one teacher is let go.

That was the case for Career and Technical Education.

"For example, Arts and Technology High School doesn't have enough students enrolled and we have to cut manufacturing," said Berg.

"That's what happens in declining enrollment, you cut stuff you don't want to cut," she said.

Those reduction are in proportion to others across the district though.

"CTE was reduced as part of the total reductions in the same proportion as the general population," said Sullivan.

School board member Chris Nation worried that reductions like that are cutting into student choice though.

"Are we limiting what they have an ability to get to?" he asked. "Do the kids go there with an expectation that certain classes will be there and now they're not?"

The district hopes to look at their secondary school structure this year and noted that this is one of the questions with the current Small Learning Community model used by Getchell High School and others in the district.

"These are the challenges that we're going to be talking about this year as we envision what the secondary schools are going to be like," he said.

Lundberg noted that the district has to strike a balance between spending and what is best for all students in Marysville.

"Everybody wants you to be fiscally responsible until their program gets nailed, and then they don't think it's quite as important," he said.

The Marysville School District board of directors plans to approve or reject the proposed budget for 2017-18 during their meeting on Aug. 21.


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