MSD budget 0818

The enrollment numbers for Marysville for the past three years and the projected 2021-22 budget enrollment. Marysville staff are using a conservative estimate with enrollment dropping again.

 

 

Marysville school staff presented a draft of their proposed 2021-22 budget to the school board on Aug. 11.

The proposed budget for 2021-22 is up to $188 million for the district, up from $176 million last year.

The biggest cause of the increase to this year’s budget is ESSER funds (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund), which are federal dollars coming to help school districts recover from the pandemic. Those funds will continue to pay for food programs.

“This year we were doing the summer program where we were able to feed everyone,” said David Cram, executive director of finance. “We’ll be continuing that model this school year."

Free school lunches has been a policy some have pushed at the federal level for a while now, and how long that will continue remains to be seen.

“I really love free lunches for students across the district,” said school board member Jake Murray. “If that is something we can maintain, that is something I would want to see. It is a very big boon for a lot of kids."

The school district will not collect lunch fees like normal, however Cram thinks it is likely the federal funds will make up for that.

“The federal reimbursement rate is very competitive,” he said.

The district’s ESSER funds are also going toward other projects such as HVAC maintenance and upgrades.

Those dollars are only currently scheduled to be received for the 2021-22 year, although the timeline to use them is longer than that. Any staffing improvement or ongoing cost would have to be paid some other way in future years though.

Other revenue sources for the district include the voter-approved Capital Projects and Technology levy.

“About half of those funds will go to technology and the other half will go to capital projects,” said Cram.

Next year those purchases will likely be new Chromebooks and some roofing maintenance for schools.

The district also receives state funds given for the depreciation of buses and are predicting about $730,000.

“The only thing we can do with that money is buy yellow buses,” said Cram.

The biggest source of funds for the district is tied to their student enrollment.

Enrollment has been dropping for several years in the district, although Marysville saw an even larger drop than normal last year as they had 400 less students.

That drop has been fairly common for other school districts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The other districts I’ve been in have been in the exact same situation with a pretty significant loss of enrollment,” said Cram, who is a recent addition to the Marysville School District. “We’re hoping that the more normalcy we’re seeing in the fall, the more comfortable people will be bringing their kids back to school."

Cram and other staff are building next year’s budget under the assumption that another big drop in enrollment is coming.

“If we see our enrollment pop up, that’s going to see our revenue go up, as well as some costs that go up,” he said. “We try to project out next year, but there are always unknowns."

There are contingency funds built into the budget if enrollment has a bounce back.

School districts get paid from the state and federal government based on their enrollment numbers.

“We get a limited amount of revenue we can use as a district,” said board member Chris Nation, however, increased enrollment means increased flexibility with funds.

Even before the pandemic, Marysville schools enrollment numbers were decreasing and the board has been attempting to find out why.

“We just continue to see the numbers go down every year,” said Nation.

However,  the cause may be something out of the district’s hands. “This could be just a case that we don’t have ample housing here,” he said.

Nation also said he hopes that the state legislature will make changes to help equalize district funding across the state.

Because districts rely on local tax funds for a large portion of their funding, the wealth of a school district is often directly dependent on the wealth of the district’s residents.

Marysville is “property value poor” compared to districts such as Bellevue or Lake Washington, said Nation.

“They are able to afford a lot more than we can,” while maintaining tax rates of less than half of Marysville’s, he said. “These are the things that need to be changed and addressed … and I know it’s a big talk in Olympia."

The school board will consider and may approve the budget during their Aug. 18 meeting.

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