Board Action Update

School Board Action Update
Posted on 01/22/2021
During its regularly scheduled business meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21, the School Board approved several items from a three-year budget adjustment plan that included a combination of cuts and enhancements (increases in revenue).

Following a request for more information during the board’s Jan. 7 workshop, administration presented additional details about Reading Recovery, elementary band and orchestra, middle and high school class size and the recommendation to close Crestview Elementary. A summary of input from virtual staff and community budget information sessions was also shared.

Following the presentation and discussion, the school board:

  • Approved budget adjustments for the district (unanimous)
  • Approved budget adjustments districtwide (unanimous)
  • Approved the following budget adjustments for elementary schools
    • Reduction in a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) (unanimous)
    • Restructure of office assistant and media clerk hour allocations (unanimous)
    • Eliminate Gateway third grade section for the 2021-22 school year due to lack of testing in fall 2020 (unanimous)
    • Move band and orchestra to begin in the middle school (4 to 3)
  • The School Board also directed district administration to restructure reading interventions at the elementary level to save $500,000 over each year for the next three years.
  • Approved budget adjustments for middle schools (unanimous)
  • Approved adjustments for high schools (unanimous)
  • The School Board did not approve the process to begin considerations to close Crestview Elementary (unanimous). This recommendation was removed from the budget adjustment recommendations and will not move forward.  
  • Approved the process to begin procedures for an operating levy referendum (unanimous)
    • A motion was made to direct administration to proceed with preparations and necessary notices to conduct an operating levy referendum for the Nov. 2, 2021, election.
The School Board originally approved the budget adjustment process on Nov. 5, 2020, which resulted in the creation of a budget adjustment committee of school and department leaders. The committee developed the ideas on how to increase revenue (such as fees) and reduce expenses. The committee’s goal was to cut $18 million over the next three years. Of that $18 million, the goal was to reduce the budget by $12 million in the 2021-22 school year with other reductions for the remaining two years (2022-23 and 2023-24). The final amount resulted in $9.3 million in adjustments for the 2021-22 school year.  If voters approve an operating levy, and with sustained cuts, the three-year budget impact is estimated to be $18.7 million. 

Over the last four years, the cost of educational services in SoWashCo has continued to outpace the funding available to fully support our operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional unexpected costs, declining enrollment districtwide and uncertainty for state aid.