White River School District faces $1.2 million shortfall

Down approximately $1.2 million in state funding, the White River School District anticipates covering those losses with increased levy dollars combined with reductions from retirements and resignations in positions that were not filled. District leaders are also planning across-the-board reductions in building and department budgets.

District business office manager Mona Moan presented the school board with a roughly $38 million preliminary budget during a meeting. The board expects to hear public comment and approve the budget at its Aug. 25 meeting.

Basic education expenditures are up and federal stimulus money is decreasing, although not completely gone. The district is also expecting 100 fewer students.

A difference this year is the way the state is asking the district to report its fund balance. A number of the items that once fell under the unreserved fund balance, now must be broken out into their own entries.

To start, some of the district’s reserves will be reported as carry over. The district is expected to carry over a $220,000 reserve fund for Career and Technical Education and grant money received in 2009-10 that has not been spent. According to Moan, these funds can only be spent for the reasons that they are given to the district to use. CTE funds for the CTE program and grants are given to the district with a grant agreement that specifically states how the funds can be used. The $220,000 is an estimate that Moan will update prior to the budget adoption if needed. The district is anticipating additional CTE students this year.

There is also a $250,000 reserve set aside to complete the Foothills and Wilkeson elementary school’s fiber optic project. This money must also be presented separately as assigned to other capital projects. The project has been started, but will not be complete in time to pay all the bills by Aug. 31. The project is designed to bring the buildings up to be compatible with the district’s system to prevent computer crashes.

Also part of the reporting system is $1.8 million in what is called a committed minimum fund balance. This is money set aside to cover, for example, payroll if state funding were to not arrive. Most districts White River’s size set a reserve goal of around 5 percent. It, too, has to fall into its own category.

The refined reporting system leaves the district with an unassigned fund balance of $54,000.

The district will be able, through deprecation money, to purchase four, 30-passenger buses for $300,000. The district receives money from the state for buses as they age. The purpose is so districts can update the fleet on an ongoing basis. Once buses reach a certain age, the state no longer contributes to the fund.

Copies of the budget are available for public review at the district office during regular business hours.

In other business, the board:

• was presented information regarding White River High School’s Advance Placement government curriculum. The AP program has added four more classes in the past three years to bring the total to nine. AP U.S. Government was one of the first courses offered. The program has seen much success. This year, teacher Jer Argo had a 70 percent pass rate. Students must score a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP exam to earn college credit. Wednesday night study sessions with teachers is helping, Argo said.

• approved the WRHS student handbook. It will be available on line.

• approved the surplus of two portables used for Collins Junior High on the Rainier School campus. According to Facilities and Transportation Services Director Rick LaBoyne, the 10-year-old portables that were purchased with a grant are not operationally necessary at this time or fiscally practical to relocate and Washington State DSHS is interested in them. 10 year old builindgs were originally purchased with a grant.

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