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White River School Board told of no-frills budget

It was a straight-forward, no-frills budget that White River School District Business Manager Mona Moan presented to the school board at its regular July 13 meeting.

The board will host a public hearing on the proposed budget during its next regular meeting, 6 p.m. Aug. 10 in the district board room. It is anticipated the board will approve the spending plan later during that session.

The $37.5 million budget is down about $538,000 from last year.

Moan said the total has decreased due to lower enrollment, the loss of class size reduction funding, reductions in alternative learning education funding and salary reductions ranging from 1.9 to 3 percent.

The district is expecting 3,673 students in the fall, a drop of more than 120 students. Moan noted the district does anticipate seeing increased Career and Technical Education students due to the addition of classes at the middle school. The district is also planning for fewer Running Start students, about 68, a decrease due to cost increases associated with those community college programs and an increase in the high school’s Advanced Placement offerings.

Moan noted the district plans to employ 216 certificated staff and 154 classified personnel. The dollars for certificated salaries, she noted, are down, but the cost of employee benefits are going up.

There will be an increase in levy funds, but the district has to roll back the 2012 levy by $221,000, Moan explained.

The district will also receive less federal funding for special education, Response to Intervention and other special programs. Federal stimulus money for special education and technology programs also has disappeared. Moan said benefits are also higher due to an increase in retirement rates.

Moan and Superintendent Tom Lockyer said the state’s new transportation funding formula also will present challenges.

“They’re counting our ridership different,” Moan said. “That’s kind of a wild card this year.”

“It will be a huge wake-up call for some parents,” Lockyer said, explaining how students who currently ride a bus, but live close to a school, may have to walk. “But we have a year,” he said.

The district is starting with a $3.6 million fund balance and, of that total, $1.2 million is not assigned as carryover, debt service or committed to reserves, Moan told the board. Revenues are expected to come in at around $36.4 million and that $1.2 million difference will cover the projected shortfall this year.

Moan also reviewed the district’s other funds. The capital projects fund includes some timber revenue from the district’s Carbonado and Easton properties; expenditures are for additional roofing work and technology upgrades at the middle school and White River Alternative Programs campus. There is also about $20,000 designated for implementing the district’s online testing system.

The transportation vehicle fund budget includes spending $275,000 to purchase three buses.

In other business, the board:

• increased elementary lunch prices a dime. Moan explained the 10 cent increase from $2.40 to $2.50 was a federal compliance issue.

“Heidi (the district’s nutrition supervisor) did not want to do it unless the feds made us do it,” Moan said.

• approved slight district directorship boundary changes, suggested by Sammamish DataSystems and based on Census 2010 data.

• noted the district’s Administrative Institute is set for Aug. 1-3.

• hired Jane Aronson as assistant principal at Glacier Middle School. Aronson comes from an internship with Langley Middle School on Whidbey Island. Lockyer said she clearly understands the collaborative structure the district is building. She is a Seattle University graduate with administrative creditials from the University of Washington in the Danforth program. She worked with the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in school improvement and has national experience with TeachScape.

• hired Nickolas Hedman as principal at Wilkeson Elementary. Hedman comes from the Puyallup School District where he was the assistant principal at two elementary schools. Lockyer noted he has a strong math background.

• accepted the resignation of Foothills Elementary assistant secretary Jenny Peloli. She had been with the district for 25 years.

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