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The nuts and bolts of a school budget

The budget is a plan, and like any plan, can change — especially during difficult economic times.

The Central Kitsap School District held a budget seminar Nov. 2 to better educate the community on the workings of a $100 million school budget.

Led by the district finance director and business services director, the seminar explained how the budget works to five citizens interested in the process.

Essentially, the Central Kitsap School District has five different funds. There is the general fund, the transportation vehicle fund, the debt service fund and the associated student body fund. The general fund covers the expenses of operating schools and student programs. The transportation vehicle fund is primarily for school buses and the fuel needed to carry students to and from school and various events. The capital projects fund is money to repair and renovate buildings as well as upgrade technology.

In February, voters approved of a $58 million capital projects levy.

For the debt service fund, taxes are collected twice a year to pay off the 1992 bond. The bond, similar to a loan, cost the district $30 million in interest alone and will be paid off in December.

The associated student body fund is the most restricted fund — its money raised by students, parents or teachers — and what is raised during the school year must be spent during that same school year. The ASB money cannot be used on curriculum-based material and must be spent on cultural, athletic, recreational or social events.

Many who handle public budgets say it's important for the public to remember that money from one fund cannot be spent for other uses.

David McVicker, the district's finance director, says a common question he receives from parents is why the district does not sell the now-closed Seabeck and Tracyton elementary schools. The two schools closed four years ago and $1.5 million is saved by the elimination of those programs.

"We cannot take money from the sale of property and use it for whatever we want in the general fund," he says adding that it is against state law.

Sources of revenue

The sources of revenue for the general fund are threefold. There is money that comes from the federal, state and local level. For the 2011-2012 school year, about 54 percent of revenue is expected to come from the state level.

However, there are many programs that are not considered as basic education by the state. Kindergarten to fourth grade enhanced staffing ratio is non-basic education and the school district saw a $1.3 million reduction from the state for the program mid-year last school year. The program monitors class sizes. Full-day kindergarten is also non-basic education and through the Department of Defense Education Activity grant the district received, full-day kindergarten will be covered at some of the elementary schools.

One source of local "revenue" is food services, which is completely self-sufficient, said Monica Hunsaker, the district's business services director. Food services brings in $1.8 million.

Investment earnings, tuition, fees and donations amounts to $2.1 million in local revenue.

In 2012, $17.64 million will be collected from this year's capital levy.

Expenditures

For the 2011-2012 school year general fund expenditures are divided into four categories including central administration, school building administration, other school support and teaching and teaching support.

Nearly 71 percent of district expenditures goes toward teaching and teaching support. The rest is split at about 6 percent for central administration, about 5 percent for school building administration and about 18 percent for other school support.

Central and school building administration includes administrators but also anyone who supports the office.

For the 2009-2010 school year, 11.7 percent of expenditures went toward central and building administration, compared to 12.7 percent in the Bremerton School District and 13.2 percent in the South Kitsap School District. Hunsaker and McVicker say they often hear comments regarding cutting more at the administration side but they say that getting rid of those positions will have an impact on the classroom because there would be more responsibilities for the teachers other than teaching.

With estimated cuts of about $6.8 million for the 2012-2013 school year, the district has many decisions to make on spending and cutting.

Following the results of the October student enrollment count, a new budget shortfall may be presented to the school board on the Nov. 22 board meeting, says McVicker.

 

"It's all about enrollment," McVicker said. "We don't want to do something that will send them somewhere else."

 

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