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CK District set to lose even more impact aid
Central Kitsap School District lost more than $8 million annually in impact aid for school years 2010 to 2014. Now, as the effects of national sequestration are set to hit federally-funded programs, the district stands to lose a substantial chunk of what remains.
The U.S. Department of Education, which administers impact aid to school districts throughout the nation, is set to reduce funding by 5 percent due to across-the-board cuts. For Central Kitsap those cuts will equal a loss of more than $200,000 this year and even more next year.
Superintendent Greg Lynch said that the effect of the cuts won’t hurt the district as much as they could. According to Lynch, the administration and school board thought cuts might be coming so they preemptively scaled back the budget for this school year.
“We wound up cutting somewhere around a half-a-million dollars,” Lynch said, going on to mention cuts the district has had to make in recent budgets. “We’re getting pretty good at that cause we’ve done it the last four or five years.”
A number of programs were impacted by the preemptive cut, according to Lynch. Class sizes were increased, interventions for at-risk students were impacted, summer school programs were reduced and a number of vacated staff positions were not filled.
Impact aid funding was already volatile, as the amount districts received fluctuates from year to year depending on the number of districts that apply for funding and how many students qualify.
Despite planning ahead for the losses this school year, if Congress doesn’t change across-the-board cuts the district could lose the same amount of impact aid next year, as well as another $225,000 in Title I, special education funds and other federally funded programs.
Central Kitsap is in the process of creating its budget for the upcoming school year. Lynch said since the majority of funding comes from the state, the district usually waits to set its own budget until after legislators in Olympia have set the state budget.
In the face of these drastic cuts in federal funding, Lynch said he isn’t worried the district will have to make the same sacrifices in the upcoming budget cycle.
“I’m assuming that we’re going to be in the positive in terms of cash from the state for the first time in a long time,” Lynch said. “I actually anticipate being in the black for next year, based on what we’re hearing out of Olympia.”
Lynch said the talk coming out of Olympia indicates a positive upswing for schools in Washington state due in part to the State Supreme Court putting pressure on the legislature.
That upswing would come at a time when schools in the area have been trimming their budgets year after year. According to Lynch, Central Kitsap’s budget has been reduced systematically over the last few years.
“It’s amazing to me we’ve done as well as we have considering the amount of dollars we’ve cut out of our budget the last four or five years,” Lynch said.
In spite of his optimism, Lynch said they haven’t been able to save everything from the chopping block after losing heavy impact aid. The district has more than $120 million in back-logged maintenance and repairs, according to Lynch.
“If you can’t do preventative maintenance, you ride it until it breaks and when you break it it’s probably going to cost you a whole lot more than it would have if you’d maintained it,” Lynch said. “You can go a relatively short amount of time … but the longer you go the more expensive it’s going to get.”