School district budget will balance, for now

The flow of federal money into local schools takes a curious path, Wayne Lindberg says.

“It’s called laundering,” the finance and operations manager for the Bremerton School District said at the school board meeting June 18. “The federal government puts money in one of the state’s pockets and it comes out of the other pocket as state money.”

The light-hearted remark, explaining where the state was getting the stimulus funds it is giving to schools, gleaned laughs and claps and set the tone of the meeting, scheduled to allow the district to present its preliminary 2009-10 school budget to the board.

Times are tight for everyone across the globe, especially school districts, and BSD is no exception. With state and local governments struggling to find funds for services, the cuts are being made and schools are suffering alongside many other government programs.

Items like I-728 funds, which were expected to be more than $2 million, came in at only $675,000 this year. Unfortunately, balancing a budget with very little positive cash flow is forcing BSD to make a few cuts as well.

Funds for substitute teachers are probably going to be slashed and could total about $100,000; special-education funds are proposed to be cut by $152,000; the transportation budget will likely be slashed by $100,000; the facilities budget will probably take a $50,000 reduction; central office and administration money can be reduced by $174,000; some staff cuts, like the security guard at Renaissance Alternative High School, could be made to free up $100,000; and energy savings of $90,000 are achievable through programs run by Puget Sound Energy, Lindberg said.

The finalized budget will be presented to the board Thursday, July 9 and a community forum is slated for Monday, July 13 in the conference room at the district building on Marion Avenue. The board will formally adopt the budget Aug. 6, before the new school year begins.

If the economy does not rebound quickly, BSD will be facing severe hardship when the White House stimulus money runs out in 2011, according to BSD. To some, this fact is more daunting than the current state of the budget, but school board member DeWayne Boyd wants the board to maintain its focus on the current situation.

“We can’t worry about two or three years from now,” he said. “We need to worry about this year.”

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