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School board reviews new budget

LANGLEY — After welcoming new high school principal Rob Prosch and elementary school principal Jamie Boyd to the district, the school board got down to business Thursday night: money.

Superintendent Fred McCarthy told board members the budget is lean, with not much fat.

“If there is an unexpected rise in the number of students who show up in the fall, we’ll be able to fund some extra projects, but not now,” he said.

The numbers tell the tale. District-wide, there will be 97 fewer kids going to South Whidbey schools, down from 1,870 in May to 1,797 projected to enroll this fall.

The largest drop will be at Langley Middle School, which will lose 41 students from last year. High school enrollment will drop by 27, and at Bayview School, there will be 11 fewer students.

Combined, the primary and intermediate schools will gain 12 at the higher grades, although K-2 has a net loss of 15.

McCarthy and business manager Dan Poolman said the district is in excellent financial shape overall.

“Our main fund is balanced, we have the money needed to improve teaching and learning and we provided appropriate raises to our employees,” McCarthy said.

Total projected revenues and expenditures equalize at approximately $18 million.

Of that, more than $14 million will go to salaries and employee benefits. The balance will pay for school supplies, professional services such as counselors, psychologists and nurses, plus travel and equipment.

To pay for those salaries and everything else, the district will receive $9 million from the state based on the district’s enrollment plus $248,315 for special education. Local taxes add more than $3.4 million.

The remainder of the $18 million in revenue comes from a host of education-based programs financed by the state and federal government.

Board president Rich Parker said that every category and line item has been reviewed in detail.

“There’s little cushion,” he said. “But as the year goes on we have the freedom to re-allocate funds as necessary.”

One example came as the nutrition committee recommended that the district consider hiring a full-time professional expert to manage the cafeterias, menus and food services.

“The goal is to provide children with life-long healthy eating habits,” nutritionist Greg Wisont said. “We feel the key is to integrate nutrition with the entire education program.”

There’s no money in the budget now, despite the board’s unanimous view that food service needs to improve in each building.

McCarthy said the program is a great idea.

“Money will flow to it because of that,” he noted.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

Community Events, April 2014

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