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Revised school district budget ready for passage

In spite of the struggle to balance a budget that included staff layoffs, most programs have been spared from cuts in the South Whidbey School District’s projected budget for 2005-06.

The new budget has been trimmed down to reflect fewer students and staff, but dollars have been added to the district’s rainy day account.

In budgeting for the 2005-06 school year, South Whidbey School District officials based expenditures on an enrollment of 1,873 students, and the equivalent of 13 fewer teachers and 10 fewer classified employees.

Since early spring, administrators have been crunching numbers to balance the budget while facing cuts in state spending.

Business manager Ben Thomas said the budget team developed a good budget while protecting most school programs.

Next year’s revenue budget is estimated at $16.8 million, with expenditures of $16.6 million. The budget includes $1 million in grants the district expects to receive. The fund balance, or reserve, is projected to hit $750,000 in August 2006.

“The projected grant money is added to both the revenue and expenditure budgets, so it’s a wash, if we don’t get the money.” Thomas said.

“Grant dollars are incorporated into the budget now, so if they come through the district has the authority to spend the money,” he said.

Without the grants, the estimated budget revenue budget is $15.8 million, with $15.6 million in expenditures.

District officials cut more than $1 million in expenses in the coming year’s budget, and those reductions are based on the size of the district’s student population. Of that, $400,000 is estimated to be lost in state funding.

“Some additional costs are not funded and operating costs have gone up, compounding our losses. So the amount of lost funding is more than $1 million. We got hit in a number of areas,” Thomas said.

The majority of the district budget is spent on salaries.

Total staff expenditures are $12. 5 million, compared to $13.1 million in 2004-05.

One area that was cut is in extracurricular activities.

The $300,000 stipend budget from the previous year was cut $70,000, which will impact coaches and other teacher-led extracurricular activities.

The proposed budget also includes $20,000 to conduct a superintendent search for 2006-07 school year.

Funding for highly capable students is projected to be $13,516, a small decrease of $726 from the previous year. The food service budget is $20,000 less than 2004-05.

Other lost revenue was Title 1 federal funds for student achievement and accountability and special education funding, decreased $65,000.

The district’s enrollment has been declining since the 1999 school year, when it peaked at 2,300 students.

In May 2005, the ending enrollment was 1,978.

Based on projections, enrollment is expected to continue downward, leveling off to between 1,500 and 1,600 students by the 2010-11 school year.

In 2003-04, the district’s revenue budget was $16.5 million, with expenditures of $16.3 million.

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