Budget difficulties return for Medical Lake in 2012-13
By JAMES EIK
In the first meeting after the end of the school year, the Medical Lake school board received both the good and bad side of finances.
The 2012-13 school year is expected to end in a $650,000 budget deficit, which, despite cost-cutting would result in the district's fund balance dropping from $1 million to $350,000. In a public hearing preceding the Tuesday, June 26 meeting, business manager Don Johnson said the remaining money in the fund balance was concerning.
“That's only about 2 percent of our budget, and that's lower than I'm comfortable with,” he said.
Superintendent Pam Veltri said the district has lost around $4 million in revenues over the past five budget cycles. Most of the decrease, she said, can be attributed to federal impact aid and state funding reductions. In addition, the district has lost around 600 full-time students over the past 10 years.
Cost cutting actions are already moving forward, with the board approving layoffs of some classified staff at Tuesday's meeting. More than 80 percent of the district's budget goes toward salaries and benefits.
Veltri also said population on Fairchild Air Force Base had declined faster than surrounding communities, which attributed to the loss of students in the district.
On the other hand, the district received a three-year $1.4 million grant to fund components of its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses. High school vice principal Darlene Starr said the grant is meant to be directed at military impacted students, but any student in the district can participate in programs, which will stress professional development.
Among the programs planned through the grant include extended learning opportunities, some Saturday camps and expanding a robotics group to the elementary schools.
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.