Cheney Free Press -


By James Eik
Staff Reporter 

Budget still a concern in MLSD


The year-end budget report for the 2011-12 school year continued difficult financial news in the Medical Lake School District.

The district saw its revenues decrease by $1.5 million from 2010-11, although almost all of the decrease came from the end of federal stimulus money and Impact Aid reductions. A drop of 88 FTE students, however, proved to be another struggle. Last year, the district recorded 1,805 students, including those taking part in the Running Start program.

At the Tuesday, Oct. 23 school board meeting, business manager Don Johnson said a $499,000 drop in the general fund balance wasn’t entirely unexpected. But, he said the pattern isn’t sustainable for much longer. The district’s fund balance was at $1.3 million going into the 2012-13 school year.

“We need to get that turned around, and we will,” Johnson said. “But sooner would be good.”

Johnson said a 45 percent Impact Aid lot payment came in at just the right time for the district. Typically, the December and January months are tight in terms of the budget, but the payment helped continue a strong financial background. The payment marked one of the earliest times Medical Lake has seen funds from the federal program.

“We haven’t ever had to borrow money to meet our expenses,” he said. “That was great that they were able to push that out with the clout of sequestration hanging over us. That helps out our cash flow, so we’re going to get through this year without borrowing money.”

Superintendent Pam Veltri said complete Impact Aid payments used to come, but that changed over time as the amount received simultaneously declined.

The school board passed a resolution in opposition to potential cuts stemming from the U.S. Congress sequestration that would have a widespread negative effect on the district. Of the district’s student population around 47 percent are connected to the federal funding source, which faces a potential $100 million cut at the federal level.

Other federal programs including Title I and IDEA would also see a 8 to 9 percent reduction in the 2013-14 school year. The resolution, Veltri said, included the Title I and IDEA program references in an effort to appeal to all school districts, as their funding would also be in jeopardy. A combined effort, she said, could make for a stronger voice when the resolution is sent to Congress.

Now-retired tennis head coach Leroy Lemaster was at the meeting to thank a number of district administrators, staff, coaches and community members. He said the repaired tennis courts at the high school were beautiful, and that students will enjoy playing tennis on them next spring. Lemaster was head coach for 1965 to 1968, and then returned to the position in 1992.

James Eik can be reached at


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