Cheney Free Press -


Cheney school enrollment remains above budget, headcount expectations


Enrollment in the Cheney School District, both full-time equivalent (FTE) students and actual headcounts, continues to remain strong and above counts at this time last year.

At the Feb. 26 regular Cheney school board meeting, Executive Director of Finance Kassidy Probert reported that FTE numbers for February were 4,059.44 students, a slight dip from January’s 4,061.77 but comfortably above February 2013’s figure of 3,916.06. Headcounts, actual bodies in desks, were 4,223 in February, two below January’s tally but 122 ahead of 2013 numbers.

Overall for the school year, the district is up 129.92 FTEs and 106 students over 2012-2013 numbers. Those 4,099.82 FTEs are 69.82 more than the district budgeted for in 2013-2014, resulting in about $300,000 to $400,000 in additional state revenue.

Probert told the board that expenses totaling $17,368,778 are meeting trends from prior years. Five months into the budget year that represents 40.25 percent of the budget.

Currently the school district’s beginning/ending fund balance, essentially cash on hand, is at $1,473,881 through January, compared to $1,941,492 in January 2013. Given trends in revenues and expenses, school board president Rick Mount asked Probert where he thought the fund balance would be by the end of the year, and Probert responded he expected it to be higher than last year.

“I like that,” Mount said. “That’s an A-plus answer.”

In other business, the board unanimously adopted three policies that had their first readings at the Feb. 12 meeting: No. 3226 “Interviews and Interrogations of Students on School Premises,” No. 3421 “Child Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Prevention,” and No. 3420 “Anaphylaxis Prevention and Response.” The board also unanimously passed a pair of resolutions accepting construction work at Snowdon Elementary School as complete and approving the commissioning of the newest member to the district’s facilities.

The recommendations for both resolutions came from District Director of Maintenance and Operations Jeff McClure after receiving similar recommendations from the district’s project manager, OAC, and their architects, NAC. Acceptance of the building as complete frees up retainage to be paid to the general contractor, Leone & Keeble, Inc.

The board also conducted the first reading of four policies: No. 1000 “Legal Status and Operation,” No. 1111 “Oath of Office,” No. 1230 “Duties of the Secretary,” and No. 6220 “Purchasing, Bids and Contracts Bid Requirements.” Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens told the board changes to policies 1000, 1111 and 1230 were needed to incorporate language suggested by the Washington State School Directors Association and to bring them up to date with revisions to laws in the Revised Code of Washington.

Changes to policy 6220 struck “Purchasing, Bids and Contracts” from its title, and also included new language per revised RCWs, Probert said. The changes were needed in order for the district to receive state funds for projects done in house, as long as those projects did not exceed $75,000.

In information items, the board heard a report from teacher Bonnie Overlie and several students about collaboration between highly capable students at Betz Elementary School and Cheney High School honor society members.

The board also received a report from district wellness coordinator Laura Martin and nutrition director Brian Levy on the district’s “Eat Real Food” Farm to School program.

Martin said that while all schools now have salad bars providing fresh produce, many students don’t know that “pears don’t come from a can.” The program introduces students to a new fruit or vegetable each month, providing information about the food, where in Washington it was grown and who the farmer was that grew it.

The district was the first in the state to receive a federal grant in 2012 for the informational portion of the program. Martin said the next steps are to apply for an implementation grant this spring that would help expand the curriculum and possibly lead to the creation of a community garden.

“We want the kids to understand where the food comes from and how it grows,” she said.

John McCallum can be reached at


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