By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

Medical Lake School Board passes 2017-18 budget

A $22.8 million general fund will fuel district for next school year

 

Last updated 8/3/2017 at 8:47am



The Medical Lake School Board got the heavy lifting out of the way July 25 and then breezed through their monthly meeting agenda.

The big consideration was passage of the 2017-18 budget that included $22.8 million in general fund expenditures and $1.3 million in debt service as notable large expenses. Also included was $625,000 in the transportation vehicle fund that will pay for several new buses that arrive in September.

The budget was passed unanimously following a preliminary meeting where both Superintendent Tim Ames and Chad Moss, director of finance, walked the board through — as best as they could — the freshest set of numbers.

With the state Legislature finally passing a state budget in the final hours of June 30, just before the conclusion of the state’s fiscal year, much of the educational side of things has the clarity of mud. It calls for spending $7.2 billion more on K-12 education over the next four years.

“The crazy thing about this year is everything happened so late,” Moss said. That means how new monies will be spent is really still unclear, he added.

Also hazy is what happens in the 2018-19 budget year because levies are capped at $1.50 per $1,000 worth of a home’s valuation.

That move of capping the levy amounts will drop the maximum that the district can raise from $1.2 million to around $800,000, Moss explained.

The hope is to fill that gap with levy equalization money. “We don’t know what that’s going to look like in (20)18-19,” Moss said.

Medical Lake plans to ask voters next February for levy money, but there is still the question of what guidelines will be in place and what that means.

“What happens to districts who passed them (levies) last year?” Moss said. “Do they roll it back to their taxpayers or do they get grandfathered and get to keep the additional funds over the $1.50?”

Medical Lake has based its budget on enrollment of approximately 1,800 across all of its schools. That figure comes from final enrollment in June of 2017.

“This was abnormal because we actually used June’s enrollment,” Moss said. That’s the best snapshot of what’s to come.” Normally they use March or April numbers to project.

Moss said the district hopes to stay between 1,800 – 1,825, but with the new influx of tankers that are now at Fairchild Air Force Base, there is uncertainty there, as well.

In the early 2000’s the district reached it high-water mark of nearly 2,300 students.

Notable among a list of action items that all passed without objection was a 10-cent increase in the cost of free and reduced lunches for next school year.

The group will meet again on Aug. 23 at 4 p.m. in the district board room.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.


 

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