Medical Lake School Board approves new digital learning platform
Members hear of budget and legislative updates; state auditors report
Last updated 6/6/2019 at 8:08am
The Medical Lake School Board considered a number of policy revisions and resolutions, and heard reports on a recent state audit and other updates at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, May 28, at Hallett Elementary School.
Chad Moss, director of finance reported on a recent financial audit by the Office of the Washington State Auditor.
“It was one of the most intensive audits that I’ve been a part of,” Moss said.
The two-part audit looked at both financial statements and accountability.
The accountability audit considered procurement, purchases, and theft prevention of items such as Chromebooks.
There were also follow-up audits regarding school choice enrollment and alternative learning experience education.
Medical Lake was one of 20 state districts to be selected for a school choice audit due to the district’s high percentage of choice students.
The result? There were no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses found, according to the auditors report.
“I’m really please with the outcome,” Moss said, noting that the audit gave the district an opportunity to find areas of growth and opportunity in terms of internal methods and procedures.
Moss also reported on impacts of this year’s legislative session on district budgeting.
He noted that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction was still sorting through the outcome of 11th-hour legislative bills passed during the session.
“OSPI is scrambling to go through all of the legislative documents and laws and trying to figure out what exactly all came together and how it’s affecting everybody,” Moss said.
OSPI provides each district with tables that help them determine the amount of funding they can expect to receive based on the complexities of legislative bills passed. Moss noted that some OSPI assumptions for the district, such as projected enrollment growth, were inaccurate.
There were, however, funding increases for special education, per-student maintenance, supply and operating cost allotments, and a small increase in reimbursement for state-funded teacher positions.
“We were obviously hoping for more,” Moss said. “We’ll take what we get and see how it looks through the Medical Lake lens.”
The other looming funding issue is SEBB — the legislative requirement that all school districts fund employee benefits through the State Employee Benefits Board. The mandate essentially means the school district, through the state, may be required to provide health and other benefits to more employees.
Moss said the district was currently looking to see how many employees would meet the “outer thresholds” of hours worked to qualify for benefits. He said the 2019-2020 school year would be a trial to see who falls into the qualification range, and how that will affect the district.
“The one thing about the budget is that we’re not big winners, and we’re not big losers,” Superintendent Tim Ames said.
Ames noted one of the legislative changes was an increase in the “levy lid” that will allow some districts to increase the amount of money they ask voters to approve based on the total appraised property value within a district.
“We don’t anticipate doing that because we’re sitting in a good position,” he said.
Assistant Superintendent Kim Headrick outlined the district’s continued efforts to transition to electronic-based learning with adoption by the board of a six-year digital contract, and a one-year purchase of identical hard copies of the same digital material that will supplement a new electronic learning platform for English Language Arts (ELA) to be used on the districts Chromebook laptop computers.
The consumable purchase is part of a one-year trial, to identify what materials that were used and those that weren’t.
“Basically (we would) have everything that is digital available for somebody to use print,” Headrick told the board. “We wanted (the consumables) available for at least this year to see how we use it.”
The new materials, which meet Washington State Learning Standards, will be used for middle and high schools ELA curriculums and allow students to be career and college-ready, Headrick said.
“We’re really getting ourselves lined up so that we can begin to make some of these key shifts in terms of instructional materials in many of the content areas,” Headrick said.
Ames noted that the entire district would be adopting Chromebooks district wide in the 2019-2020 school year.
In other business, the district was awarded a $10,722 OSPI grant to hire an architect to survey the districts facilities and provide a six-year plan to fund future maintenance and remodeling, as needed.
The board also approved a 10-cent increase in lunch prices for the next school year due to an increase in food costs, according to Moss. Breakfast prices will remain the same.
Lee Hughes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.