Public invited to comment on budget proposal

Public invited to comment on budget proposal
Posted on 07/26/2019

The public has the opportunity to comment on Tahoma School District’s proposed operating budget for the 2019-2020 school year, during a public hearing hosted by the School Board at 6 p.m. on July 30 in the Board Room at Central Services Center, 25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Road SE.

The School Board received regular updates from staff since spring as the budget was developed, held a work-study session about the budget on July 16, and held further discussion during the July 23 board meeting. Adoption of the budget is scheduled during a special board meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 6.

The proposed budget would collect $127,062,371 in state, local, and federal funds; it would spend $130,560,892 plus an additional $1,389,674 for loan payments and technology. The spending is $4,888,195 more than anticipated revenue and the difference will be paid from the fund-balance reserve.

 Most of the district’s $106,782,194 in state revenue is based on student enrollment. Federal revenue is $2,638,967 and is mostly special education funding. Local revenue is $17,641,210, including $10,761,082 from the Educational Programs and Operations Levy.

Like other school districts in the state, most of Tahoma’s general fund spending, 82%, is for salaries and benefits. The remainder is for materials, supplies and other costs (MSOCS). The budget would spend $18,320,146 more than the 2018-2019 budget. Most of the increased spending is for salary and benefit increases to teaching and support staff, along with hiring additional staff to reduce class sizes in grades kindergarten-3 and to meet anticipated enrollment growth.

As part of new state budgeting requirements, Tahoma must issue a three-year budget forecast beyond the 2019-2020 budget document. The School Board discussed whether to include anticipated revenue from local levies in the forecast but decided not to do so, since it is not known whether voters would approve future levies. Board members said they want the budget to be accurate and the process to be transparent so that the community can trust the numbers.

Board President Didem Pierson said the School Board “wants to put the best information out there” to ensure the community can review the budget and understand how tax dollars are being spent.

The budget forecasts show that if Tahoma continues to rely on reserve funds to balance the budget, the fund balance would be exhausted by 2021-2022 and result in a deficit unless spending or revenue is adjusted.

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