March 6, 2023: Update on the 2023-24 Budget Shortfall

March 6, 2023: Update on the 2023-24 Budget Shortfall

Northshore School District logo in blue


On Monday, February 20, along with the Northshore Council PTSA I participated in Focus Day in Olympia. It was a valuable experience and an important advocacy opportunity. I want to thank the Northshore Council PTSA for inviting me to participate and representing the voices of our diverse community so well.

Since mid-January, I have been sharing information about our 2023-24 budget development process. Specifically, I have been sharing the gap between our 2023-24 projected revenue and what it currently costs to run our district and educate our students. Seventy-three percent of Northshore’s budget is paid for by the state based on student enrollment. Local taxes used for public education, referred to as levies, help make up the gap between what the state provides and what our students need. As we face a budget shortfall next school year, the outcome of this legislative session will be critically important. 

Part of the budget development process has been initiative mapping. Initiative mapping is the process of identifying all of the District’s expenditures beyond those associated with levies, bonds, or grants. The purpose of initiative mapping is to bring better coherence to our strategies, identify duplication in efforts, and help us make better-informed budget decisions. 

I want to thank the many people that have spent countless hours documenting our collective work. Through initiative mapping and the budgeting process, we identified additional expenditures that have grown our projected 2023-24 shortfall from an estimated $10-12 million to $21-22 million. One result of the mapping process is that district expenses were identified that are being paid for out of contingency funds in the 2022-23 budget and weren’t formally budgeted as ongoing expenses in the budget development process. These expenses include certificated staff, administrators, contractual commitments, and additional student services. 

The District has already taken steps to slow spending this year, requiring schools and central departments to limit spending to 75% of their budget through March 2023. Now, we are restricting additional activities including last week’s freeze on travel and catering. This will likely result in some additional dollars rolling forward into future budgets, but it is not a long-term solution. 

So, why does Northshore have a projected $21-22 million shortfall for next school year? 

  • Declining student enrollment while we maintained or increased staffing levels over multiple years. Since 2019-20 and the start of the pandemic, Northshore has seen a decline of 600 student FTE and projects another 200+ student FTE decrease in the 2023-24 school year. Every 75 students is the equivalent of $1 million. While we have lost students, we have maintained and in some areas added staff to address student needs. As a side note, the school-age population in Washington is shrinking due to declining birth rates - the pandemic just accelerated anticipated enrollment loss;

  • Increased student and staff needs as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike districts with higher populations of students qualifying for Free and Reduced Lunch status, Northshore received minimal ESSER funds (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund). In total we received $7.4 million. Emergency and recovery efforts were primarily paid for by our general fund and local levies;

  • District decisions regarding programming and operations in support of our students; 

  • The state’s continued underfunding of public education, specifically special education services. For example, in 2021-22, Northshore spent $23.6 million dollars of local levy funds to make up the gap between what the state provides for special education services and what our students need and deserve. If the state  was paying the full cost of legally required special education services, our budget forecast would be very different. This year’s legislative session ends on April 23; and

  • State spending on public education hasn’t kept pace with inflation and the true costs associated with operating schools. 

The Seattle Times interview with state superintendent Chris Reykdal helps shed additional light on the financial “perfect storm” faced by Districts in Washington, including Northshore. 

What are our next steps? 

On March 13, 2023 staff will provide a budget update to the School Board at a special study session. You may watch the meeting live streamed. During this meeting we will review what makes up our budget shortfall and guiding principles for reductions. We are legally required to submit a balanced budget to the state - so, we must bring our expenditures into alignment with our projected revenue. 

I am personally committed to making sure the District is transparent about the budget challenges, solutions, and timeline. Cabinet has been asked to attend school staff meetings to present this information in person and answer questions. Your school leader is working with my office to schedule those conversations. I will be meeting with our Transportation Department this week as well as providing an in-person update to Support Services and the Administrative Center staff. 

Finally, the Budget and Finance Office will be hosting community meetings in March and April. 

  • Wednesday, March 15, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Zoom)

  • Wednesday, March 22, 7- 8:00 p.m. (Board Room, Admin Center)

  • Monday, March 27, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. (Zoom)

  • Wednesday, April 5, 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Zoom)

As a lifelong educator and someone who cares deeply about our students and staff, I recognize how challenging this is. None of the solutions will be easy, and it will likely require reductions in multiple areas across the system. I am committed to continuing to center our students, racial and educational justice, and commitments outlined in our strategic plan as we work to balance our budget. Thank you in advance for partnering in the hard work that lies ahead. 

In partnership,

Michael Tolley

Interim Superintendent



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Northshore School Board Selects Finalists for Permanent Superintendent Position

Northshore Superintendent Finalists photographs from left to right: Dr. Charles McNulty, Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift, and Mr. Michael Tolley

The Northshore School Board has announced three finalists for the 2023-24 superintendent position. Finalists were selected after an extensive public engagement process, including a broad community survey and interviews with staff, students, and families about the desired experience and qualities of the next superintendent. Twenty-seven individuals applied and 8 applicants were moved forward for School Board consideration representing high-performing districts from across the nation.

The final Northshore Superintendent candidates in alphabetical order are:

  • Dr. Charles McNulty

  • Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift

  • Mr. Michael Tolley 

To learn more about each candidate please read today’s announcement

Dr. Charles McNulty, Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift, and Mr. Michael Tolley will participate in the final round of interviews for the position on March 14 and 15, 2023. Each finalist will participate in a full day of focus group discussions, a school tour, Board interview, and community forum. 

Community Forum

The Community Forum will be held on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Northshore Performing Arts Center (18125 92nd Ave. NE, Bothell, WA 98011), which is located on the campus of Bothell High School. Forum participants will be invited to submit questions for the candidates and provide feedback to the School Board - informing their final selection deliberations. For individuals not able to attend in person, the Northshore School District will be live streaming the forum. Information about live streaming and how to submit electronic feedback will be provided on the Superintendent Search webpage.

The Northshore School Board is expected to make a final selection at a Special Meeting of the Board on March 17, 2023. The new superintendent is scheduled to begin July 1, 2023.


March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month

Each March, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) and its partners work together to highlight the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities. The awareness month efforts seek to educate our communities about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life, as well as awareness of the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities in which they live.

Congratulations to Northshore’s 2023 National Merit Finalists

Congratulations to the eight Northshore students who were named National Merit finalists. Nationally, about 15,000 students were named finalists this year. From the Class of 2023, the following students are finalists: From Inglemoor High School – Josephine Anderson, Justin Chae, and Liana Moldovanu; From North Creek High School – Hansel Lee, Shreya Shaji, and Andrew Zhang; and from Woodinville High School – Meagan McGuinness and Colin Pascual. Read more about this recognition and scholarship potential on our website.

Congratulations to all District Student-Athletes Competing at State for Winter Sports

Congratulations to our high school student-athletes across the District who competed in winter sports. WIAA State competitions take place in February or March, depending on the sport, and include many students and teams from across our comprehensive high schools.

Reminder: First Choice Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

This employee benefit is provided at no cost to you by the District. You, your spouse/domestic partner, and any dependent children under the age of 26 can access free and confidential access to counseling services, legal, and financial consultations, ID theft and fraud support, childcare and eldercare referrals/resources and home ownership assistance. Log in at with the username of nsd to view the helpful tools available.

The EAP offers up to four sessions of face-to-face or telehealth (no copay, deductible, or premium) with a qualified clinical expert who can assess your concerns and develop a plan of action.

Call 1-800-777-4114 or visit the First Choice website to request an appointment. Username: nsd




Key Dates

March 8: Wednesday Early Release

March 13: School Board Meeting, 4 p.m.

March 15: Wednesday Early Release

March 22: Wednesday Early Release

March 27: School Board Meeting, 7 p.m.

March 29: Wednesday Early Release


Religious and Cultural Observances

March 6: Ta’anit Ester; Fast of Ester

March 8: Holi

March 12: Daylight Saving Time - Set Clocks Ahead One Hour

March 22: *Nowruz

March 22: Ugadi/Gudi Padwa

March 23: *Ramadan (Ends April 21)

March 25: International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade


*Begins at sundown of previous day/ends at sundown



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