February 5, 2024: State Funding Overview

February 5, 2024: State Funding Overview

Northshore School District logo in blue


February 5, 2024

Dear Northshore Staff: 

It is Washington state’s paramount constitutional duty to make ample provisions for K-12 education. 

School Board Directors, our staff, and Northshore students were back in Olympia last Monday, January 29,  advocating for full funding of public education. From multilingual services to special education, insurance, utilities, and staff benefits - the state continues to underfund the true cost of educating our students. These are just some of the budget areas that we backfill with Educational Programs & Operations (EP&O) levy dollars, approved by our local voters, to make up the difference between what the state provides and what our students need. 

The state has not kept pace with our changing context and increased cost of educating students, resulting in our $26 million budget shortfall for the 2024-25 school year. Recently, State Superintendent Chris Reykal provided an overview of why the state is falling short at a legislative conference. Highlights included: 

  • Washington’s education spending as a share of the gross state product (total value of state goods and services) is lower than the national average. 
  • K-12 spending in Washington peaked in 2019, but is now falling when adjusted for inflation. Since 2019-20 per pupil funding has decreased by close to $1,000 per student when adjusted for inflation. This is equivalent to an estimated $22 million annual loss for Northshore. 
  • State funding for K-12 is also declining as a share of our current state budget. In 2018-19, 54% of the state’s budget was dedicated to K-12 education, in 2023-24 it is projected to be just 43.1%. 

We are not alone in our budget challenges. There is a record number of districts in binding conditions, meaning they cannot balance their budget and most districts in our region are making significant financial reductions. We are very fortunate compared to other districts that struggle to or cannot pass levies. Without our strong voter support, the gap between what Washington state provides for our students and what it takes to meet their needs would be even greater. While we are deeply grateful for our levy support, districts should not have to rely on local dollars to fund basic education. 

We continue to monitor this Legislative session closely, and remain hopeful there might be some modest budget relief for 2024-25. We will continue, along with partner districts, to share Northshore’s story and push for systemic and equitable funding improvements in the near future. Full funding of public education is what our students, their families, and our staff need and deserve. And, it is what the state is constitutionally obligated to provide. You can find the one-page 2024-25 budget document we shared in Olympia on the District’s Budget Development webpage.

In other news, on January 16 staff presented an update on the 2022-23 Student Wellness and Safety Task Force recommendations and progress being made on their implementation to the School Board. You can read the December 2023 Final Report on the Task Force webpage and or watch the update presentation. A lot of significant work has already been completed or is underway. Staff are also in the process of implementing a Student Wellness and Safety Advisory Committee whose charge will be to continuously monitor progress.  

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, I will host our 7th annual State of Our Schools. State of Our Schools coincides with publication of our Annual Report - a summary of last year’s progress towards our District’s Strategic Plan goals, review of our finances, and update on the district’s bond and levy work. This year’s theme is, “Belonging: Beyond Our Classrooms” and celebrates how together, with our committed community, we are supporting students to achieve their hopes and dreams. Our incredible students, educators, and community partners will be spotlighted throughout the event. I hope that you tune in. You can either watch the event live on Facebook or streaming on our website. The video will be archived and available on the State of Our Schools webpage for those of you that cannot watch it live. 

Finally, as I have mentioned many times before - being in classrooms and connecting with educators and students is the highlight of my job. Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting Arrowhead Elementary where I ate lunch with Kindergarten students. I learned all about their favorite animals, what they like most about school, and I was excited to see how engaged they are with improving their number sense. When one of the students from room 404 was asked how she likes school, she responded, “Kindergarten is the BEST, I never want to leave.” This is how you make so many of our students feel. Thank you for all that you do to make learning joyful. 

Below in District Highlights you will find important information, including student and staff celebrations and observances.

In partnership, 

Michael Tolley




Have a story you would like to see shared in the "Highlights from Around the District" section of this message and on our website? Submit using this form.


Watch State of Our Schools on Wednesday, Feb. 7

State of Our Schools graphic banner with a collage of photos from Northshore schools

Staff are encouraged to watch the annual State of Our Schools event, taking place on Wednesday, Feb. 7 from 8-9 a.m. via livestream or later online for viewing on the District website or Facebook. This year’s theme of “Belonging: Beyond Our Classrooms” will feature Superintendent Tolley, students, staff, parents, and community members sharing how the community supports students’ achievement as we work toward achieving the goals of the District’s Strategic Plan. Join us and be inspired by our remarkable school communities!


Black History Month

February is Black History Month! The concept of this celebratory month was created by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a scholar, activist, author, and historian. He has come to be known as the “Father of Black History” for his efforts to insert and elevate the experiences, histories, key contributions, and lives of Black peoples and communities in American history. You can read Woodson’s full biography here.

During Black History Month and every day, the Northshore School District recognizes and affirms the lives, intersecting identities, histories, and experiences of our Black students, families, community members, and staff. The Racial and Educational Justice Department has compiled resources for continued learning to celebrate Black lives and history. The Celebrating Black Lives and Black History week of engagement is part of a yearlong series and serves as another optional opportunity to engage in multicultural learning and practice. To learn more and access resources, you can visit the Racial and Educational Justice website


Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year honors the arrival of Spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. This year, Lunar New Year takes place on February 10, and in the Chinese zodiac, 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. Celebrations start the night before and extend up to 15 days after. We would like to wish our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities a happy Lunar New Year! To learn more about this significant holiday, you can view the History Channel's Lunar New Year explanation and resources.


Counselor Appreciation Week

All Northshore School District counselors pose in front of the Admin Center

This week Northshore is celebrating National Counselor Appreciation Week! Thank you to our committed Northshore counselors for all the ways you support students. From student mentorship to college and career counseling, to social-emotional supports, and everything in-between your work makes great things possible for our students. Thank you and we hope you feel seen and appreciated this week and every week.


Leading Towards Justice: Northshore Leaders Share Their Wisdom

Staff and students from Woodinville High who supported the Leading for Justice symposium smile

On January 19 and 20, the University of Washington hosted the inaugural in-person Leading for Justice symposium. The symposium brought together content from the Leading Towards Justice webinar series, from previous years, and the curriculum of Leadership for Learning (L4L)’s most recent cohort of students. Twenty-three workshops were presented, including a keynote conversation with Drs. Dana Nickson and Betina Hsieh. Northshore district leaders led three sessions for symposium participants - including scholars, practitioners, educators, and school and district administrators representing our region. Congratulations to Northshore leaders Regional Assistant Superintendent Melissa Riley, Woodinville High School Assistant Principal Richard Brown, Interim Executive Director of Racial and Educational Justice Ayva Thomas, and Inglemoor High School Assistant Principal Ebonisha Washington. More than a dozen students from Woodinville High School (including those pictured above) also shared their experiences during the symposium. Learn more on our website.


Students Lead in Freedom of Expression Policy Revisions

Inglemoor students Klaira Zhang and Cate Bouvet pose with a copy of the Nordic News student newspaper

The School Board’s recent approval of revisions to Board Policy 3220, Freedom of Expression, is the culmination of the work of a number of Inglemoor High School students during the past several years. Started by graduate Kellen Hoard and finished this year by Nordic News co-editors-in-chief Cate Bouvet and Klaira Zhang (pictured above) with support from district staff, this is an excellent example of student advocacy and leadership making a difference. The revisions to this policy reflect the New Voice Act, which was signed into law in 2018, and reinforce the District’s commitment to ensuring our students' freedom of expression. The revised Policy 3220 is available now on BoardDocs for staff review. Thank you to these students for their dedication.


View Draft Designs of School Construction Projects

Graphic with 4 photos of building renderings and text that reads: Building Better Together: School Construction Projects - Draft Renderings and Schematics

Each of the eight school growth projects funded by the 2022 Capital Bond are progressing through the design phases, with several projects preparing to break ground in spring 2024. View the project websites to learn more about the current status and view draft renderings and schematics designed by the architects to help envision the changes coming to the schools. While each school building’s needs are different, all projects will replace aging portables with additional learning spaces.




Key Dates

Feb. 5 - Northshore School Board and Kenmore City Council Joint Meeting, 7 p.m.
Feb. 7 - Wednesday Early Release
Feb. 9 - Elementary Conference Early Dismissal - for Elementary Schools ONLY
Feb. 12 - School Board Meeting, 4 p.m.
Feb. 14 - Wednesday Early Release
Feb. 19 - Presidents’ Day: No School
Feb. 20-23 - Mid Winter Break: No School
Feb. 26 - School Board Meeting, 4 p.m.
Feb. 28 - Wednesday Early Release

Religious and Cultural Observances

Feb. 10 - Lunar New Year
Feb. 14 - Ash Wednesday, Lent Begins (ends March 28)
March 1 - *The Baha’i Fast (ends March 19)

*Begins at sundown of previous day/ends at sundown



Northshore School District is enriched by the many experiences and perspectives each individual member brings to our District and community. Therefore, our District prohibits discrimination based on age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or the presence of any sensory, cognitive, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability.

Civil Rights and ADA Coordinator for Staff: 
Jerred Kelly
3330 Monte Villa Parkway
Bothell, WA 98021-8972
425-408-7622 or 7604

Title IX Coordinator: 
Jerred Kelly
3330 Monte Villa Parkway
Bothell, WA 98021-8972
425-408-7622 or 7604

The Northshore School District shall provide equal educational opportunity and treatment for all students in all aspects of the District’s academic, activities, or employment programs without discrimination. In addition, the District provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups in its programs and activities.

Section 504 and ADA Coordinator for Students: 
Rick Ferrell
Director of Student Services
3330 Monte Villa Parkway
Bothell, WA 98021-8972

Any Northshore School District staff and community member has the right to raise concerns or make a complaint regarding discrimination under this policy without fear of retaliation. The above-listed employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged unlawful discrimination.



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