The Northshore School District, like many other school districts, is anticipating a budget deficit for the 2023-24 school year due to factors outlined below. Responding to this budget deficit will be challenging. As we develop the 2023-24 budget, guiding principles of the District include complying with state mandates and board policies, minimizing the impact on students both in the classroom and in their educational experiences, and advancing the District’s strategic plan. District leadership is looking at a number of potential cost-saving measures that improve efficiencies while adhering to these guiding principles.
As of March 1, the current expected shortfall is $21 million, equivalent to 5% of the total budget. There are a number of contributing factors that are still evolving and may influence this number.
Declining student enrollment while maintaining or increasing staffing levels. Since 2019-20 and the start of the pandemic, Northshore has seen a decline of 600 student full-time equivalents (FTE) and projects another 200-plus FTE decrease in 2023-24. Every 75 students is the equivalent of approximately $1 million dollars. While we have lost students, we have maintained and in some areas added staff to address student needs. Additionally, the school-age population in Washington is shrinking due to declining birth rates. The pandemic accelerated projected enrollment loss.
Increased student and staff needs as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike Districts with higher Free and Reduced Lunch student populations, 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. Learn more about state and federal financial support provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
District decisions regarding programming and operations. We have provided increased instructional program opportunities for many students;
The state’s continued underfunding of public education, specifically special education. For example, in 2022-23, Northshore spent $23.6 million dollars of local levy funds to make up the gap between what the state provides for special education 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. Full funding of special education is a legislative priority of education leaders and organizations across our state including the State PTA, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington, Washington Education Association, Washington State School Directors’ Association, and Washington Association of School Administrators among others. This year’s legislative session ends on April 23; and
State spending on public education hasn’t kept pace with inflation and the true cost associated with operating schools. Inflation has impacted fuel and energy prices, supplies and parts, food, etc. - all costs outside our control but that we must respond to.
- Comply with state mandates (whether funded or not).
- Honor the District Strategic Plan as the foundational policy guidance (including its focus on Racial and Educational Justice as well as student outcomes).
- Conform with adopted, existing school board policies.
- Minimize the impact on students both in the classroom and in their educational experiences.
- Keep schools open.
- Comply with negotiated agreements.
- Minimize reduction in force (RIF).
- Preserve consistent and predictable operations and services to the extent possible while working to avoid any additional burdens on the work within classrooms.
Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to our most commonly asked questions.