2023-24 Budget Development FAQ

How are districts funded?

Over seventy percent of our budget comes from the state. The primary driver of our budget is student enrollment. The second largest funding source is our local levy. Thirty percent of our levy is used to make up the gap between what the state provides for special education and what our students need and are legally entitled to.


What steps is the District taking to mitigate the shortfall?

The district has initiated efforts to slow spending this year and manage cash-flow. This will likely result in some roll-forward savings into future budgets, but this is not a long-term solution. Just recently we put a freeze on non-essential discretionary expenditures. Other immediate steps are being evaluated.


Who are the decision makers as we balance the budget for 2023-24?

By law, the superintendent makes final administrative decisions and proposes a budget to the School Board for their consideration. The final decision will be made by the School Board as they adopt the 2023-24 budget in July 2023. A preliminary budget is published in June. The interim superintendent is including district leadership, labor partners, the Finance Advisory Committee, and others in the development of his recommendations to the Board.



How would full funding of Special Education help the Northshore School District?

The district currently uses $23.6M of local levy funds to supplement State Special Education funding. Full funding of Special Education will mean that $23.6M is available for other purposes. The legislative session ends April 23. After April 23 we will have a better understanding of new state revenues.



Did Northshore staff know last year there was a budget shortfall on the horizon?

Yes, however the scope has evolved since staff first advised the School Board and community of a projected shortfall last June. Staff also reminded the School Board and community in the review of the budget planning parameter in Fall 2022.



How did Northshore’s projected 2023-24 budget shortfall grow from $12M to $21M?

Through the Interim Superintendent’s initiative mapping process and budget development, ongoing expenditures were identified that weren’t formally budgeted for in 2023-24. These are activities paid for with contingency funds in 2022-23 that are planned to continue in 2023-24. In addition, we’ve come to realize that the declining enrollment is continuing and have further reduced anticipated enrollment for the 2023-24 budget assumptions as described above.


Did Northshore staff know last year there was a budget shortfall on the horizon?

Yes, however the scope has evolved since staff first advised the School Board and community of a projected shortfall last June. Staff also reminded the School Board and community in the review of the budget planning parameter in Fall 2022.



My property taxes have gone up, why can’t this funding be used to help address the budget shortfall?

Changes to the way public schools are funded was implemented by the Washington State legislature in 2018. While the new legislation resulted in an increase of some state funding to education, the ability for Northshore and other districts to fund education locally was significantly reduced. This has created a financial challenge for many districts in our region. Districts are capped at how much per student they can collect from local voters per $1000 of assessed property value. So, even if property owners are paying more in taxes - the school district can’t collect additional funding.


What is the district doing to advocate for the state to fully fund special education?

We continue to share the importance of fully funding special education with our state representatives. Full funding of special education is the top legislative priority of our School Board, numerous statewide associations, our labor partners, and staff. Additionally, associations representing educators, school leaders, Board Directors, etc., have been working in collaboration to advocate for full funding of special education and what it would mean for public education, our students, and families.


What can parents and families do to make special education a bigger legislative priority now and into the future? How can parents help the district gain more funding from the state?

While the District can’t legally ask families or staff to advocate on our behalf, we recommend families connect with the Washington State PTSA or Northshore Council PTSA. More information, including Northshore Council PTSA’s legislative agenda and advocacy tips can be found on the Council webpage: http://www.northshorecouncilptsa.org/advocacy.html

Not sure who your state senator or representatives are? Washington State's website has a Find Your Legislator tool. Just type in your address and click on the "Find My District" tab.


Most school districts own extra land. Can this be sold?

Land and buildings are capital items (purchased with capital fund resources) and cannot be mixed or used to address operating budget needs.


I would like more details describing how the projected budget shortfall grew from an estimated $10-12M to $21-22M.

Historically, the District sets aside contingency funds. These are “emergency” funds to address unexpected student or school needs. These funds are in addition to our Board required fund reserve of 3% of the total budget. Best practice is to use contingency funds for one-time expenditures, but that is not always possible. Through the initiative mapping process, a process to identify all of the activities and work paid for by the general fund, not including grants or levy funds, ongoing expenditures were identified that are currently being paid for by contingency funds. These activities include new instructional models created during the pandemic to address student health and academic needs, enhanced school-based staffing, and enhanced leadership positions. These activities, plus a projected additional loss of students in 2023-24 increased our shortfall.


If our student enrollment has declined by 827 from 2019-20 to 2022-23, then let’s compare how our administration staff numbers compare for the same period.

The number of school-based administrators is determined by our Northshore Association of School Administrators (NASA) collective bargaining agreement. Schools receive additional administration support if they reach specific student enrollment thresholds. Like educators, in the past three years Northshore hasn’t adjusted school administrative staffing levels to match the current student enrollment. Much of this was due to the additional need at schools once students came back in-person. In 2023-24, both administration and school-based staffing will be brought into alignment with student enrollment. Centrally, we will also be reducing positions.


How much money per student is spent at each school in the district?

Please see the current district budget for information about how much is spent at each school and how many students attend each school.


Can the 3% required fund reserve be increased to address future budget shortfalls?

Yes, we could set aside additional funding, but it is not recommended. Think of the fund reserve as a savings account. Fund reserve should only be used for one-time expenses and to address an emergency (e.g., earthquake, pandemic). Use of fund reserve is not a sustainable budget practice. It is more important to increase our revenue, either through student enrollment or state funding allocations per student.


I know the district started a cricket club. Is the cost of that going to be classified as a non WIAA sport similar to water polo, crew and lacrosse?

The District doesn’t have an official cricket club, but we host a tournament each year. The equipment for the tournament is already owned by the District. There is no cost to the District. Student and family belonging is one of our District’s key values, and activities like this support our commitments.


How many positions will be eliminated to help balance the budget and what type of positions?

The RIF resolution is posted in Board Docs under the April 24 meeting. The resolution includes the title of the positions that will be eliminated. Individuals that are affected by the position reduction have already been informed. In total 7.9 FTE have been eliminated. Remaining staff reductions will be made through attrition (retirements and resignations) for the 2023-24 school year. Additionally, each district department has been asked to reduce their budget by 3-5%.


How was the public and Northshore Community made aware of the budget development process and opportunity to provide feedback?

The School Board hosted a study session on the budget in November 2022. Interim Superintendent Tolley has been proactively communicating a budget shortfall since January 2023. Engagement activities have included school leader meetings, four community presentations, the development of a website, staff presentations at each school, a School Board study session in March 2023, promotion of online videos and a feedback form, and budget communication every week in the staff Monday message and Connections Newsletter. To view the communication and engagement timeline, visit the 2023-24 Budget Development webpage.



Have additional questions about the 2023-24 budget deficit?

Email: communications@nsd.org and staff will update the webpage with a response.