Our approach to developing and communicating the District’s budget is consistent with our Strategic Plan's Building Block 4: Data-Informed, Needs-Based Resource Allocation, developing a “Needs Based, Data Informed” method to responsibly allocate limited District resources.
2019-20 Budget Highlights
Implementation of Core 24
This budget implements the state’s new graduation requirement known as "Core 24". Students will be required to have 24 credits to graduate beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. In response to this, and to preserve elective options for our students, we’ve moved from 6 period days in our high schools to 7 class period days. We believe this approach provides the best opportunity to Northshore students to complete the state’s requirements and retain some options for alternatives to the “core 24” courses as well as equity in opportunities. This change resulted in the need to an additional 22 classroom teachers and related costs for a total cost of $5.6 million.
Continued growth is anticipated in 2019-2020 and beyond
The District continues to experience growth in our student enrollment resulting in additional resources provided by Washington State. The table below provides expected total student populations for the forecast years. This budget and the related forecast was formulated using these projections. While we continue to anticipate growth in our student population, we haven’t seen the kindergarten enrollment yet this spring that we would have anticipated. As a result, we have reduced the anticipated state resources by the equivalent of 100 students, but have held the budget for the related teachers in a reserve within this budget. Should enrollment result in the need for some or all of these teachers, we will release the necessary funds to enable schools to staff up in time for school to open in the fall.
The state’s “K-3” class size initiative
The Washington State legislature recently implemented a full day kindergarten requirement. The Northshore School District moved to full day kindergarten in 2016-17. Another state initiative is to reduce class size in kindergarten through 3rd grade to a ratio of 17 students to each “teacher” (in this case, “teacher” includes related certificated teaching staff such as librarians, etc.). The District’s current kindergarten staffing ratio is 17.9 students to each teacher. In response, Northshore will lower class size to approximately 17.6 to 1 in 2019-2020 and we will seek to achieve the 17 to 1 ratio state target in the 2020-21 school year. The financial impact of not reaching the state goal in this budget is approximately $2 million in forgone state revenue.
Curriculum refresh and District Assessments
We are continuing to make investments in updating and refreshing classroom curriculum. Final desicisons have not been made as yet with regard to which curriculums will be included, but at the moment we are examining opportunities for English Language Arts, AP Physics and elementary music. We are also exploring investing in new assessment programs for both math and reading. District staff are investigating options to select the ones that are best for our students, and the budget provides for the needed resources.
Competitive Wages and District Bargaining Agreements
Our District’s excellence is largely attributable to the quality of our staff. In this budget are the resources to continue to compensate our staff, including our excellent teachers, in a fair manner. In partnership with the 11 District bargaining groups representing our staff, we’ve been able to provide for increases to compensation in keeping with neighboring districts while remaining fiscally responsible. We are either just concluding, or soon will be concluding bargaining with each of the employee groups. These conversations have been productive and collaborative.
Elementary and Secondary Counselors and Mental Health Support
The proposed budget provides for elementary counselors in every school. While we introduced additional elementary school counselors in the past school year, we are proposing counselors in each of the District’s elementary schools with this budget. We also enhanced the ratios for staffing of mental health support within the schools.
School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB)
The Washington State Legislature mandated that all school districts participate in the Washington School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB) for health benefits for their employees beginning in January 2020. Along with this mandate is a lower threshold for the number of hours a district employee needs to work in order to qualify for this program. Much of the cost of implementing this program is provided for by the state. The estimate to provide benefits under SEBB for the next school year is $5.1 million.
Canyon Park 4 (CP4)
We have been exploring options to increase high school capacity due to projected enrollment growth. One of the options discussed was the potential for purchasing and converting an existing office/commercial building into more high school classroom space. After reviewing many properties, the Canyon Park Business Park 4 Site (CP4) was identified as the most attractive site due to its location, current status, configuration, and parking availability. The District purchased CP4 in May 2019, and plans to convert the 63,333 square foot building and 5.92 acre site into an excellent educational facility to complement the District’s other high schools.