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.
Adopted FY 2022-23 Budget - Building Better Together. The future of our district is promising, for our students and our community. As we present the 2022-2023 Northshore School District budget, I reflect on the progress we’ve made together. I feel a deep sense of pride in this great district and what we have accomplished. These points of pride can be found all around the district and collectively form the foundation for the future. While the past few years posed many unprecedented challenges, we’ve not only persevered, but we have also become stronger and better prepared for the future.
Our budget continues to focus on the policy priorities identified by the School Board as articulated in the District’s Strategic Plan. In last year’s budget we included data that connected the goals within the plan to student performance outcomes. This year, we are including an explanation of how the district’s systems reinforce these outcomes as the focus, both at the aggregate level and beyond to the performance of individual students. As illustrated on page 17, this “through line” from strategic goals to success for each student is the power in the plan. This illustration further supports the thoughtful discussion occurring now within the School Board resulting in an update to the measures within the Strategic Plan as the board refreshes and renews the plan’s future focus.
Enrollment is a key driver in school district budgets. It is a primary factor in determining the amount of state funding a district can anticipate. It is also a key in determining what level of in-classroom staffing is appropriate for the various educational needs of our students. As a result, this is one of the most important efforts in developing a school district budget.
We continue to take a conservative approach to enrollment forecasts. As illustrated on page 46, our enrollment projections for FY 2022-23 anticipates a total enrollment of 22,575 which is slightly less the forecasted enrollment for the current school year.
ESSER Grant Funds Update
The district expects to receive a total of $7.4 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program (ESSER) funds from the federal government. This is equivalent to about 1.7% of the District’s General Fund budget.
These resources have been invested in: staffing and learning loss (26%), cleaning and health safety (24%), nurses and testing (16%), food service (14%), technology to support students (13%) and other pandemic related needs (7%).
Investment in New English Language Arts Curriculum
The 2021-22 budget included $5.5 million for the purpose of the English language arts (ELA) curriculum adoption. This one-time expenditure is anticipated to occur in the 2021-22 fiscal year however the implementation will begin with the fall 2022 school year. Since the expenditure relates to the 2022-23 school year, the result is a “restricted” portion of fund balance to provide for this anticipated cost. Implementation will occur over an extended period of time though a financial impact is not anticipated in the subsequent four-year budget plans.
Four Year Financial Planning Cycle
The district uses the state four-year budget planning tool as a way to prepare for the future here at Northshore. We seek to understand the impact of the decisions made today on future years in our financial plans. The District’s financial policy calls for a minimum of three percent (3%) in unemcumbered reserves in our General Fund. Included in this budget is the four-year financial plan and an explanation of our assumptions and drivers to do this planning work. In summary, our assumption is that student enrollment will increase by 300 student “FTE” for each of the four years. In addition, we are assuming only those changes in the level of support as it relates to enrollment either from the state or locally.
Beginning last year, we anticipated that the pandemic would bring fiscal stress to both the District and Washington State. As a result we used caution in our spending. The result was a much higher than normal fund balance at the end of the 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal years. Beginning this year, the budget anticipated drawing down these fund balances as the pandemic waned and school returned to a more normal and predictable experience. We anticipate fund balance returning to a more stable state following the 2022-23 fiscal year.
Healthy Start Times for Adolescent Students
The District has been working to find solutions to a healthy start time for our adolescent students for many years. “Healthy start times” as defined by Board policy start no sooner 8 a.m. and end no later than 4 p.m. for any student. A “phase 1” implementation occurred in the current year and a fully compliant “phase 2” will begin in the fall of 2022.
Rearranging our transportation schedules would not have been possible without the regionalization of programs, implementation of new technologies and addressing the impacts of the elementary music program discussed in previous budget messages. We are pleased to have announced that with these changes the District is now fully compliant with the “Healthy Start Times” policy. This was largely possible due to the diligence and effort of the District’s Transportation staff.