MLSD proposes $124 million 2018-19 budget

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MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake School District has released its proposed operating budget of around $124.2 million — roughly $14,000 per student — for the upcoming 2018-19 school year.

This represents a 16 percent, or $16.7 million, increase from the district’s 2017-18 budget of $107.5 million. Much of that increase comes from a rise in teacher salaries and benefits, which rose 11 percent and 8 percent respectively.

The 36-page budget anticipates revenue from local taxes at $11.4 million, along with general purpose state aid of $82.7 million, special purpose state aid of $20.9 million and federal special purpose funding of $7.3 million.

The district is budgeting $93.4 million for “teaching activities and teaching support” — including special education, vocational and skill center instruction — $16.6 million for “other supportive activities” (which includes things like food service, security, insurance, and technology), $5 million for building administration, and $9.2 million for central administration. The district anticipates a K-12 student enrollment of 8,857 for 2018, an increase of more than 200 students from the 8,610 the district budgeted for in 2017-18. Most of that increase comes in grades 5 through 11.

The proposed budget, however, sees a slight decrease in the number of full-time certified employees (teachers) to 566 from 573 budgeted in 2017-18. The number of classified employees its set to rise to 378 from 373.

All told, the MLSD employs around 950 people, and Superintendent Josh Meek has described the district as the largest employer in Grant County.

The district also expects an ending balance in its operating fund of $8.4 million for 2018-19.

In the proposed capital budget, the MLSD is anticipating it will begin selling bonds and building new schools in the next 12 months, with a projected revenue for the capital fund of $79.2 million and expenditures of $32.1 million.

While voters in February, 2017, approved with a three-vote margin a $135.4 million bond to build a new high school and elementary, a year-long court challenge and a change in the makeup of the school board has forced the district to rethink its priorities.

The board is considering a recommendation to build two new elementary schools and a smaller high school as well as fund renovations to the existing high school.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com.

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