Budget proposal presented to Othello School Board

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OTHELLO — Othello teachers, administrators and support staff – along with school employees statewide – will receive raises as part of sweeping changes in state-funded school support. The salary information was part of a budget workshop for Othello School Board members Monday.

The workshop was the first look at the 2018-19 budget. “This is the start of the budget process,” said board chair Rob Simmons. Approval is scheduled for the Aug. 13 board meeting, but that is subject to change.

Along with major revisions to staff salaries, the district will be going to an all-free breakfast and lunch program, according to the information presented at the meeting.

In the preliminary budget, total projected revenue for 2018-19 is $62,254,397, and total projected expenses are $61,985,605. The projected ending fund balance is $10,360,097.

The budget proposal will be available for review on the district’s website within the next few days, said Rebecca Montgomery, a consultant working on the budget process for the district.

The 2018 Washington Legislature enacted sweeping changes to education funding, among them the elimination of the state-mandated salary schedule. Legislators also increased the amount of money dedicated to school employee salaries. “That enhanced funding has significantly increased the base allocation amounts for all salaries, certified, classified and administration,” Montgomery said.

The legislature sets a minimum and maximum allocation for certificated (teacher) salaries. For 2018-19, the minimum state allocation per teacher position is $40,760, the maximum $91,710. “Just to confirm,” said board member Jenn Stevenson. “The salary range for the certificated, classified and administrative, these are only the state numbers. These have nothing to do with our current contract we’re negotiating.”

“Correct,” Montgomery said. “It’s the funding model.”

There’s a basic allocation for administrators and classified (support) staff. For 2018-19, the basic allocation for classified staff is $46,784, and for administrators it’s $96,805. That’s the funding allocated to each district for each employee in those categories. “The district has the opportunity to use an allocation where it deems the best use is,” Montgomery said.

The budget is based on the number of children in school, but of course the school year hasn’t started when the budget is prepared. So district officials are required to make a projection; for 2018-19, the projection is the equivalent of 4,434 students.

The enrollment projection was about 2 percent too high in 2018-19. “We have taken a very conservative approach,” Montgomery said, projecting that existing enrollment will remain static. “The difference in the overall FTE count is, you’ve got a larger kindergarten class coming in than the seniors going out.” The kindergarten class is estimated to be the equivalent of 335 students.

Breakfast and lunch served at school will be free to all students. “It’s anticipated your participation will increase as a result of that, but there are some staffing needs that go with that,” Montgomery said.

The preliminary budget will be presented at the July 23 meeting. Montgomery said she didn’t anticipate many changes between the budget information presented at the workshop and the preliminary budget.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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