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Under LWSD 2011-12 Budget, Some Class Sizes Will Increase Slightly

The Lake Washington School District used levy and reserve dollars to bridge the gap because of state budget cuts.

The Board of Directors approved $231.3 million in General Fund spending on Monday for the 2011-12 budget which begins Sept. 1.

As part of the operations blueprint - which takes into account a - sizes for kindergarten through fourth grade classes will increase by one student because the last of $1.5 million in cuts will be implemented, according to district documents.

The issue of class sizes has been a concern for parents, teachers and administrators, given that it could affect student learning. In 2009, it was one of two top issues for parents and residents, according to a LWSD survey.

Superintendent Chip Kimball explained after the board meeting that district leaders are aware of the concern over class sizes. “We have maintained a very low class size in the primary grades for many, many years,” he said.

“So, the very mild, by one student increase in class size, we don’t believe is going to have a significant impact on student learning.”

For General Fund spending, district officials are using $1.8 million from savings to bridge the gap between expenses and the $229.5 million in revenues expected for the academic year.

“We have saved money anticipating this problem from the state,” Kimball said. “Now, we’re using that money so that we don’t have to lay people off and reduce services for kids.”

Administrative staff keep a close eye on how money is spent and Kimball expressed confidence in the district’s overall financial health and the 2011-12 budget.   

“Lake Washington School District has a history of being fiscally prudent and conservative in our budgeting. We continue to budget that way,” he said.

“As a result of that, the school system is stable fiscally and we’re continuing to do great things for kids as a result of the way that we manage our budget.”

For the 2011-12 budget, the district lost an overall $2.6 million in state dollars to lower K-4 class sizes, LWSD officials reported. Since 2009, the district has seen total cuts of more than $13 million from the state to keep the student-to-teacher ratios lower for these grades.

The 2011-12 budget avoided job cuts for district teachers despite receiving fewer state dollars, a drop which has been translated as a 1.9 percent salary reduction.

What the district is doing, though, is having teachers work two additional days and . One of those days involves teaching. The other is a non-teaching day.

Administrators also are so that no teacher, who is not retiring, would be out of a job.

The district will lose 17 to 18 teaching positions, which will be done so through attrition, because of the slightly larger class sizes, officials have said.

Administrators also are giving up three days of vacation for same pay.

“We’ve managed this in a way that we think has benefitted kids,” Kimball said during the meeting.

District administrators also explained that pension costs for teachers are increasing. Just how much more a teacher would have to pay, though, depends on the plan that a person selects, they added. The opportunity for teachers to pick a plan will be in the fall.

Program costs for elementary, junior high and high school education will increase in the 2011-12 spending document. Elementary education costs have been budgeted for $59.4 million, up from the 2010-11 budget of $57.8 million.

Junior high spending is $25.4 million for this coming academic year, an increase from $24.7 million from the previous school year budget. High school education costs are expected to be $21 million in 2011-12, up from $20.2 million for the 2010-11 year.

District spokeswoman Kathryn Reith explained that administrators are expecting about 477 more students this fall than the last academic year. That accounts for the higher education costs. Rising pension costs also are contributing to the increases, she added.

For this coming academic year, the district will not benefit from federal stimulus money. During the 2010-11 year, LWSD received $2.6 million in assistance from the U.S. government.

The district also will see about $400,000 more in expenses this coming academic year because certain fixed costs for utilities, insurance and fuel are expected to rise, administrators have said.

During the meeting, Board President Jackie Pendergrass said she was pleased to see all district members work together on the overall budget, especially given the tighter financial picture.

But she felt that state lawmakers have the belief that district administrators could "help 'bail' them out" of the dollar cuts coming from Olympia.

“That’s not something they can count on in the future,” she said.

Kimball used direct words to describe how he felt the state’s dollar shortfall and decisions by legislators are affecting administrators and teachers in implementing the cuts.

“The Legislature is hanging us out to dry on this,” he said.

School officials have regarding the budget cuts and how they will affect education.

Kimball also wanted to thank district residents and parents for their continued support of the schools and students, especially with capital and maintenance measures.

In February, to help address campus crowding and build a science, technology, engineering and math school.

Kimball added that the district is not scheduled to go back to residents with a bond or levy measure until 2014.

Editor's note: The LWSD has posted the full budget on its website

LWSD Budget Summary: General Fund Budget Actual 2009-10 Budget 2010-11 Budget 2011-12 Revenues $217,346,759 $225,025,975 $229,501,930 Expenditures $212,191,057 $225,882,424 $231,315,022

 

LWSD student to teacher ratio (Note: Numbers could vary depending on specific class enrollment numbers at each school) Previously 2011-12 year Kindergarten and first grade 19:1 20:1 Second and third grades 23.9:1 25:1 Fourth grade 25.12:1 26.75:1 Fifth and sixth grades (Note: Did not have benefit of money to reduce class size) 26.75:1 26.75:1 Junior high and high school classes (Note: Did not have benefit of money to reduce class size) unchanged unchanged

 

LWSD Enrollment Number (actual or budget) 2005-06 year 22,719 (actual) 2006-07 year 22,682 (actual) 2007-08 year 22,629 (actual) 2008-09 year 22,783 (actual) 2009-10 year 23,115 (actual) 2010-11 year 23,598 (budget; includes 400-student contingency used for planning purposes but spending fine tuned based on actual number) 2011-12 year 24,076 (budget; includes 400-student contingency used for planning purposes but spending fine tuned based on actual number)

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