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Budget Update for 2018-19

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear Families and Community Members,

It’s our second week back from winter break, and I hope things are going well and that you are feeling energized for the year ahead.

The state’s legislative session began Monday, Jan. 8. While I’m not expecting to see as many school funding changes as we have seen in recent years, there are still significant school-related issues before them and so we will – as always – stay tuned.

Thankfully, The Bellingham Promise and our ongoing Priorities for Progress provide a clear road map for Bellingham Public Schools.

As always, our biggest budget expense for next school year will be in our staffing, including any state-mandated cost-of-living adjustments and contractual obligations. With a direct charge from the legislature, we will continue our efforts of lowering our K-3 staffing ratios, which includes classroom teachers as well as our specialists who teach subjects such as physical education, music, library, special education and world language. We are also looking at how to improve our middle school program to allow for more elective opportunities for students. We have committees looking at curriculum adoptions for middle school science and K-8 social emotional learning. At our high school level, we just implemented a major investment in additional staffing and the new high school schedule that significantly expands course opportunities for students. We also want to maintain our class size ratios across the rest of our schools and grade levels; there is always a desire and advocacy from both staff and families to keep class size low by hiring more staff as a priority. These are just a few highlights of our recent investments, and there is still much to do in all of these areas and beyond.

Because of all of this and given the unpredictably of the legislative session, which determines most of our budget, we will be taking a conservative approach in our budget planning for next year. Over the coming months, we will be soliciting requests (for above what we are currently funding or budget reduction proposals) coming from principals and district leaders, recommendations from our committees, task forces and groups, informational budget meetings and our staffing work group to build a draft budget as part of our Budget Development Process (see page 6 for the decision-making process chart). Based on our best estimate of revenues, we will prepare draft budget highlights to share with you later this year. We will seek your input and gather feedback from staff, families and our community before preparing a final budget.

I will continue to keep you updated about our budget development process, and I appreciate your continued support of our schools and kids.

Greg Baker