A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker
Dear Staff, Families and Community,
I hope you are all having a wonderful summer! A back-to-school packet of information to prepare for the school year is in the mail and should be arriving in families’ mailboxes very soon. When the calendar flips to August, our preparations for the coming school year shift into high gear. This year, that includes finalizing our budget due to a late adoption by the state Legislature.
The Legislature approved the state budget on June 30. We rely on the state for the majority of our funding. We’ve been working hard on our 2017-18 Bellingham Public Schools budget and we plan to finalize it next week.
Legislators took a step toward fulfilling the Supreme Court mandate by providing some additional revenue to school districts, but added some unfunded mandates and have certainly not come close to fully funding K-12 education.
We are receiving approximately $7.8 million more than last year from the state for our general operations, so we were able to fund most, but not all of the Budget Highlights we developed and shared during our public process earlier this spring. This includes our improved high school schedule; hiring more counselors and bus drivers; investing in K-5 math intervention materials to support our recent math curriculum adoption; funding middle school social studies curriculum adoption; serving more needs in special education; and receiving a slight increase in state funding for some services, such as highly capable learners and career and technical education.
Our largest annual investment is our staff to provide Great Teaching with Strong Support for all children and families. The state funded a 2.3 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for staff and more funds for employee healthcare to help offset benefit costs. However, the state only provides these funds for some of our staff, not all the staff we employ through our local levy funds. We employ more staff to further reduce class sizes and support our schools. The district makes up the funding difference by providing COLA for all staff using local levy funds.
We’re hopeful that we may be able to fund a few other budget priorities with other funds, such as Title I or LAP, but we’re still working on this part of our budget.
As we begin the school year, we’ll also know if we met our student enrollment projections and if we need to hire any additional staff or move staff to respond to unanticipated class size issues.
We anticipate many changes in state funding for 2018-19 based on this state biennial budget.
Our 2017-18 budget enables us to serve students and families every day through The Bellingham Promise, thanks to the strong support provided by our community.