Seeking Input on Budget Highlights for 2018-19

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear Families and Community,

The state’s legislative session ended March 8, and we are continuing to learn more about their progress toward meeting the state Supreme Court’s school-funding order known as the McCleary decision. There’s some good news: over the last few years the legislature has continued to increase state funding for schools, including areas such as transportation, supplies and materials, employee compensation/benefits and special education. However, it’s important to note that the state still doesn’t fully fund all aspects of education, which means we will need to continue to rely on our local levies and other funding sources such as grants and our Schools Foundation to provide the type of education our community expects. As the state increases funding, it’s also critical to understand that they will decrease the amount of money we can collect through our local levies, so much of the increase is a switch of funding from local to state.

All that to say, we’re grateful to receive additional funding, and we look forward to hearing your feedback. Our draft budget highlights summarize our initial thinking on new spending for 2018-19 with staff compensation/benefits as our biggest investment. Additional staff will help us lower class sizes, especially in grades K-3 to meet state compliance ratios, by investing in classroom teachers and specialists. Adding staff will also allow us to increase world language opportunities; provide driver’s education courses at high school; and expand our support to students with special needs by adding support for occupational therapy, speech language pathology and deaf and hard of hearing. These are just a few of the priorities – I encourage you to review all of the highlights, then share your reflections in our survey.

Our draft budget highlights are organized by key strategies of The Bellingham Promise. We plan to fund as many of these as we can, depending on state revenue, and possibly more as the state budget allows.

Please take this brief survey to comment on these draft budget highlights by noon on March 30. We’ll use feedback from our staff, families and our community as we finalize our budget and make hiring decisions this spring. We’ll plan to share an updated Priorities for Progress for 2018-19 based on this input at the start of the new school year.

Thank you for your feedback,

Greg Baker

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