Lake Washington School District approves budget
August 22, 2013
By Ari Cetron
The Lake Washington School Board unanimously approved its 2013-14 budget on Aug. 6. The $426 million spending plan includes new state revenue, and has left district officials, who are facing a projected revenue shortfall in 2018, wondering just what to do with some of it.
“What is the best use of funds in the short term, knowing what we have coming in the long term?” asked Superintendent Traci Pierce.
The state provides about 52 percent of the district’s budget. Another 22.5 percent comes from local tax levies, with the remainder coming from federal funds, user fees and other funding sources.
When the board last heard about a proposed budget in June, the state had yet to finalize its own budget, so the district wasn’t quite sure how much funding it was going to get.
Once the state was able to get its funding situation squared away, the district found it would be getting about $7.6 million more than it had anticipated, said Barbara Posthumus, director of business services.
Some of that funding is earmarked for specific projects, but about $5.1 million of the money comes with no ties.
But the extra cash is a temporary situation. In response to the economic downturn, the state has allowed local districts to collect more tax revenue. That permission expires in 2018.
So while the district is projecting increasing revenues for the years until then, in 2018, they expect to collect $2.6 million less in taxes than they do today, Posthumus said.
Overall, with decreasing revenues, and increasing expenses driven largely by enrollment increases, the district could be looking at a $4.6 million shortfall in 2018, if the most conservative budget projections come to pass.
“While we have money today, in six years we won’t,” Posthumus said.
As food for thought, Posthumus presented the board with three alternatives for the extra money. One idea was to spend them on one-time costs; another was to create new programs with ongoing costs; and the third was to save the money against the future projected deficit.
The school board did not discuss those ideas, but is likely to do so in the coming months.