The Camas School Board voted unanimously Monday night to approve Levy Rate Resolution 1902, which restores the 2017 voter-approved levy, and brings an additional $4.05 million in district revenue through 2021.
The levy calls for $2.15 per $1,000 of assessed property value, and becomes effective January 2020. The 2018 McCleary legislation cut the Camas School District levy authority in half, which contributed to budget deficits and staff reductions. In 2019, the Washington State Legislature authorized school districts to levy up to $2.50. The current levy is $1.50.
“If we stayed at $1.50 there would be no added revenue,” said School Board member, Connie Hennessey. “At $2.15, it brings in an additional $4.05 million, which puts us at the amount voters approved before McCleary.”
School Board member Tracey Malone said “We have to be good stewards of the taxpayer money” while School Board member Erika Cox felt “very comfortable with $2.15.”
“We had authority by the state to go to $2.50 but we felt $2.15 honors what the taxpayers approved in 2017,” said CSD Communications Director, Doreen McKercher.
The board also voted unanimously to increase contingency funds for The Heights Learning Center Seismic Upgrade Project, as well as approve final acceptance of Energy Services Agreement for district-wide projects.
The board spent November 21-24 at the Washington State School Director’s Association (WSSDA) Annual Conference. Superintendent Jeff Snell addressed topics learned at the conference, which include the following:
- Budget process
- Communication with community
- Social emotional learning
- Changes in law/requirements/procedures
- Best practices related to inclusion, highly capable, pathways to graduation
- Hot topics around the state
Snell also identified CSD’s legislative priorities:
- Continue progress towards fully funding special education: Ensuring students served through special services have full access to their basic education, continues to require the use of CSD’s local enrichment levy. Possible solutions are 1) increase the multiplier for each special education student; and 2) lower the threshold required to attain safety net funding.
- Sustain regionalization: Regionalization factors for some districts begin declining in 2020-21, 1% per year. It is unclear why this is the case, and this is challenging CSD give the cost per employee will continue to rise annually. Possible solution: Do not phase out funding using “regionalization” existing factors over time.
- Update staff allocation formulas: The staffing allocations in the Prototypical School funding need updating. Not only are schools staffed beyond the allocations in important areas such as mental health and safety, the cost of each staffing unit exceeds the funding received. This is particularly evident in funding school administrators. Possible solutions: Begin phasing in updated ratios to achieve more realistic state-funding staffing levels and increase funding levels to better reflect market rate for positions; and follow recommendations of OPSI prototypical workgroup.
- Monitor the impact of School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB): As the new employee benefits system is implemented, assess the additional costs for school districts and the impact of enrichment levies. Possible solutions: Fully fund the cost of employee health benefits for all eligible employees; and, if unable to fully fund employer costs, adjust eligibility to reduce costs and align revenues and expenditures for SEBB.
Monthly Budget Report
Jasen McEathron, Director of Business Services, presented his monthly budget report. In the August 2019 Budget Status, preliminary vs. final, the numbers are:
- General Fund: Minor accrual adjustments
- Revenues: August revenues increased about $118,000.
- Expenditures: August expenditures increased $317,000.
September 2019 status:
- Capital Projects Fund — LGO Bond revenues of $5.27 million were received to reimburse the fund used to purchase the Underwriters Laboratory property.
- Debt service — normal
October 2019 budget status:
- General Fund: Local tax revenues of $3.62 million.
- ASB Fund: Normal activity
- Transportation vehicle fund — normal activity
- Head count: 7,407
- Basic enrollment continues at about 2.2 percent.
- Running Start is up 10 percent this year.
- CTE numbers are holding strong as well with over 7 percent growth in 9-12.
The CSD School Board meeting is held twice a month.