School districts unveil new budgets

"The new budgets approved by the Coupeville and Oak Harbor school districts last week reflect that the cost of education, like most everything else, is going up.Luckily for both districts, the largest increase in cost — a 3 percent pay increase for all school employees — will be offset by dollars allocated by the state Legislature.Coupeville’s 2000-2001 budget comes in at close to $7.48 million, an increase of slightly more than $400,000 over the last school year. Even though the district is predicting a decrease in student enrollment, budget director Nancy Conard said district officials want to keep staff levels the same in order to keep existing programs operating.That means the district will operate with 69 teachers and administrators and the equivalent of 33 full-time, classified employees. Enrollment is expected to be 1,098 students, which is a drop of about 30 kids from last year. Enrollment has been declining in the district for about four years. The biggest drops this year will be at the seventh- and eighth-grade level.Conard said that since state funding is based on enrollment, the district will use some of its local levy money to keep staffing levels at current levels.In Oak Harbor, enrollment is also expected to go down. The district is predicting 6,005 students, which is an overall decrease of about 50 students from last year’s numbers. The largest drops are expected in first, 10th and 11th grades. Grade 11 alone will see 78 fewer students than last year. The largest increases in enrollment will be felt in second and eighth grade.The Oak Harbor general fund budget for the coming school year stands at about $37.2 million. That’s a boost of $1.4 million over the 1999-2000 budget.As with Coupeville, the major contributor to the bigger budget is a 3 percent salary hike authorized by state legislators last year. The Oak Harbor District will employee 364 teachers and administrators and the equivalent of 201 full-time, non-teaching staff.Thanks to “Better Schools” grants, also approved by state lawmakers, the district is able to hire about six new teachers, an extra full-time and one part-time counselor and a third school nurse this year.The Oak Harbor School Board adopted the new budget Monday. Coupeville’s board approved its budget July 18."

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