News

Coupeville School District has the budget blues

"The following are some of the reductions in Coupeville School District spending - because of decreasing enrollment - expected for the 2001-2002 school year. Also included is the dollar amount saved per cut.* Basic education staffing down by 2.2 full-time employees, $127,600* District office staff hours reduced by 728 hours, $11,157* Technology budget reduced by $46,470* School board budget reduced by $7,500* Superintendent's budget reduced by $2,600* Business office budget reduced by $900* Volunteer coordinator budget reduced by $700* Special education budget redcued by $2,000* Furniture budget reduced by $6,784The district is also facing increased expenses over which it has no control, Conard said. Some of these increases are:* Unfunded salary increases, $40,000* Increased utility costs, $15,000* Increased insurance costs, $1,605* Increase costs of bus maintenance, $10,000* Increased participation in Running Start, $24,423Like Oak Harbor, Coupeville School District is facing budget cuts in the upcoming school year, citing decreasing enrollment and state budget reductions as the cause.Unless we have an increase of students it means reducing expenses, Nancy Conard, the district's budget manager, said Monday. Conard took the $7.5 million proposed budget, a process she began last January, to the school board at its meeting Tuesday night.While the recent voter passage of initiatives 728 and 732 provide for extended learning opportunites at the elementary level and faculty and staff cost-of-living increases, the reduction or elimination of the block grant and traffic safety education by the state Legislature are the two areas of funding cuts most affecting the budget, Conard said. Coupeville School District will lose $12,000 in block grant money and all funding for drivers' education classes, for which the state used to pay two-thirds. Parents will have to pay the full cost of driver's education for their student.Full-time student enrollment, expected to be 30 students fewer for the coming school yearcompared to last year, means the district will lose about $120,000 in funding. Additionally, Coupeville School District cannot count on federal impact aid - money the federal government pitches in to compensate for tax-exempt federally-owned land in the district - because the Navy's Outlying Field has no employees stationed there. Impact aid is paid when a child's parent or guardian works on the federal property. Overall, Coupeville School District receives up to $30,000 a year when students enrolled in the district have a parent working on Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Oak Harbor.The cuts combined have depleted Coupeville School District's fun balance - money kept on hand to pay bills - to projected $37,971. The fund balance should remain between $225,000 to $350,000, Conard said. To bring the balance up, spending cuts were necessary.Since 75-percent of the district's budget goes to staffing, there will be cuts to several staffing areas for the 2001-2002 school year, Conard said.In her position as business manager, Conard was not the one who decided on the cuts. Since she began the budgeting process last January, she said she has received comments and direction from district administrators and staff.You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at csmith@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611 "

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