School Board Looks at Budget Ahead of Vote

The Vashon Island School Board considered the district’s 2021-2022 budget, set for a vote next week.

At a meeting on May 27, the Vashon Island School District school board took a look at the district’s 2021-2022 budget, set for a vote on June 10.

The 35-page document — which can be viewed at tinyurl.com/m35wk43r — was presented by Kay Adams, finance director for the district, and Matt Sullivan, the district’s executive director of business and operations for the district.

Budgeted annual expenses and revenues for 2021-2022 are set at $26,186,194 — a 2.03% increase from the 2020-21 budget of $25,665,416.

Notable line items include a 3.4% increase in salaries for certificated staff and a 5.4% increase in salaries for classified staff. Benefit costs, however, were down 3.1%, due to the percentage of staff member retirements and a benefits decrease.

In all, personnel costs account for 77% of the budget, with the remaining 23% earmarked for a wide range of materials, supplies and operating costs. These percentages matched VISD’s 2020-21 budget.

In terms of district revenue, the 2021-2022 budget will see a drop of almost 270,000 in state funding, due to a drop in enrollment at the district — reflecting the state’s allocation of approximately $10,000 per student in its funding.

However, federal revenue is projected to increase by $734,130 in 2021-22, thanks in large part to the receipt of additional funding from the federal pandemic relief program, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). VISD also received almost $600,000 in ESSER funding in 2020-21 in two installments.

Sullivan estimates that the third ESSER funding cycle will net the district another $1,059,000; however, only almost $452,000 of that amount is budgeted for 2021-22 — the remainder will be spread out through 2024 by the district.

ESSER funds have been allocated in multiple budget categories, including the school lunch program, pandemic-related technology, shortfalls in enrollment, increases in custodial supplies and notably, programs that mitigate pandemic-era learning loss in students, including VISD’s free Summer Learning Academy, set to launch in July.

Supt. Slade McSheehy also noted, at the board meeting, that ESSER funds will enable VISD to keep counseling and nursing staff at current levels, despite a drop in enrollment.

The ESSER funds are received through invoicing the program for reimbursement of expenses.

The board of directors had been prepped for the report in previous recent meetings, with reports from various directors of school district office, including Matt Sullivan and Amy Sassara, human resources director for the district. At the May 27 meeting, the board generally praised the process with which the budget had been prepared and raised few questions about planned expenditures and sources of income.

However, director Bob Hennessey proposed one revision — to eliminate student fees for some programs and families. In his proposal, preschool fees for families eligible for free and reduced-price school lunches would be eliminated, and course work-related fees would be eliminated for all students.

Student fees for many optional activities, including athletics, would remain intact.

These changes would cost the district approximately $18,000 in revenue from the 2021-22 budget as currently written.

Hennessy characterized student fees as regressive, disproportionately harming low-income families on Vashon, and noted that it was board policy to keep student fees as low as possible.

Zabette Macomber, board president, agreed with Hennessey’s characterization of the $18,000 in income as “eraser dust” in the $26 million budget, and McSheehy agreed to work with Sullivan and others to review and adjust the line item in the final budget prepared for the vote on June 10.


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