District superintendent discusses budget with community members

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Superintendent Kris McDuffy speaks to community members about the district’s budget at Meadowdale High School.

When it comes to funding Edmonds schools, Superintendent Kris McDuffy says she has both optimism and concerns — optimism for funding from the state, but concerns for federal funding.

That’s what she told a small group of people at a community budget meeting on Wednesday, March 22 at Meadowdale High School, 6002 168th St. S.W.

“I believe this is the most hopeful time in our state’s history in terms of full-funding of basic education,” McDuffy said. “At the federal level, we are really concerned in terms of the possible reductions we may see.”

The Edmonds School District gets approximately 67.9 percent of its total budget from the state and 6.1 percent of its budget from federal sources. The remaining chunks of income are 22.4 percent from the local levy, 1.9 percent in local non-tax funding and 1.7 percent from other revenues, such as county-level grants.

The largest chunk of that money, 86.2 percent, funds salaries and benefits for district staff, including mostly teachers, but also teaching support and administrators, among others. Other costs include 9.6 percent going to contractual services, 4.1 percent going to supplies, and 0.14 percent other expenses.

The 6.1 percent chunk of income from the federal level is primarily funding for federal special education programs, as well as funding for Title I, Title II and Title III programs, which each have their own guidelines.

McDuffy explained that Pres. Donald Trump’s version of the federal budget, which was presented last week before it goes to Congress to be further negotiated, showed an approximately 14 percent reduction to public education. Our online news partner The Seattle Times has more details about Trump’s budget proposal at this link.

“The president’s version of the federal budget in terms of funding public education is a drastic difference than we have seen in decades,” McDuffy said. “We’re really concerned. For us, that would be a huge hit.”

For example, just the cuts to professional development funding would equal about $600,000 for the Edmonds School District.

However, McDuffy’s hopes remain high at the state level, which also makes up the largest chunk of income for the Edmonds School District. The state legislature is now down to the wire to fully fund public education, as demanded by the McCleary decision made by the state Supreme Court in 2012. For a breakdown of that lawsuit from The Seattle Times, click here.

“This is it,” she said. “This is (the session) where they have to have a solution. They also must have the revenue to support it.”

Timing, however, could prove to be problematic. State legislators are scheduled to meet through April 23. However, many expect additional sessions to be called. Meanwhile, the Edmonds School District needs to have a budget prepared by summer.

“We need to proceed with some initial planning, but not having a target or clear parameters from the government is challenging,” McDuffy said.

So she and district staff are holding these community budget meetings to ask for input on where the gaps are in education funding at the moment, and what families would like the district to focus on as they begin planning their budget.

For a more detailed look at the district’s 2016-2017 budget, click here to view the Citizen’s Guide. To give feedback on budget priorities online, click here, then click “Feedback” and fill out the form.

Three more community budget meetings are scheduled for the near future as follows:

  • March 29, 7–8 p.m., Lynnwood High Theater
  • April 12, 4–5 p.m., Mountlake Terrace High Theater
  • April 19, 7–8 p.m., Edmonds Woodway High Theater

–By Natalie Covate

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