Edmonds School District predicts $39M deficit by the end of 2022

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By the end of the year 2022, the Edmonds School District is projected to be about $39 million in the red.

That is what a four-year projection shows, according to the district budget presentation given to the Edmonds School Board Aug. 7.

During the Aug. 7 meeting, Stewart Mhyre, executive director of business and operations, made the normal budget presentation for the 2018-2019 school year. Then, for the first time in history, he delivered a four-year projection for the district, which is now required by new state legislation designed to meet the McCleary requirement to fully fund education.

The four-year projection assumes that nothing changes in the district from the 2018-2019 school year — meaning no new staff are hired and no current staff retire or leave. Enrollment is assumed to be flat and no changes in federal funding are accounted for. Levy amounts used in the presentation are based on state projections.Expenditures are projected to rise — which is solely based on current collective bargaining agreements set between the district and unions — and revenue is expected to decline, resulting in a $39 million deficit by the end of calendar year 2022.

Though revenue from the state is expected to increase each year, revenue from local levies is expected to decrease sharply starting in 2019. McCleary legislation requires a cap on funds collected from local levies. That cap must be either $1.50 per $100,000 assessed value, or $25 per student, whichever is lower. The district’s current levy, approved earlier this year, is at $1.50 per $1,000 based on that cap requirement. The former levy was at around $2.35 per $1,000.

“There is still a narrative out there that McCleary fixed it and education is fully funded, and that is absolutely not the case,” Superintendent Kris McDuffy said after the presentation.

Mhyre also identified specific gaps in education funding from the state. For example, the state pays for 25 librarians, but the Edmonds School District employs 33. The state allocates three nurses district-wide, but the district currently has 12. The Edmonds School District has 49 counselors, but the state only funds 39.

In order to make up the funding gap specifically for basic education staff, the Edmonds School District would need an additional $35 million from the state. Special education programs need an additional $5 million.

“This state still, as this really shows, has a number of funding gaps for school districts just to operate efficiently,” Mhyre said.

The Edmonds School District is not the only district facing this problem across the state. Similar stories have recently been told in Seattle, Kittitas and Ellensburg, for example.

“In the next few weeks, more and more districts will be wrapping up their budget and you’ll see more and more of this,” Mhyre said.

–By Natalie Covate

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