School board receives budget updates, Martha Lake Elementary student presentation

Students from Martha Lake Elementary School recite their school pledge for the board.

The Edmonds School District Board of Directors at its Tuesday, Nov. 22 meeting received a student presentation and school improvement plan from Martha Lake Elementary School.

During the presentation, students from each grade talked to the board about the school’s new pledge. Martha Lake Elementary Principal Stephanie Kay-Fredrickson said surveys were given to each class regarding what the pledge should be about. From those, staff pieced together the official pledge, which three kindergarteners recited for the board:

“I am a Martha Lake Mustang. We welcome everyone and celebrate our differences. We treat others with kindness and respect. We are brave, so we stand up for what is right. We persist, even when things get hard. We are capable of more than we can imagine. I am me. I belong. I am Mustang Strong.”

One student said she likes the pledge because it encourages uniqueness in its students.

“We want everybody to celebrate being different because no one is the same,” she said. “We want people to be themselves.”

Kay-Fredrickson said the themes school staff wanted to focus on were kindness, mindset and growth. The principal said she’s glad to see the positive effects the pledge seems to be having on the students. Many of the children have been excited to learn it, she said, and are happy to teach the pledge to others when asked about it.

“Thank you to my students for being super brave tonight,” Kay-Fredrickson said. “I’m very proud.”

In other business, the board also received an August and September district budget update. Executive Director of Business and Finance Lydia Sellie said the district had an unassigned fund target balance of 4% but surprisingly exceeded that expectation.

“I am pleased to say that we came in at 5.13%,” Sellie said. “That results in an additional $4 million over what we were expecting in the budget. So that extra $4 million that we’re up over the 4% will help us offset our predicted $9 million [unassigned fund balance] budget for this current year.”

Sellie also notified the board of some other changes. The food service balance portion of the budget was moved from assigned funds to restricted funds as per new accounting rules in the district. Staff have also completed all the special assessments regarding unemployment payments, Sellie said, so that is no longer reflected in the fund balance.

The executive director went on to say that the district’s expenditures are starting to look closer to how they did before the COVID-19 pandemic. During the 2021-22 school year, transportation expenditures only accounted for roughly 2% of the district’s expenditures, but this year it’s back up to 4% which is similar to how it was pre-pandemic.

“The [August] fund balance has decreased by just over $1 million, which is markedly improved over what we were budgeting earlier in the year,” Sellie added. “And normally the September [fund balance] is lower than, say, October, because we have a lot of purchases at the beginning of the year to get school started. But this one was a little bit unusually low.”

Sellie said the low fund balance is due to some abnormalities caused by the district’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund claims.

“What happens is we record that claim to August, so September automatically will have a deficit initially,” she said. “Then when the receipts [from that claim] finally come in [later in the month], October’s fund balance right-sizes itself.”

Sellie told the board that the ending fund balance for the month of September will be higher than usual because the district started out with more funds and didn’t overspend its dollars, which should benefit the month of October.

— By Lauren Reichenbach

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