Schoolboard approves 2005-2006 budget

Published on Thu, Jul 28, 2005 by ara Nelson

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School board approves 2005-2006 budget

By Tara Nelson

The Blaine school board voted this past Monday to pass a $17.8 million budget for the 2005-2006 fiscal year.

The budget has increased $1.5 million from last year’s budgeted $16.3 million as a result of an increase in general state funding, which is based on enrollment.

Last year’s total enrollment in Blaine’s K-12 schools was 2,065. That number is expected to increase to 2,167 for the 2005-2006 school year – 102 students more than the previous year.

The budget also includes a 1.2 percent salary increase for all employees. Washington state only compensates salary increases for a fixed number of teachers based on student enrollment but Blaine superintendent Mary Lynne Derrington said the district consistently employs more teachers than the state will subsidize.

To compensate the difference, Derrington said the district will pay part of the salaries using funds from I-728, an initiative used to generate school funds from state lottery revenue. This, she said, would maintain small class sizes and improve student placement based on individual needs.

“If we want the small classes and the offerings we have then we need to fund more teachers out of our operating budget and the I-728 monies,” she said. “This is why we certainly have more advanced placement than other districts of its size.”

The Point Roberts school budget – part of the overall budget – decreased slightly because of a projected drop in primary enrollment as well as the loss of a teacher and a full grade.

Derrington, however, said the Point Robert’s district still receives Remote and Necessary Grants, regardless of enrollment. The grants are state-funded allocations for schools with unique circumstances such as an isolated location, and do not reduce enrollment allocations.
“They are allocated money exactly like the other schools,” Derrington said. “They get the same proportionate amount.”

Other budget highlights include increases for fuel and gas expenditures, new hardware and trained personnel for a state-mandated student database, summer school, which is not funded by the state, an additional custodial position and a second school psychologist to determine placement for children with special education needs, Derrington said.

In other action, the board also voted unanimously to sell a seven-lot property, currently leased by the Border Brew espresso stand on H Street. Derrington said the expected sale could raise money for future capital improvement projects such as more classrooms and adequate bus parking.

“We had a teacher last year who was floating classrooms so we’re trying to be creative in finding new spaces,” she said. “We probably won’t get what we need, but it will be something.”
The property will be open for bidding beginning September 15. The bidding period will conclude on September 22.