The Chimacum School District has been operating on a budget deficit for the last three years with excess funds to cover the difference, but this will be the last year it can do so before those …
The Chimacum School District has been operating on a budget deficit for the last three years with excess funds to cover the difference, but this will be the last year it can do so before those reserves run out.
The Chimacum School Board unanimously approved the budget for the coming school year at its meeting July 27. The plan includes more than $14.4 million in funding with a projected $15.3 million in spending, leaving a deficit of $840,000.
Last year’s budget had $13.8 million in revenues with $14.8 million in spending and a $990,000 deficit.
While the state has been providing money to help with enrollment stabilization in past years, that support will end before the start of the next school year, officials noted.
Actual enrollment figures for the last budget year had 690 full-time students while next year’s budget plans for 654.
Enrollment in the district has been on a downward trend since it peaked in 1998, Superintendent Scott Mauk said.
The staff does in-depth projections each year on enrollment with three different models, using the average from those for their budget.
“Kindergarten is the hardest to estimate for the budget, so it’s helpful that staff does a great job of getting people to register,” Assistant Superintendent Art Clarke said during the meeting.
When asked why enrollment has been steadily declining, Mauk mentioned that in the past, the district has gotten something of a bad rap.
“I think that people have been displeased with the leadership,” said Mauk, who came aboard as superintendent just over a year ago.
“I think time will tell if I can change that story. But I feel confident about the staff around me,” he said.
One of the biggest changes to that staff has been replacing a few of the teachers who have retired or moved out of the district with new counselors.
“Our school board is really committed to supporting students. That means we really need to support their social and emotional needs,” Mauk said.
Another way the district is supporting its students is by offering free meals. And this isn’t just the mystery meatloaf of olden days; these meals are sourced from local farms.
One of the district’s funding issues has been the special education program’s $500,000 deficit. The state has a cap on extra apportionment per student at 13.5 percent of the student population, while Chimacum has had 16 percent of its students in the program.
With all of these difficulties, administrators are still doing everything they can for their students, school officials noted.
“We’re doing more to meet kids’ needs with fewer bodies,” Mauk said.
After approving the budget for this year, the school board did a self-evaluation exercise.
While the board was able to share in successes, everyone agreed they could do a better job monitoring progress on district goals, effective instruction, and student achievement with data-based information.
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