You have probably heard the news that state lawmakers raised the cap on local levies, which was lowered as part of the McCleary school funding plan. We are grateful to our legislators for restoring levy funding that Highline voters approved to support our students.
The change takes effect in January 2020, so we will receive half of our approved levy amount for the 2019-20 school year. The increase in levy dollars will reduce--but not eliminate--our shortfall for 2019-20.
Most of our staffing reductions are due to lower enrollment, so those reductions will not change. We anticipate that most will be absorbed by vacancies as employees retire or relocate.
We will also go forward with about $1.5 million in cuts to central office. Keeping these cuts in place will allow us to spend less of our savings (the acorns we squirreled away). This will limit the cuts we have to make later if enrollment continues to decline over the next couple of years, as expected.
Other items contributing to our shortfall are increased benefits costs due to SEBB and special education costs that continue to exceed what the state funds. Though the legislature did pass a small increase in special education funding this session, we need about $10 million more than we get from the state to adequately serve our students with special needs. It is critical that we continue to budget conservatively.
The change in levy funding was just approved by lawmakers at midnight on Sunday, so we are still working out how it impacts our 2019-20 budget. We will keep you informed.
Chief Financial Officer
Highline Public Schools