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Cutting School Budgets

The financial challenges families are experiencing in these harsh economic times also affect our public schools.  Rising costs, state cuts and declining enrollment make it difficult to balance next year’s budget while keeping schools operating as usual.

Sadly, our state does not make budgets for public schools very easy to understand. A new system is starting this year that will hopefully make the process easier to understand and explain to our community.

In the current system, simple math does not fully explain the intricacies of how our schools are funded. Monroe Public Schools annually provide documents to help with clarification in what we hope are easy to understand terms. Even with these documents it can be cumbersome to digest all the data. We encourage those with questions to contact the Communications Office.  We are happy to help with your questions.

Helpful documents include:

How Schools Are Funded

2010-11 Budget Talk

2010-11 Executive Summary

Updated documents are currently being prepared for the preliminary 2011-12 budget that was recently released.

Monroe Public Schools is reducing costs of about $2.9 million to balance its operating budget for next year. About half ($1.2 million) of the cuts are due to declining enrollment. We expect about 168 less students in the 2011-12 school year than were expected to attend in the 2010-11 school year.

Enrollment projections

The remaining reduction is a result of recent state action to balance the state budget. To accurately assess the changes in state support, the state provides a table of existing state revenue provided this year versus what is expected next year.

To date changes in state revenue

This table does not represent the true cost of operating public schools. For many, many years local taxpayers have had to supplement state dollars to fully fund public education. The “learning” levy is decided locally by voters and helps support the purchase of new textbooks, transportation, and staff. Monroe is fortunate to have a levy in place but voters will have to renew that funding in February if it is to continue beyond 2012.

Even with this information, not all of the facts needed to complete the budget have been supplied by the state. A very important area of information that is needed is the expected reductions for Alternative Learning programs such as Sky Valley Education Center and the Washington Virtual Academy. State decisions are expected in late July.

On Monday, July 18, the School Board will hold a special meeting beginning at 4:30 p.m. to further discuss the 2011-12 operating budget. The community is always welcome to attend. Included in that discussion will be a comparison to actual revenue received in 2009-10 (the last year that final totals are available) to what revenue is expected in 2011-12.

Comparison of revenue

In addition to state reductions, our schools are facing rising costs in everything from bus fuel to copier paper. Rising costs, state cuts and declining enrollment make it difficult to balance next year’s budget while keeping schools operating as usual.

Additional community involvement will be available at a public hearing on the proposed budget to be held on Monday, August 8 at 6 p.m. Adoption of the budget is expected to follow during the School Board meeting on Monday, August 22 at 7 p.m. All meetings of the School Board are open to the community and are held in the schools’ Administration Building, 200 East Fremont in downtown Monroe.

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