Mercer Island schools head into new year with solid budget

Despite worries early in the year about budgetary forecasts, the Mercer Island School District will enter into the 2010-2011 school year with few budget concerns.

“We entered this budget year with a lot of trepidation,” said Dean Mack, the executive director of business services for the district. “We were all concerned with where the district and state were headed, but several events coalesced to pull us through.”

Those events included the Mercer Island Schools Foundation raising $850,000 for the district and the state Legislature approving the 4 percent levy lid increase, allowing the district to collect more from the already approved levies.

Mack said during the Mercer Island School Board’s Aug. 5 meeting that the levy lid increase almost offsets the funding cuts made by the state. Plus, the funds from the MISF will allow the district to hire 10 new teachers, five for the middle school and high school, and five for the elementary schools. The local gift monies, which include the MISF funds, make up 13.5 percent of the districts budget.

The state funds make up 55.2 percent of the district’s overall revenue, with local levy funds comprising 25.7 percent. The federal government kicks in about 5.4 percent toward the overall amount, most of which Mack said goes to funding special education.

Approximately 60.3 percent of the district’s spending is done on basic education classroom and student services, which are direct classroom and building support costs. This includes paying teachers, purchasing materials and textbooks. Fifteen percent of the district’s expenditures support basic education support services, which include district administrators, support staff and utilities. The district spends about 5.1 percent of the budget on other grants and programs, which include programs such as the full day kindergarten. That program consists of about 40 percent of the 5.1 percent total.

This fall the district will hire 23 new staff, according to Superintendent Gary Plano. Nineteen of those staff members have already been hired for the upcoming year, but four positions are still open.

“This is the first large class (of new staff) in about four years,” said Plano.

Mack said the district has projected enrollment for the new year to be at approximately 3,921 students, slightly down from last year. He said that is mostly because the 2010 graduating class was large, so the count is a little lower, but still within the budget projections.

While the overall count is down, the district is expecting a larger group of kindergarten and first grade students, and is working on confirming the number of students who will start school at the end of the month.

“We’re working to make sure these students will be showing up,” said Plano. He added that they want to stave off any possibilities of the classrooms being overloaded when school starts again, and confirmation is the extra step before they start working on other scenarios.

The district’s guide to understanding the budget can be found online at

There will be a public hearing on the district’s budget during the Aug. 26 board meeting. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the MISD administration building. School starts on Aug. 31.

Enrollment trends at MISD

The district’s enrollment projects have been steadily increasing since the 2006-2007 school year. The district counts students for enrollment by full time equivalent.

• 2006-07: 3,884.11

• 2007-08: 3,844.89

• 2008-09: 3,880.73

• 2009-10: 3,950.96

The projected budgeted enrollment for 2010-11 is:

• 2010-11: 3,921.00

For more information go to

New IMS first day schedule

Islander Middle School starts classes on Aug. 31, along with all other MISD schools.

The first day schedule at IMS is different this year, introducing the Where Everyone Belongs (WEB) class.

The Aug. 31 schedule is:

6th-grade students and WEB leaders

8:25 a.m.: Start time

8:25 a.m.-11:25 a.m.: WEB Kick-off Assembly and Activities

11:25 a.m.-11:55 a.m.: Lunch for 6th-graders and WEB leaders

7th and 8th grade students

11:25 a.m.: Start time

11:25 a.m.-11:55 a.m.: Welcome Back Assembly in the Main Gym

6th, 7th and 8th grade afternoon schedule

1st period: 12:00-12:26

2nd period: 12:29-12:55

3rd period: 12:58-1:24

4th period: 1:27-1:53

5th period: 1:56-2:22

6th period: 2:25-2:50

For first day schedules for other MISD schools, visit

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