Mercer Island School District budgeting finally underway

The Mercer Island School District had to wait to get final figures from the state in order to prepare their budget for the coming school term, which is now just weeks away. The MISD board of directors got its first look at the numbers at their meeting on Aug. 8.

The board, which did not meet in July, left June with uncertainty as to how much money would be allocated to the district, as the state budget had not yet been finalized before their final meeting in June. Yet, school districts will be receiving more money than in the last couple of years, as a result of the State Supreme Court requiring the state legislature to uphold the McCleary decision.

The Mercer Island School District has received some extra money from the state per the McCleary decision, to be used for classroom supplies and utilities, but the total amount cannot easily be identified.

“The state has not improved funding for four years,” said Dean Mack, the district’s Chief Financial/Operating Officer. “In fact, they dramatically decreased funding over that period of time. It makes it very difficult to identify what is catch-up and what can be attributed to McCleary.”

This year’s total enrollment is expected to be 4,126 students, only a slight increase from last year. Mercer Island High School’s enrollment, however, is decreasing slightly. Islander Middle School’s enrollment will increase by 2.6 percent.

According to the MISD 2013-14 budget, the beginning general fund balance is $4.9 million with $47.7 million in revenues, making the total funds available $52.7 million. With expenditures at $48.3 million, the projected ending balance in 2014 is $4.4 million.

The transportation vehicle fund includes money that will help purchase one new 78-passenger bus, and two 22-passenger special education buses with lifts. Those purchases are expected to cost around $500,000.

The district is also wrapping up construction this summer on the new concession stand and press box at the MIHS football stadium.

The project included a new press box and concessions stand building near where the old press box was, as well as an update to the restrooms at the stadium.

Other projects done this summer include: fire alarm upgrades, a generator/electrical upgrades at Island Middle School, adding a new portable to Island Park Elementary and doing technology improvements.

The presentation at last Thursday’s board meeting was the first reading of the new budget. The board is expected to approve the budget during the Aug. 22 meeting.

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