$55 million budget set for 2014-15 MISD school year

The $55 million annual budget for the Mercer Island School District takes months to prepare. It provides for the very smallest items — such as filling a gas tank to hiring a technology specialist, to the very largest — the construction of a new elementary school. The budget is set to be finalized by the Mercer Island School District Board of Directors Aug. 28.

Beyond the challenges of building new facilities and upgrading existing ones, other challenges add to the complexity of running modern facilities that meet the needs of children of all abilities to receive the kind of education that will prepare them for the challenges in the years ahead, said school district finance director, Dean Mack.

One of the most complex challenges presented during this current budget cycle involves student transportation.

Over the past few years, more than 200 students have gotten to school via Metro bus routes that include the articulated buses on routes 891 and 892 serving the high school. However, Metro routes 203 and 205 will end on September 27. The school district, required by law to provide transportation to students, must make up that lost service. The district will replace those routes with route 894 on September 29.

The budget this year is 3.8 percent higher than last year's budget due to some inflationary pressures on everything from food to health insurance and utility rates. Mack noted that the addition of between 60 and 70 students this year will add $600,000 in costs for the coming term. School staff received 2.1 percent salary increases.

On the capital side of the budget, the costs of building new facilities funded by bonds approved by the voters, is reflected in the capital projects fund. Also included is the capital levy that funds major maintenance projects in addition to technology.  The levy funding includes both hardware and software, as well as teachers, technicians and administrators to manage district technology resources, he explained.  The debt service fund provides the budget for principal and interest payments  on the bonds approved by voters.

The budget, broken down into several categories, will provide learning services for 4,204 students in the coming year.

Just under 60 percent of the budget is designated for the Classroom/Student Services category which includes: teachers, administrators and counselors, salaries, supplies, materials, textbooks, curriculum development, training and technology support.

Next, 14 percent of the total is for Support Services which includes 44 FTEs involved in maintenance, administration, support staff, custodial, and payment of utilities, security and insurance. Twelve percent of the budget is for special education services; three percent for food; and 4 percent for transportation.

Just over half of the funding for the school district comes from the state. Just a fraction, 4 percent, is from the federal government, much of which goes to special education. Local levy money provides just over a quarter of the total. Just under 14 percent comes from tuition or fees charged for all-day kindergarten, school lunches and facilities use. Other earnings such as interests from investments are also included.

The Mercer Island Schools Foundation and the PTA together donated $2.38 million this past year to the school district.

Grant for MISD ‘Highly Capable Program’

The Mercer Island Board of Directors approved the application for a state grant to help fund the school district’s Highly Capable Program as allowed under state laws RCW 28A.185 and WAC 392-170. Under these laws, highly capable students are defined as; “students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences or environments. Outstanding abilities are seen within students’ general intellectual aptitudes, specific academic abilities, and/or creative productivities. These students are present not only in the general populace, but are present within all protected classes according to chapters 28A.640 and 28A.642 RCW.”

The School District received  $37,932 in the 2013-2014 school year and will receive $40,770 for the 2014-2015 year. The funds provided by the state help defray costs related to staff professional  development, enrichment for students, assessment eligibility and instructional materials.

The coming year will be the first year of a K-12 continuum of service model, the school district said.The grant and this model will provide an increasing level of educational personalization of education for students, the report said.


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