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Budget, Levies & Bonds
2011-2012 Battle Ground
School District budgets:
-- General Fund
-- Capital Fund
-- Debt-Service Fund
-- Assoc. Student Body Fund
School Funding in Washington -- and Battle Ground Public Schools
School finance in Washington is a complex subject. Parents, business owners and community members often wonder:
- How are their tax dollars used?
- How much money do the schools actually receive?
- If the state constitution requires full funding for schools, why are they being asked to pass school levies?
- Are requests for higher levies justified?
The Story Behind School Funding
Following a lawsuit in 1977, the State of Washington assumed a major role in financing public education. The lawsuit required the state to fully fund basic education and, at the same time, limited the amount of special levy revenue local districts were allowed to collect. The primary sources of state school funding are the sales tax and the state property tax.
The major problem is that state basic-education funding as defined by the Legislature -- about $5,000 per student -- is inadequate. More than 90 percent of the students in Washington are being educated in districts that supplement the state’s basic funding level. Battle Ground’s levy for 2009-2010, which was approved by voters in 2007, provided approximately $1,038 per pupil in addition to state funding.
How Washington compares to the nation
On Page 17 of its 2009 Annual Report, the League of Education Voters says:
Washington ranks 44th in the nation for K-12 per-pupil spending
Washington ranks 46th in the nation for student-teacher ratio
Washington ranks 21st in the nation for average teacher salaries
Primary sources of funds for Battle Ground School District
Battle Ground School District’s total operating budget for 2009-2010 was about $114 million. The state per-pupil funding for 2009-2010 was $5,083. All school districts in the state received a similar per-pupil allocation. The state per-pupil allocation accounts for approximately 57% of the district’s resources.
In the 2009-2010 school year, about 12% of the Battle Ground budget came from local levies, which must be renewed every two to four years by district patrons. Levies provide resources for reducing class-sizes and for curriculum, counselors, extra-curricular activities, gifted programs and a variety of other program assistance.
School districts also receive state and federal funding for students with special needs, such as gifted and special education and those studying English as a second language. Less than 10% of the district’s resources come from federal funding.
Battle Ground and neighboring districts are especially limited in the amount of money their residents can provide in the form of maintenance and operation levies. That’s largely due to the lack of industry, which typically has a higher rate of property assessment than residential property.
Teacher salaries are established by the state and are generally uniform across the state. Washington has a statewide salary schedule. A teacher in Battle Ground earns about as much as a teacher in Bellevue with equivalent education and experience, Regional cost-of-living differences are not taken into account. Teachers’ salaries vary from district-to-district if the teacher works beyond the 181 days the state funds. In 2009-2010, a beginning teacher earned $34,426 for working 181 days. Based on the experience and education of the teachers in Battle Ground School District, the average of all teacher salaries was $52,340.
How the money is spent
Battle Ground Public Schools, like most school districts, spends approximately 80% of its budget for salaries and benefits. In order to balance the 2009-2010 budget with cuts in state funding, all district employees took between 3.8% and 4.0% reductions in pay in the form of unpaid furlough days, loss of professional development days or actual salary reductions. The remaining 20% of the budget is primarily spent on maintenance, utilities, liability insurance, curriculum, technology, classroom supplies, custodial supplies, and bus fuel.
Each school receives an allocation, based on enrollment, for office and classroom supplies, copiers, staff development and other expenses costs.
Capital Projects, ASB and Debt Service Funds
In addition to the general fund, the district has three other funds for which it is responsible. The general fund accounts for the day-to-day operations of the school district. The other funds are for specific purposes and cannot be used to pay for teacher salaries or school operations.
The Capital Projects fund is for school construction and receives its support from state matching funds, voter-approved bond issues, impact fees and investment earnings. This fund is used for school construction or renovation and major system replacements such as plumbing and heating systems.
The ASB (Associated Student Body) fund accounts for optional noncredit extracurricular activities of students. It is financed primarily through the establishment and collection of student fees.
When voters approve a bond issue to finance a capital project, they also authorize property taxes to pay for the project. The Debt Service fund is established to pay principle and interest over the life of the bonds.