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Spokane Schools looking at $436 million budget and considering bond for November ballot

UPDATED: Tue., June 26, 2018, 9:43 a.m.

FILE - The Spokane Public Schools administrative building in 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE - The Spokane Public Schools administrative building in 2017. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Public Schools officials are looking ahead to next week, next year and the next decade as they assemble a $436 million budget for next year.

In the short term, the district board is expected to provide Superintendent Shelley Redinger with a preliminary budget for that would boost support in several key areas:

    $450,000 to increase the daily pay rate for certain hard-to-fill positions, especially in special education programs.

    $433,570 for additional staffing and other improvements in the Summit Program.

    $270,000 to add counselors at the middle-school level.

    $150,000 for expansion of language immersion programs up to Grade 2.

    $120,000 for increased direct support of libraries.

The district also faces a $656,000 increase in its transportation budget after signing a new five-year contract with Durham School Services. The hike is driven by additional technology and higher wages for drivers.

Some of the district’s major academic goals in 2018-19 include development of a K-12 science curriculum and improvements in the Language Immersion Program.

The work continues Wednesday night during the regular board meeting at 7:30 p.m. The district hopes to finalize the budget in mid-August.

Still under consideration is additional funding for more mental health counselors, but the district received a boost last week with a $450,000 grant from Spokane County.

The timing couldn’t have been better. During its June 13 meeting – two weeks after a shooting threat at Lewis and Clark High School – the board heard pleas from several parents to increase spending in that area.

The country grant “is very good news,” Redinger said.

The district also projects $450.2 million in revenues for next year, or a surplus of $14,196,000.

That would give the district a cumulative surplus of almost $40 million going into the following year.

However, the budget outlook gets cloudier in the 2019-2020 budget. Current projections show a $30 million deficit, which would erase three-quarters of the cumulative surplus.

Also on Wednesday, during a special meeting which begins at 5 p.m., associate superintendent Mark Anderson will update the board on progress toward partnerships with the city of Spokane that could lead to a bond measure being place on the November ballot.

The bond would include funds for three new middle schools; the replacement of Glover, Sacajawea and Shaw middle schools; renovation or replacement of Joe Albi Stadium; and other projects.

In its current form, a bond would cost $505.3 million, with another $57.9 million in state construction matching funds.

The district has until mid-August to place the bond on the November ballot.


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