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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