On Wednesday night, the public will get its last, best chance to offer input on next year’s Spokane Public Schools budget.
At the same time, district officials are expected to offer more insight into the district’s financial situation, which this spring led to widespread layoff notifications.
In the meantime, some teachers and other personnel have been recalled. Though the district has yet to offer a final number on how many of the 325 will be back, it’s expected that almost half could return by fall.
The district expects to have a better idea by the end of the month, said Brian Coddington, Spokane Public Schools spokesman.
The community budget forum will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the district’s downtown offices. Linda McDermott, the district’s chief financial officer, will make a 15-minute presentation that will include a review of budget estimates and a presentation of initial recommendations.
At that point, the public will be invited to comment.
“We hope to hear from the community,” said Superintendent Shelley Redinger, who will attend along with other district officials and most if not all of the board of directors.
The board, which has until late August to adopt a final budget and perhaps decide whether to hold a vote on a supplemental levy, will hold a work session next week.
Redinger is scheduled to present an initial recommended budget at the board’s June 26 meeting.
After receiving less aid than anticipated from the Legislature this spring, the district faced a projected deficit of about $21.5 million next year.
That number is expected to change as end-of-year retirements, districtwide cost-cutting efforts and other factors take effect.
According to the presentation scheduled Wednesday, the district expects to begin the next school year with a fund balance of $36.1 million.
It projects revenues of $458.7 million and expenditures of $456.8 million. That would leave a total fund balance of $38 million by the end of the school year. However, $12.4 million of that is restricted money, which represents required reserves or noncash assets.
If projections hold, that would leave the district with an unrestricted fund balance of $25.6 million. That’s more than enough to cover the deficit, but in order to cover unexpected setbacks – such as loss of revenue from a drop in enrollment – the district has typically maintained a minimum balance of 5% of the total budget.
In a budget of $456.8 million, that would be about $22.8 million, which would offer the board some flexibility to restore a few programs.
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