Educate yourselves with ‘Your Schools’

By Dr. Marci Larsen, Superintendent | Jan 28, 2010

Sometime soon, you will receive a publication in the mail called “Your Schools.” We send the publication to all Mukilteo School District residents three times a year to let them know what their school system is doing.


“Your Schools” is especially valuable in helping us communicate with those in the community who pay their taxes for schools, yet have no day-to-day contact with the school system because they have no children or because their children are either grown or not yet old enough to attend school.


The topic of the current issue of “Your Schools” is money.

A year ago, the funding of public schools was an issue that received widespread coverage in the local press. Facing a budget shortfall of $9.3 billion, the state made large cuts in a number of programs, including its funding of public education.


This hit us hard because, like every school district in the state, we depend heavily on state funding to operate our schools. The state, with a mandate from the state constitution to fund basic education, will provide about two-thirds of the operating revenue that we will get this year.


Last year’s cuts in state funding for education resulted in our own budget shortfall of about $6.2 million. After a great deal of debate, we eventually met that challenge by eliminating 11 elementary support teacher positions, cutting much of the extended-day activities that supported students who were struggling to learn math and reading, reducing professional development opportunities for teachers, and cutting 7th grade sports and many other programs.


As the latest issue of “Your Schools” reports, the Mukilteo School District continues to be in sound financial shape. We are keeping expenditures within budget, our administrative costs remain lower than most of the largest school districts in the state, and we still spend a higher percentage of our budget on teaching and teaching support activities than most other school districts.


Funding for our school system continues to be uncertain, however. Voters in the school district are now considering the renewal of an Educational Maintenance and Operations levy that provides about 20 percent of our total operating revenue.


That levy, which expires at the end of this year, provides money for programs that the state doesn’t pay for, such as additional teachers to reduce class size, sports and instrumental music programs, student transportation, teaching assistants and much more. If approved by voters, that levy funding will continue for another four years beginning in 2011.


The state is also talking about more cuts in funding for public education. Now facing a budget shortfall of another $2.6 billion, the lawmakers in Olympia are discussing further cuts that will likely cause us and other school districts in the state to sharpen our pencils once again and try to find other areas where we can cut expenses.


With these challenges facing your public school system, it’s important that you understand how public schools get their money and how that money is being spent. I hope that you will take a few minutes to read the “Your Schools” publication when it arrives in your mailbox.

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