Student fees lessened in Sequim schools budget

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Students at Sequim schools will pay less than they did last year to attend classes when school resumes in two weeks.

“Kids are going to be able to take a lot more classes now because the fee is not there,” said Kelly Shea, superintendent of the Sequim School District.

A total $31,000 reduction in fees for classes that count toward graduation was part of the $27,158,273 budget for the 2013-2014 school year that was approved by the School Board on Monday night.

There was no comment during a public hearing held before the vote.

Students and their families will no longer have to pay for classroom supplies ranging from $3 notebooks for biology classes to $50 supplies for a glass fusing class.

“Students should not have to pay to come to school,” Shea said.

The fees were a small part of the district’s annual spending plan, business manager Brian Lewis said.

Having the district pay for things such as welding and woodworking supplies, photography equipment, engineering utensils, even hand sanitizer in the district’s elementary schools makes it easier for students to take classes that match their interests, he said.

“We hope this removes barriers that might have been there,” Lewis said.

Total fees made up 2.33 percent of the district’s 2012-2013 budget.

In the upcoming school year, fees will be 1.8 percent of the district’s revenues, Lewis said, with the bulk of that total coming from lunches purchased in the school cafeteria.

No state worries

The district’s teaching staff will be down from 164 to 162 next year. Lewis said that reflects an anticipated drop of 30 students in the district, not a drop in funding from the state.

“This is the first year in four years we haven’t faced a reduction in state support,” Lewis said.

“We created a bit of a hole spending our reserves to backfill was lost. This year and next, we’ll be able to start filling back in that hole.

“Next year, we’ll be able to start putting dirt on top so we can build more programs for our students.”

State funding will provide $18,512,978 of the 2013-2014 budget. For the 2012-2013 school year, the district received $17,377,614.

Local revenue will increase for the school year as proceeds from the levy approved by voters in February begin to roll in next January.

Local taxes will account for $5,780,000 of the school’s funding next year, up from $5,373,947 for the past school year.

No cuts to classes

The elevated funding from the state means the district will not have to cut any of its class offerings in the upcoming school year, Lewis said.

“The last couple of years, we’ve had to do that if there weren’t enough kids enrolled in a class,” Lewis said.

Spending on teachers will increase slightly in 2013-2014.

The upcoming year’s budget spends $18,356,870 on teachers and classroom support, up from the $18,155,190 in the 2012-2013 school year.

The district has few capital projects on the 2013-2014 agenda, with the largest project being a $125,000 installation of an elevator in the district office to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Committee planned

Much of the year will be spent planning, as a special committee reviews the district’s facilities to see if it needs to build, remodel or leave alone schools in Sequim, Shea said.

A special committee also is studying the costs and benefits of implementing all-day kindergarten classes for the 2014-2015 school year, Lewis said.

The district opted not to offer all-day kindergarten for the upcoming school year, citing a lack of space and a lack of funding to provide all-day kindergarten at Greywolf Elementary School.

The district would have had to pay $300,000 of its own funding to implement it there.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 20. 2013 4:52PM
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