Public to get look at Sequim School District budget during Wednesday meeting

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– A spending plan for the coming school year dominated by personnel costs will be put before the public Wednesday.

The Sequim School Board will consider a $27,531,529 budget for the 2014-2015 school year.

“I think budgetarily, we're in a very solid position for the next year,” Superintendent Kelly Shea said.

The hearing will be during the School Board's meeting at 7 p.m. in the board room of the district office at 503 N. Sequim Ave.

Scheduling conflicts prompted the board to move the meeting from the usual Monday.

The proposed budget is a slight increase from the 2013-2014 budget of $27,158,273.

More than 80 percent of the budget, $22,167,576, is slated to pay for salaries and benefits of school employees.

“We're a pretty people-intensive business,” said Brian Lewis, district business manager.

District officials have estimated the student body of all of the district's schools will decrease from 2,699 during the last school year to 2,682.

“Even though we're declining in the overall student population, we're seeing a lot of growth coming in the elementary grades,” Lewis said.

Those younger grades require more teachers, Lewis said, and that is the reason for an increase in staffing across the district from 279 employees last school year to 296 employees in the coming year.

Next year's budget plan includes funding to make more room for those younger grades and for the implementation next year of all-day kindergarten classes.

Two more portable classrooms are slated for purchase this year to make more room at the Helen Haller Elementary School, which is currently at capacity.

“Every classroom in the district is going to be used,” Lewis said.

Two portable classrooms were purchased last school year.

One is being installed at Helen Haller and the other at Greywolf Elementary. They will be used as computer labs during the coming year.

Taxpayers in the Sequim School District will have lighter property tax bills next year, as a pair of tax measures expire at the end of 2014.

A bond issued in 1996 to build the middle school and renovate the high school will be paid off at the end of the year, Lewis said, and the one-year levy approved by voters in 2013 that was used to update the district's bus fleet also expires Dec. 31.

That leaves only the $1.61 maintenance and operations levy on the district's tax rolls.

A full breakdown of the Sequim School District's 2014-2015 budget proposal can be viewed on the district's web site at tinyurl.com/PDN-ssdbudget.

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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 18. 2014 8:15PM
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