Sequim School Board leaders eye revenue increase for 2022-23

General fund could see bump of almost $1 million next year

SEQUIM — A draft of Sequim’s 2022-2023 school year projected the addition of about $960,000 to the district’s general fund.

“Even though it seems like a lot of money, it’s not,” Darlene Apeland, the district’s Director of Business Operations and Finance, told Sequim School Board directors last week.

If realized, the district’s general fund in mid-2023 would be about $3.3 million — enough to meet one monthly payroll.

“Everybody in the state is dealing with some situation like this,” Apeland said at the meeting last Monday.

District staff are busy preparing a budget that could total about $47.2 million in revenue and $46.3 million in expenses.

Local taxes and locally generated funds draw in about $8 million per year, and another $24 million in state-apportioned funds and special education funds.

State special-purpose funds draw about $6.5 million, and federal special-purpose funds — including federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds — that total about $8.7 million.

Expenditures anticipated in the budget that Apeland detailed to board directors last week include about $18.8 million for certified staff, $7.7 million for classified staff, $10 million in benefits, $3 million in supplies and $6.5 million for contracted services, among other expenses.

“This is not how [the budget] would look if we hadn’t had a pandemic,” Apeland told directors, explaining the district’s budget would be closer to $40 million to $41 million, but ESSER funds bump that total.

The 2023-2024 budget could see a significant drop, school officials noted, as ESSER funds are no longer apportioned.

The estimated $960,000 in revenue-over-expenses would help the district build up its percentage of ending fund balance, but still not more than about a monthly payroll to staff, Apeland said.

The district could ask for more funds in its local Educational programs & Operations (EP&O) levies but have historically been modest in its ballot proposals, Apeland said.

“We do ask for a low amount [in local levy funds]; we don’t want out community to be over-burdened,” she said.

The district’s budget draft estimates 2,480 full-time-equivalent students, a figure that includes Olympic Peninsula Academy and Dungeness Virtual School students but not an estimated 62.32 FTEs for Running Start students.

The district lost about 200 students from the 2019-2020 school year to 2020-2021 (2,618 to 2,404), when many Sequim students were learning in hybrid situations or remotely. That enrollment figure didn’t bump back up when schools were back to in-person in 2021-2022, as enrollment was up slightly to 2,408 students.

“Enrollment is dropping, dropping, dropping,” Apeland said.

Numbers have dropped at Olympic Peninsula Academy, Apeland said, which normally sees 95-100 students and had in recent years seen a significant waiting list. Apeland said the district hopes to see those numbers, and numbers overall, grow.

This year’s budget, Apeland said, looks to protect funding in several core areas, prioritizing funds for maintaining class sizes; students not meeting standards; certificated and classified positions; social and emotional learning resources; curriculum updates; technology upgrade; vehicle maintenance and professional development.

Details of the staff’s proposed 2022-2023 budget covers the district’s fiscal year from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2023. The board meets next on Aug. 1 but has set a workshop — and possible budget approval — for Aug. 15, school officials said. The budget needs to be approved by Aug. 31.

Administration changes

School board directors approved the resignation on Monday of Sequim High School Principal Shawn Langston, who led the school since 2002.

Langston’s final day with the district is July 29.

Langston and his wife, Shelley, were hired the same year, Shelley as special services director.

Directors last week also named Donna Hudson, principal at Greywolf Elementary School since 2010, the district’s Teaching and Learning Department director. The hiring makes permanent a move that saw Hudson move to that role from February through the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

Hudson’s duties include overseeing several district programs such as Title I, Highly Capable and McKinney-Vento, as well as curriculum adoption and review, then-interim superintendent Joan Zook said in March.

While Hudson worked out of the district office in recent months, Jennifer Lopez held the role of Acting Principal at Greywolf Elementary and Casey Lanning, formerly a music teacher at the school, was Acting Assistant Principal.

Before taking over at Greywolf in 2010, Hudson worked in the Sequim district as a teacher, guidance counselor and assistant principal for 21 years.

Athletic facility needs

Some progress is being made in forming an athletic facilities committee, director Larry Jeffryes said last week. He and fellow director Jim Stoffer are board representatives on the committee.

“[It’s] maybe the worst time in the world, because we have some immediate needs,” Jeffryes said.

Solutions to the athletic facilities, he said, are generally long-term and expensive.

Stoffer said he would like to see representation from athletic directors, Sequim Middle School and Sequim High School before the issues are brought back to the board level.

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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