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MLSD OKs $123.8 million budget

Staff Writer | August 31, 2020 1:20 AM

MOSES LAKE — Moses Lake School Board unanimously passed its $123.8 million operating budget for the 2020-21 school year at an online meeting Thursday.

Board members also approved a $40 million capital budget to continue work on both Groff Elementary School and the proposed new high school that will focus on vocational education, currently informally referred to as the “Real World Academy.” They also approved a $617,000 transportation budget, $4.8 million for debt payments, and a $1.3 million Associated Student Body Fund, which helps pay for sports and student organizations, for the 2020-21 school year, which starts on Sept. 1.

At a budget hearing Thursday, MLSD Chief Operations Officer William “Joe” Connolly told board members that 8,062 students had enrolled for school this fall, slightly exceeding the district’s budget estimate for enrollment of 8,035.

“But many have not selected an option,” Connolly said.

In July, the board voted to provide parents and students with three options for education: full-time online learning using the district’s specialized curriculum; a blend of in-class and online education; and full-time in-class instruction with students grouped into cohorts.

However, at the Thursday meeting, board members voted to effectively make high school classes entirely online until COVID-19 numbers fall significantly.

“Students are not making selections,” said Superintendent Josh Meek. “And we’re looking closely at kindergarten enrollment.”

As part of preparing the coming school year’s budget, Connolly and Meek assumed a 5 percent drop in enrollment in grades 1 through 12, and a 10 percent drop in kindergarten enrollment.

The budget as passed outlines the same spending in several different ways: by program, such as “regular instruction” and “support services”; by activity, such as “teaching” and “central administration”; and by “objects,” such as salaries, benefits and maintenance. All add up to $123.8 million in operating expenditures.

Of that, the district is budgeting $52.3 million for 565 full-time certificated salaries, $19.4 million for 389 full-time classified salaries, $31.3 million for benefits, and nearly $7 million for supplies.

The district anticipates 217 Running Start students, 148 students in its dropout re-engagement program, and another 144 students in its alternate learning environment program, where some or all of the instruction is delivered outside of a regular classroom, bringing the total expected enrollment 2020-21 enrollment to 8,544.

Around $6.7 million for the operating budget is expected to come from local property tax levies; $108.6 million from the state as part of the statewide property tax levy; and $7.4 million from the federal government.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at