Recently school board members approved a $78.3 million 2018-2019 General Fund budget following months of study and input. Board members used district savings reserves to help balance the budget as a result of the levy funding reductions realized by the McCleary “levy swap” impact. Budget revenues for 2018-2019 are based on an FTE enrollment count of 5600. The budget includes negotiated salary agreements with PSE and WWVEA, and other cost-saving and efficiency measures.
Walla Walla Public Schools will see its levy funding drop from $11.3 million last year, to $7.8 million in the 2018-2019 budget, down to $5 million in 2019-20, as the McCleary levy cap of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation requirements takes hold. The McCleary decision centered on easing the burden on local taxpayers to fund basic education, placing greater reliance on state funding sources.
Although a win for local taxpayers who will see a $500 a year property tax reduction on a median-priced home in 2019 and moving forward, school district operations will need to adjust to this new funding reality. The Board discussed the district’s need to align expenditures over time to align with new revenue projections if funding adjustments are not addressed by the legislature. In an effort to stave off such reductions, Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors chose to partner with a professional lobbyist this school year. The lobbyist will work with state lawmakers in Olympia to put in place adjustments in the McCleary decision to benefit districts like Walla Walla where new state revenues are not keeping pace with local levy reductions.
PHOTO L-R: School board members Sam Wells (Vice President), Terri Trick, Derek Sarley (President), Ruth Ladderud and Dr. David Hampson.