Update on the School District's budget

Update on the School District's budget
Posted on 03/17/2023
Budget Update

On Tuesday, the Stanwood-Camano School Board is scheduled to hear a Reduced Educational Program plan, which will help the district work to create a balanced budget.

As detailed in our recent Budget Update messages, several factors have combined to impact our finances. Nonetheless, we are committed to ensuring fiscal integrity while focusing on student learning.

Some of those financial factors include:

  • Loss of state and federal COVID-19-related funding

  • Estimated cost increases in employee contract obligations

  • Reduced cash reserves due to multiple years of state funding reductions in salary regionalization funding

  • Capital Projects/Technology Levy Failures

The bottom line: We are facing a potential $8.5 million deficit for the 2023-24 school year. While this is substantial, we have encountered and persevered through difficult times before and are confident we can do it again.

Throughout this process of reducing the budget, our District Promise and Strategic Plan help guide our decisions when making reductions and restoring programs when appropriate. Some of those factors include:

  • Prioritizing student instruction and learning over other areas to help equip every student with the knowledge, skills, and attributes essential for a purposeful and productive life

  • Honoring current contractual obligations

  • Fulfilling state and federal legal requirements

  • Maintaining a minimum fund balance as required by board policy and “rightsizing” the budget so that expenditures do not exceed revenues

  • Preparing as best we can for other unanticipated factors as we develop the 2023-24 budget that could affect the recommendations for reductions to the educational program 


We have been analyzing district expenditures and gathering staff feedback on how to reduce the predicted 2023-24 deficit. We anticipate every school district department and each school will see budget impacts moving ahead.

District staff are continuing to refine the Reduced Educational Program plan for the superintendent, who will then provide a formal budget to the board this summer with proposed reductions. However, there are still several elements in play:

  • The state Legislature is still in session and could change school district funding

  • Cost-of-living adjustments for staff have yet to be determined by the Legislature

  • Current or future year savings or unanticipated expenditures can help or magnify the issue


What is proposed to be reduced?

The proposed budget reductions impact everyone. Since staff make up the majority of the budget, personnel reductions are needed to balance the budget.

The proposal is to reduce spending from the budget among Certificated staff by approximately 8.6%, among Classified staff by approximately 6.9%, and among Administrators/district office staff by approximately 10.6%. Non-salary costs are proposed to be reduced by approximately 16%.

How many people will lose their jobs?

The exact number is not yet known.

The Reduced Educational Program plan proposes making some reductions of Full-time Equivalent (FTE) positions in order to balance the budget. However, reducing 1 FTE doesn’t always equate to reducing 1 staff position — for example, vacant positions can be left unfilled, several part-time positions could be reduced to equal 1.0 FTE, or a retiring staff member’s position could be redefined in the coming school year.

Determining the exact amount of staff reductions will take place in the coming weeks and involve analyzing state legislative outcomes, projected enrollment, building needs, and labor contract rules to finalize staffing levels.

Can the district dip into its “savings”?

The district budgeted to use about $4 million from the “savings” — referred to as the General Fund balance — to cover the budget gap for this current school year.

That is estimated to leave the General Fund near the School Board-required minimum level — not enough to cover the projected budget deficit in the next school year.

Maintaining a “savings” is important to ensure the district is able to meet its financial commitments each year as well as respond to sudden changes, emergencies, and/or new priorities while ensuring fiscal solvency. 


How are ESSER Grant funds being used?

By the end of this school year, the district expects to use most of the funding awarded from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program (ESSER), which was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These expiring federal funds reimburse school districts for qualifying expenditures. Some of the areas where those federal funds have been invested include: staffing and learning loss, cleaning and health safety, nurses and testing, food service, technology to support students, and other pandemic related needs.

What is being done now to help mitigate the reductions?

The sooner the district can reduce expenses, the greater the impact will be over time, so the district has been making reductions during this school year, including:

  • Tightening operating budgets, used for things like supplies, services and travel

  • Reducing printing and mailing costs

  • Analyzing all positions that become vacant and replacing only if necessary

  • Reducing use of substitutes where possible

  • Another item that can mitigate the deficit is additional funding from the state legislature, but the budget impacts are generally not finalized until just prior to the session close, which is scheduled for April 23 this year.

What’s next?

The district will continue to meet with labor partners, track changes at the state level, and monitor other financial changes.

By late April, the district expects to notify certificated employees who are part of the reduction in force (RiF) process. Classified employees will be notified by mid-May.

In August, the district will present the proposed 2023-24 budget to the Stanwood-Camano School Board for a public hearing and then adoption.  

Visit our Budget webpage for more updates.