CK school levy passes — District budget discussions continue

The Central Kitsap School District supplemental levy officially passed and was certified by the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office at the end of February.

With a total turn out of 15,593 voters, 50.26 percent, or 7,837 voters, supported the levy.

The levy will bring in $7.6 million to the school district in a two-year period beginning in 2013. This will be a 62-cent increase per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value.

The additional money will help minimize the impact of the school district’s budget deficit. For the 2012-2013 school year, the district faces a $6.3 million budget shortfall.

However, factoring in the supplemental levy and proposed state budgets, the shortfall for next school year could be an estimated $1 million.

“In terms of where we are with the approximate $1 million shortfall, we’re going to have to wait on the Legislature to wrap up their work,” district spokesman David Beil said last Friday.

The programs or positions that will face cuts or reductions in the school district have yet to be determined as discussions surrounding the budget continue.

Another set of community budget forums will take place. One was scheduled to take place Thursday and a second will be next Wednesday, March 21. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Jenne-Wright Administration Center on Silverdale Way.

The district had a first round of budget forums for the community and staff members in September followed by another set in January and an online budget survey available at the end of February.

“If we continue to see a bad forecast, we’re in good shape,” said Superintendent Greg Lynch at a Central Kitsap School Board study session meeting last Thursday. “We won’t be starting with a blank piece of paper.”

The significant budget shortfall for the next school year is due to state and federal cuts as well as the loss of Heavy Impact Aid. School districts with large military populations receive the federally-funded Heavy Impact Aid. Over the past five years ,the district had received nearly $8 million in the aid.

The district’s appeal on the loss of Heavy Impact Aid is moving forward and Lynch said there is a “50-50” chance of it being restored. If the challenge to the Department of Education is not successful, the district will be eligible to reapply for the funding in 2014 with the heavy impact payments beginning in 2015.

If Heavy Impact Aid is partially or fully restored, Lynch said the district would rebate the levy dollars to taxpayers.

“We have to,” added Christy Cathcart, school board member.

Although data has been gathered from staff and community members, some say nothing concrete has been identified. The January budget forums had participants prioritize a list of items equating to $12.3 million that are not funded by the state.

“What we decide now with the budget is our starting point,” said board member Eric Greene, referring to if there is a need in the future to make more reductions. “We haven’t identified where we’re at yet.”

The school board will likely receive a presentation of options and recommendations for the budget at its March 28 meeting followed by an approval of educational programs and staffing plan as well as a resolution at the end of April.

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