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High gas prices impact CKSD budget

In light of continually decreasing enrollment numbers and persistently high gas prices, the Central Kitsap School District 2005-06 school year budget underwent several adjustments since its last presentation in front of the school board.

This week the board members approved the record nearly $104 million budget as presented by Paul McNeill, executive director of business and operations.

McNeill, who joined the CK School District in July, said he has been reading up on the “user-friendly” budget packets prepared for the school board.

One of the new adjustments to the budget he highlighted was a recommended $400,000 increase to the transportation department’s funds. Because of high fuel costs, “we needed to adjust the budget accordingly,” McNeill said.

According to his presentation, the changes made since the preliminary budget are to be covered by a $1.1 million Federal Funding Contingence.

“We have some assurances that the (federal) money is there and is forthcoming,” McNeill said.

An adjustment on which he was able to shine a positive spotlight was an increase in general fund revenues, used for all instructional and regular operation of the school district. The bad news, McNeill said, is the expenditures in that category of the budget, primarily because of salary adjustments, also rose over last year.

But it was the special education category that chipped away the largest chunk of discussion time. McNeill said the numbers in that slide of his presentation had not changed significantly since the preliminary budget. However, it was apparent the district would have to cushion the discrepancy between increased cost for special education programs and the inadequately increased state and federal support.

Board member Lee Ann Powers commented at the end of the budget presentation that something must be done on legislative level to compensate for low federal and state funding, which is not increasing nearly fast enough to account for the rising costs of providing special education services. More money then needs to be appropriated by school districts at the local level.

“It cannot be done at the expense of all other (programs),” she said.

“You are absolutely right, we are shifting money,” Superintendent Greg Lynch said.

Other voices chimed into the conversation and explained that among other factors, some changes in the criteria that qualifies school districts for state and federal funds is contributing to the financial burden on a local level.

Agreeing to follow any legislative developments on special education funding, the board of directors

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