Adding all-day kindergarten, reduced class sizes in grades K-3
At its June 20 meeting, the Lake Washington School District Board of Directors reviewed a draft budget for the 2016-17 school year that enables the district to introduce All Day kindergarten for all students, reduce class sizes in grades K-3 and make other investments toward achieving the district’s strategic goals.
The draft budget included an increase of 5.8% in general fund revenues. Those revenues will rise from $304 million for 2015-16 to $321 million budgeted for 2016-17. The increase involved additional state revenue to fund basic education. Revenue also increased due to growing enrollment.
Over the past two years, the state legislature has begun to take steps to fully fund basic education because of the McCleary state Supreme Court decision. That decision ruled the state was not meeting its obligation to fully fund K-12 public education as required by the state constitution.
Expenditures will increase by about 5.7%, or $17 million dollars. The district’s growing enrollment requires more staff to serve them, part of the increased costs. The budget anticipates an increase of 681 students in 2016-17 to 28,410 students.
The district will also pay for All Day Kindergarten for all students, using the increased state funds. In previous years, parents had the option to pay for the second half of the school day: now all kindergarten students will be able to go to school for the full day. Additional state funds will be invested in reduced class sizes in grades K-3. Research has shown the greatest effect on learning achievement from smaller class sizes occurs in the early grades.
The district also will invest additional revenues in its strategic work. A multi-phase process collected and reviewed potential budget additions. A representative leadership team reviewed all budget requests as well as student and parent feedback before determining which investments to recommend.
“Our budget work and strategic planning must intersect,” noted Dr. Traci Pierce Superintendent. “By focusing new resources on strategic work, we increase the likelihood we will meet our goals.”
Highlights of these strategic goal funding additions include more special education support as well as support for accelerated programs. Added revenues will help the district recruit, hire and retain highly effective personnel.
The proposed budget that included these additions is posted on the district's website. The district invites comments from the community between now and the August 8 meeting. The board will hold a public hearing at that meeting. Members of the public will have an opportunity to provide input to the board about the budget in that hearing. The board will hold a final vote on the budget at that August 8 meeting. Comments on the proposed budget may be emailed to the district’s board of directors at email@example.com or mailed to Lake Washington School District, PO Box 97039, Redmond, WA 98073-9739.