This section of the Community Report is meant to show you the money!
The Superintendent, working with the Chief of Finance and Operations and a citizen financial advisory group, prepares an operating budget prior to the beginning of each school year, which must be approved by the School Board and submitted to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction before August 31. Our District has been recognized for its fiscal management (such as keeping administrative costs more than 2-percentage points below the King County average) by earning the highest bond rating on Moody's scale of any school district in the state.
For 2012-13, the District has a $167.5-million operations budget (a cost of $32.30 per second to run during the school year). The operations budget is used to fund all programs, services, textbooks and materials, salaries—everything needed to run the District day to day. The majority of the District's operating budget is provided by the state on a per-pupil basis. However, this formula does not fully cover the cost of a modern education, and the District relies on a local maintenance and operations (M&O) levy to provide more than 20-cents of every operations dollar. The M&O levy helps cover the gap between what the state provides and the actual cost of staff salaries, transportation, and special education services. Further exacerbating the funding shortfalls, the state does not apply its formula in an equitable way across school districts. Issaquah ranked 266 out of 295 state school districts in 2010-11 in per-pupil funding (Issaquah receives $9,001.12 per student, compared to the state average of $9,760.32). Recognizing these gaps and equities, the Washington Supreme Court in January 2012 ruled that the state is not meeting its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education.
Over the past four years, the state has cut more than $16 million from the Issaquah School District's operations budget. At the same time, lawmakers authorized a 4-percentage point increase in the amount of dollars that districts can raise through the local M&O levy. Because of this increased M&O levy alongside strategic operational reductions, the district has been able to offset the state’s cuts while focusing on protecting classroom resources.
Outside of the operations budget, district voters can authorize bonds and levies when needed to build new schools and buy school buses and certain pieces of technology. These dollars can be used exclusively for their legally-defined purposes (construction/critical repairs, bus purchases, and technology), and cannot be used to bolster the general operations budget. For example, a school bus levy can be used to buy a bus, but the money to pay the driver, buy fuel, and maintain the bus comes from the operations budget. The Issaquah community approved three significant 4-year levies in February 2010, which have been supporting classroom learning, bus efficiency and safety, and technology. A community committee will begin planning replacement levy measures in spring 2013 to go before voters in early 2014. To ensure optimal learning and safety, voters approved a $219 million bond measure in April 2012 that will provide for critical construction and maintenance/repairs for the next eight years.
In sum, our classrooms do amazing work creating the highest standards of educational program with limited resources. Community groups such as the Issaquah Schools Foundation and PTSA make that possible.
A Guide to Understanding the Financial Plan as well as the complete line-by-line operations budget (received annually each winter when available from the state) are posted online.
For more information about the condition and use of our facilities, please see the District's annual Facilities Monitoring Report to the School Board.