Join our community conversation about budget

  • Spokane Public Schools released its draft 2019-20 budget, which has been written with much public discussion and input over the past several months.

    The draft budget was presented at a school board meeting last month and can be viewed online along with a budget overview video and graphic. The school board will consider the budget during its regular meeting on Wednesday, July 17, at 7 p.m.

    Engagement throughout the months-long budget process has included three open houses, a budget forum, several chances for public comment at board meetings, and an online discussion and breakdown. More than 2,500 people participated in an online ThoughtExchange, sharing more than 1,900 comments and leaving more than 106,000 ratings.

    The board established three budgeting principles:  protect basic needs for all students; maintain essential support services; and meet legal compliance and educational standards. The 2019-20 budget year runs from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31.

  • Our incredible students, families, and staff are on our mind as work begins on next year’s budget. We greatly appreciate everyone’s commitment and dedication to ensure students love school and find academic success.

    We are reviewing and renewing priorities, confirming revenue sources and amounts, and re-evaluating expenses to continue our commitment to delivering educational excellence for everyone. 

    question mark  Find more answers to budget-related questions here.

    Checking our assumptions

    "2516 participants, 1932 thoughts, 106314 ratings. 40% of participants shard thoughts, 54% rated thoughts, 57% explored thoughts

    We engaged you in conversation through ThoughtExchange, and you told us to balance the budget and still maintain quality education by:

    1. Prioritizing students
    2. Protecting class sizes
    3. Recruiting and retaining quality staff
    4. Reducing resources away from the classroom first
    5. Considering health, wellness, safety as basic expectations
    6. Investion in behavior intervention resources
    7. Urging the legislature to fully fund education
    8. Continuing the transparency and updates

    Budgeting Principles

    Being thoughtful and responsible with the money you entrust to us sometimes involves difficult choices about how we spend it. This year will require even greater focus on priorities and our three budgeting principles:

    • Protecting basic needs for all students
    • Maintaining essential support services
    • Meeting legal compliance and educational standards

    grad cap We must continue pushing our high school graduation rate above last year’s district-record 88 percent, progressing toward lower class sizes, adding learning intervention support and leading practices in social emotional learning, and enhancing safe and productive learning environments for our students and employees.

    Late last summer, the legislature cut in half the amount we can collect from the local levy and increased state basic education funding to more equitably support the needs of Washington’s 295 districts. This still left districts short of the actual cost to cover basic needs.

    The net result is our financial commitments – nearly all of them made using information and guidance prior to the legislative action – are now growing faster than the money coming in. Initial budget projections show a sizable gap that we will navigate thoughtfully and deliberately. All of Washington’s school districts are adjusting to the new state model and addressing budget impacts.

    Feeling the McCleary Effect

    scissors The new state funding model significantly changed the landscape and is causing districts to make major adjustments. The new model still leaves much of the expense of meeting basic student needs to local levies, which have been cut drastically.

    • Increased state funding to districts for basic education
    • Decreased amount of local levy dollars district can collect by $43.5M
    • Restricted use of local levy money for educator salaries
    • Restricted the experience factor in state allocation for educator salaries

    A Matter of Need

    safety Families expect a safe, productive learning environment in our 55 buildings. The state allocation only covers about one-third of the cost of these critical needs. 

      State Local Total
    Nurses 5 28 33
    Counselors 58 85 143
    Safety Officers 6 17 23
    Psychologists 1 27 28
    Mental Health Therapists 0 44* 44

                           *via grant funding

    Current discussions in the legislature about funding for special education and state-mandated employee benefit changes are very much in flux, ongoing, and currently well short of local costs so our revenue projections are conservative.

    Investing in Student Learning Support

    round chart depicting 74%
    Budget invested on teaching & support 
    round chart depicting 25%
    Gap in state funding for avg. SPS teacher salary
    round chart depicting 60%
    SPS budget from state general purpose funding
    round chart depicting 12%
    Special ed state funding ~ $7.2M less than need

    Saving for a Rainy Day

    scales The board established a reserve target of 5-6% of general fund expenditures for one-time, unforseen risk and financial uncertainty. Bond rating agencies use reserve levels to assess the district's fiscal health and ability to address future priorities and uncertainties. Restricted balances are NOT included in the minimum fund balance requirements because they are either required reserves or non-cash assets. 

    Description Amount % of GF
    Total Fund Balance* $40.1M 9.72%
    Less: restricted balances    
    Non-spendable pre-paids $3.9M  
    Debt Service $5.8M  
    Self-Insurance $2.9M  
    Skill Center $0.5M  
    Total Restricted Fund Balance -$13.1M -3.17%
    Net Fund Balance* $27M 6.55%
    Estimated Fund Balance** $23.2M 5.07%

                            *8/31/18 actual **8/31/19 projected

    magnifying lens We are reviewing our expenses to identify even more ways to stretch our dollars and opportunities to re-imagine how we provide the educational experience students and families expect from SPS. Current efforts to reduce spending include:

    • Careful review of all open positions
    • Offering a one-time incentive for giving early retirement notice
    • Reviewing staffing principles

    We have identified these initial approaches:

    1. Reduce central office support spending, which is 4.5 percent of the budget, and reprioritize future allocations to reduce impacts at the school level, where 79.3 percent of our resources are currently committed. Several central office positions have been eliminated, reconfigured, or replacement delayed to save through attrition.
    2. Tighten individual school budget spending. We have slowed spending this year to save as much as possible and reduce next year’s budget.
    3. Focus class size reductions on early learning levels for greatest long-term impact and target a K-3 class size ratio of 20 to 1. This may lead to additional combination classrooms and increases in staffing ratios for grades 4-12.
    4. Review staffing and school-level allocations. We are delaying decisions to further refine our financial position and direction before making commitments and to reallocate existing staff before posting new positions.
    5. Consider all ideas and engage school leaders in the process to maximize thinking and family considerations and continue valuing the important work teachers and staff do while we work together toward solutions.
    6. Engage the broader SPS community in prioritizing for the future of our students.

    SPS Fast Facts

     SPS has 29467 students, 2073 teachers, 55 sites, 4110 employees