This year, a school budget that gives instead of takes

Proposed $93.5 million package in Olympia includes $2 million in enhancements

lpemberton@theolympian.comMay 15, 2013 

After several years of budget slashing, the Olympia School Board has been given a proposed spending plan that is filled with the “e” word: Enhancements.

Superintendent Dick Cvitanich presented his proposed $93.5 million budget package for the 2013-14 school year during Monday night’s meeting. It includes about $2 million worth of new line items, including money to fund smaller class sizes at elementary schools, to offer free all-day kindergarten at the district’s two poorest neighborhood schools, and to restore 1.5 days of classroom time for students that’s now waived due to teacher and staff furloughs.

“The goals were to craft a budget that sort of addresses the drastic cutting we’ve seen in recent years and meet the district’s most pressing needs, based on the community, staff and student input that we’ve received,” Cvitanich said. “The second goal was to craft a realistic budget that doesn’t overspend and provides the board with various spending options.”

He said the enhancements would be funded with money generated from the maintenance and operations levy that voters authorized to increase in 2014, additional state funding that appears to be headed to the district, and revenue generated by an increase in the number of students expected to enroll in Olympia schools next year.

Major changes from this year’s budget include:

 • $1.06 million to restore 1.5 school days for students and furloughed employees.

 • $450,000 to adopt a new math curriculum for elementary schools and teacher and staff training for it.

 • About $130,000 to fund all-day kindergarten classes for all students at Garfield and Madison elementary schools.

 • About $800,000 in staffing costs that would shrink class sizes around the district, boost the number of administrators at large schools, increase language-interpreting services available for schools, support more staff training opportunities, help the district go digital with school records and offer more counseling support for students.

School board president Eileen Thomson said it’s still early in the budget process but that she was excited to see that the district’s proposal include some enhancements.

“We’re certainly in a better starting point than we’ve been in the past few years,” she said.

School board member Justin Montermini said he felt the package was well researched and reflected the feedback that was generated by the district’s online budget survey.

“It’s a pretty good proposal — there are still some areas for discussion,” he said. “We’re working with a lot of uncertainty because we don’t know what the Legislature is going to allocate to us yet.”

The School Board has scheduled two forums and several meetings to discuss the budget.

Officials are hoping the board will adopt a budget by June 25, Cvitanich said.

Lisa Pemberton: 36-754-5433 @Lisa_Pemberton

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