Tumwater School Board approves $67.16 million budget without cuts

The Tumwater School Board voted 4-0 Thursday to adopt a $67.16 million budget for the 2014-15 school year.

School board member Kim Reykdal was absent from the meeting.

This year’s budget won’t feature any cuts to district programs, and is up from the 2013-14 budget of $64.97 million, according to district spokeswoman Kim Howard. It will leave the district with an ending fund balance of about $5.1 million, according to budget documents.

The spending plan includes:

• A new dean of students position that will be split between East Olympia and Black Lake elementary schools.

• More clerical support for high school counselors.

• New reading curriculum for kindergarten through eighth grade.

• The restoration of a full-time custodian which had been cut in an earlier budget year.

• A 5 percent increase in building budgets, restoring funding cut during previous funding cycles. The money can be used for things such as office supplies, library books, stipends for schoolwide assemblies, and other site-specific needs. “It’s all of their discretionary money, basically,” Howard said.

Also during the meeting, the School Board:

• Approved a policy about “an inclusive approach toward transgender students with regard to official records, confidential health and education information, communication, restroom and locker room accessibility, sports and physical education, dress codes and other school activities.”

• Heard a report by Capital Projects supervisor Mel Murray about the district’s capital projects.

The latest price tag for black mold repairs at Black Hills High School is $1.44 million, and the school is on track to be open in time for students next week, he said. The building’s air quality has been deemed safe, but workers will continue to monitor it, he said.

The district has checked for Mazama pocket gophers, which were recently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, at five sites that it wants to build on. Those sites include the campuses of Peter G. Schmidt and Littlerock elementary schools, which are getting new facilities through the 2014 bond package.

“We don’t have gophers on any of these sites, so we don’t think we have to worry,” Murray said.

District officials will need to work with the city of Tumwater, Thurston County and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to get the all-clear on gophers and habitat conservation before they begin each of the projects, he said.

• Heard a presentation by Human Resources director Beth Scouller on the district’s Affirmative Action goals. Historically, 12 to 16 percent of Tumwater’s elementary school teachers are male, and officials hope to boost that to 49 percent. The district also wants to strive for more diversity, particularly hiring staff with Hispanic, African American and multiracial backgrounds to better reflect the school and community, Scouller said. Right now, 93 percent of the district’s employees are white.

“We want the children to see men and women and diversity in a variety of roles,” Scouller added.