Whitefish School District Budget Reflects Rising Enrollment, Supply Inflation

Last week, the Whitefish School Board unanimously approved the school district’s final budget for the 2022-23 school year.

The budget for the upcoming school year is up $788,000 from last year, bringing the district’s total budget to approximately $24.9 million.

The school board approved the preliminary budget numbers in mid-July and the district made no changes until it presented the final budget on Aug. 9.

Elementary funds are approximately $16.9 million while secondary school funds are approximately $7.9 million. The combined elementary and secondary general fund is budgeted at $15.6 million.

Lucie Shea, business manager for the Whitefish School District, explains that the increase in the budget is mainly due to increased enrollment.

“Of all the funds, the Elementary General Fund budget has increased the most — by $472,000 or 4.7%,” Shea told the board. “The increase is primarily the result of an increase in student enrollment, particularly in middle school.”

Speaking about the preliminary budget at the July meeting, Shea highlighted the fact that budget expenditures have increased but revenue has also increased.

“Even though our spending budget is growing, so is our revenue budget because we have more state funding…” Shea said. “We have increased enrollment and this increase is most evident in the General Elementary Fund where the budget has increased by an additional $472,000 over last year.”

The general fund constitutes the majority of the budgeted funds and includes several sub-categories. The educational services category accounts for over 60% of the general fund in elementary and secondary school districts. This year, the educational services budget line has increased quite significantly due to the increase in staff salaries. At a previous meeting, the board approved a 3.25% increase for teacher salaries and a $2 per hour increase for classified staff to compensate for the rising cost of living and the higher than normal inflation rate. This was a larger increase than the usual annual increase in the cost of living.

Additionally, the district is bracing for rising inflation in common school supplies such as pencils, paper, notebooks, art supplies and more. Other areas were also budgeted with inflationary increases in mind – utilities, operations, maintenance, student transportation, textbooks, software, and platform subscriptions, to name a few. some.

“These budget areas are expected to be 7 to 15 percent higher than last year,” Shea said during both fiscal year budget presentations.

“We don’t know which category will increase by exactly how much, but all of this is being built into the budget as a cushion as we are already seeing increases, particularly on the supplies side. Every book, every pencil goes up,” she said.

In March, the district decided not to ask ratepayers for a voted levy for the third straight year, saying that with increased enrollment, the district was ready to balance the budget without a large levy.

They added a modest permissive levy to continue to raise funds from the Buildings Reserve Fund which helps to fund consequent building maintenance.

Between the high school and the elementary district, the building’s reserve fund is about $249,000.

To see the full budget, visit the Whitefish School District website or this direct link https://tinyurl.com/wsd44budget

About Margaret L. Portillo

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