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Future a little brighter for Tahoma School District budget

Tahoma School District officials will keep a close eye on spending this year, but will not have to lay off any staff.

In 2009 the Tahoma Board of Directors had to approve a budget with spending and staff reductions as a result of sharp reductions in state funding, according to information provided by district spokesman Kevin Patterson.

The budget for the 2010-2011 school is $65.8 million, which is about $1.6 million higher than the 2009 budget, and it will use $1 million from the district’s reserve fund, as well as a relatively slight increase in state funding — compared to last year — along with anticipated revenue from a school levy that was approved by voters in February.

Voters renewed an existing operations and educational programs levy, which was previously renewed in 2006 and was set to expire this year.

According to the district’s budget summary, Tahoma officials anticipate more than $16 million to be collected through property taxes assessed by the levy in 2011, with $2.75 million slated to go toward the capital projects fund while the rest supplements state funding or pays for technology programs, training, software and hardware used throughout the district.

The district is projecting a little more than 7,000 students in the coming school year with about 415 full time equivalent certificated employees and about 247 FTE classified employees, according to the district’s budget document.

In 2009 spending was cut by reducing the operating budget and paper usage in the print shop, cutting staff in the financial services and technology department, eliminating elementary and middle school summer programs as well as reducing 10.5 certificated positions among other things.

The district also increased fees last year for certain programs such as traffic safety education, school lunches, extended enrichment, all-day kindergarten, pre-school, Tahoma Learning Community as well as implementing pay-for-play fees for athletics.

In addition to the fact there will be no staff layoffs in this budget cycle, district officials said that administrators and classified employees who took pay cuts last year will see their salaries restored to 2008-2009 levels.

“Because of the fund balance and the levy dollars, we don’t have to look at staff or program reductions,” said Lori Cloud, director of financial services for the school district, in a statement.

District officials said they will continue to keep a close eye on spending for supplies, utilities, and contracted services.

Energy conservation efforts are among the strategies the district will continue to employ to save money.

A grant that paid to replace lighting in three schools with energy efficient lights “will help the district continue its success in reducing energy costs,” the statement said.

A hearing on the 2010-2011 budget is scheduled for the July 27 school board hearing which starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at Central Services Center, 25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Road S.E.

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