School budget proposed
Highline public schools will spend $147.9 million during the 2005-06 fiscal year if a general operating budget presented July 13 is approved.
Under the proposed plan outlined for school board members by budget director Melissa Patterson, the district will take in revenue of $147.4 million and use $500,000 from the general fund balance.
The district would still have $7.4 million in reserves.
The $7.4 million is within district guidelines of maintaining an unreserved general fund balance of between 3 and 5 percent, Patterson noted.
Capitol budget expenditures would be $89.5 million, according to the plan.
The district will rebuild Mt. Rainier High as well as Bow Lake and Cedarhurst elementaries.
Newly-rebuilt Mt. View and North Hill elementaries will open in September.
During a budget hearing, there was no public comment.
Board members are expected to vote on the budget Aug. 10.
Patterson said the legislature increased state spending for schools, particularly in raising matching funds for school construction.
"We benefited a great deal from the (state) capital budget," Patterson declared.
Additional funds will come in from increased federal grants and an additional $1 million levy increase, she noted.
District officials also estimate the district will save $1.2 million per year with the closure of four schools.
Board members decided April 21 to close Sunnydale, Salmon Creek and Olympic schools last month. Valley View Elementary is scheduled to close in June 2007.
Patterson outlined the district's goals and guidelines for the expenditures:
Literacy will remain a primary academic focus while the district develops a district-wide math initiative and begins small learning communities within high schools.
The district also wants to attract and retain high quality staff and maintain facilities.
Federal and state fund grant programs will pay for themselves and fees will be revised to cover program costs.
Police officers will be assigned to high schools.
Additional resources will be directed to Tyee and Evergreen High Schools, which are in low-income areas.
After conferring with legal counsel during a short executive session, board members unanimously awarded contracts for desktop computer equipment and construction at Mt. Rainier High School.
Earlier, Don McKay from Alden Associates complained that district staffers had incorrectly scored his company's bid for the computer equipment contract.
However, board members awarded the contract to Unisoft, Inc.
In a letter, Garco Construction had also complained about the rejection of its Mt. Rainier construction bid.
District staffers said the bid had been nonresponsive concerning Disadvantaged Business Enterprise participation goals.
Board members gave the contract to the next lowest bidder, Lydig Construction.
They also approved a $9.7 million increase in the construction budget for the Des Moines high school.
Staffers attributed the increased cost to "a very active building climate in the Northwest." They cited volatility in material and systems costs, increasing labor costs and higher contractor cost margins.
Mt. Rainier's total construction costs are now set at almost $73 million. The funds will come from the district's capital projects funds budget.
Board members heard a request from Cyndi Upthegrove of the Highline Historical Society that the school district help the society in obtaining school memorabilia for a planned museum in Burien.
Upthegrove noted that the society could provide educational programs for students.
John Welch, in his first board meeting as the district's new superintendent, said the district would work with the society when possible.
Board vice president Steve Denmark announced he will run for a seat on the Burien City Council.
After the meeting, he said he would probably file for the seat now held by Councilwoman Joan McGilton.
Although he will be leaving the board in December, Denmark said that if elected to the city council, the district would "always have a friend at city hall."
Mengstab Tzegai, previously appointed to the board to represent the Northeast Highline area, announced he will run for election to the board.