You may have seen in the news that state lawmakers raised the cap on local levies, which was lowered as part of the McCleary school funding plan. We are grateful to our legislators for restoring levy funding and thankful that Highline voters approved these funds to support our students.
The change takes effect in January 2020, so we will receive half of our voter-approved levy amount for the 2019-20 school year. The increase in levy dollars will reduce--but not eliminate--the budget shortfall we face for 2019-20.
We will still have to make staffing reductions due to lower enrollment. We anticipate reassigning affected employees to vacancies created as others retire or relocate.
We will also go forward with about $1.5 million in cuts to central office.
By budgeting our state and levy dollars conservatively, we will spend less of our savings. This will limit the cuts we have to make later if enrollment continues to decline over the next couple of years, as expected.
In addition to the loss of state funding due to declining enrollment, increased benefits costs and special education costs are contributing to our shortfall. Though the legislature did pass a small increase in special education funding this session, we need about $10 million more than we get from the state to adequately serve our students with special needs.
The change in levy funding was approved by lawmakers at midnight on Sunday, so we are still working out how it impacts our 2019-20 budget. The school board is expected to approve a final budget in June.