Our Budget Picture
The pandemic has brought unforeseen challenges to our school district budget, as it has in so many other areas. We are grateful for the additional federal funds appropriated by Congress to help us weather these challenges.
Highline is receiving $84 million in federal COVID relief dollars, known as Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. These are not ongoing funds. They are one-time funds to be used to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, and there are restrictions on how they can be spent. The funds cannot be used for salary increases or other ongoing expenses.
ESSER funds are coming to school districts in phases. Here is a breakdown of how we spent the first round of funding.
|Professional Development, Planning and Classroom Supplies||$289,504|
|Technology: Devices and Connectivity||$3,543,245|
|Health & Safety: PPE, Cleaning Supplies and Building Signage||$669,271|
|Maintaining Education Jobs: Waskowitz and Other Positions||$1,518,113|
We have listened to our families over the months since the pandemic began to learn their needs, concerns and priorities.
Many families have reached out to the superintendent, staff, and the school board directly through email. We have held multiple Thoughtexchange processes asking families to share concerns and needs. Families, students and staff have participated in three perception surveys (Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.) These feedback loops have guided our decisions about how to spend ESSER funds.
Investing in Student Mental Health
Based on feedback from families and staff, as well as our own data on student mental health, we will spend nearly $1 million to ensure that every school has at least one full-time counselor.
The state funds counselors based on enrollment, and with enrollment declining, Highline was slated for fewer counselors for 2021-22. We will use ESSER funds to ensure that all schools have full-time counselors. The state is slated to increase funding for counselors in 2022-23. ESSER funds will fill the gap until then.
A portion of our ESSER dollars is designated as community-directed funds. We are asking our community to decide how this $4 million portion should be spent. We are inviting community members to volunteer to serve on our Committee on Allocating Resources Equitably (CARE).
Please visit our CARE web page for more information.