Welcome to the toutle lake school district

November 4, 2019

 

To: All Staff and Community Members of Toutle Lake School District

From: Bob Garrett, Superintendent

 

The Fiscal State of Toutle Lake School District

 

    When I arrived in Toutle Lake School District approximately eleven months ago, I was impressed with many facets of the District. One in particular was the obvious attempt by the school board and administration to be excellent stewards of its fiscal resources. It can be a daunting task to keep a balance between its ending fund cash reserve each year, and at the same time make the needed expenditures to create an effective and successful learning environment for its student body and staff.

    Of course there are some other entities who provide fiscal support to the school districts: the State government, the federal government and the local community. In our case, the Toutle Lake taxpayers and voters have for years been generous in their much needed support to the youth of our district!

    For a few years now, the ending cash balance in the District’s General Fund has fluctuated between $1.5 and $2.1 million dollars. Those amounts have been sufficient to bring fiscal stability to the District, as well as have the ability to pay for costs related to any unexpected “big ticket” items.

    At its June 25, 2019, school board meeting; the board of directors approved Policy 6022 – Minimum Fund Balance - authorizing its administration to target a goal of 14 percent of the current year’s budgeted expenditures or two months of operating expenditures (whichever is greater) to address potential general fund needs and continue to maintain an acceptable and adequate minimum fund balance for district operations. At this time, this equates to approximately $1,475,000.

    While it has always been a bit unpredictable for superintendents and business managers to accurately forecast State revenue (with the primary driver of State revenue being student enrollment), their task became even more complicated with the fiscal impact of the recent McCleary decision handed down by the State Supreme Court.

    As a result of that decision, the legislature attempted to revise the State’s funding formula for public education in a way that would create a more equitable funding system across all school districts. Unfortunately, the attempt was (and to put it kindly) far less than successful. And now to “fix” its attempt, it has revised the amount of money that a community can approve in local taxpayer support via a school district levy.

    In 2017, the Toutle Lake voters approved a levy at an estimated tax rate of $3.00 per thousand of assessed valuation. This measure was to collect $1,110,000 over each of the next three years. With the McCleary decision and the legislature’s imposed restrictions, local communities could impose a levy no more than $1.50 per thousand for collection in 2019. Consequently the District lost approximately $400,000 in local tax revenue this year, as well as an amount over $100,000 in local levy assistance from the State.

    In an attempt to “fix” part of the problem, the legislature has now approved a maximum tax rate of $2.50 per thousand of assessed valuation. This will allow the District to collect the full amount of $1,110,000 in 2020, but it does not allow for the District to recoup what it lost in 2019.

    And so here we are today, attempting to interpret “revolving legislation” so that we can provide an effective and successful educational system; and at the same time being considerate of not wanting to burden the local taxpayer any more than necessary. The District will be running a replacement levy on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Please refer back to our website periodically for additional updates.

    And thank you for your support for the youth of Toutle Lake School District!

   

Sincerely,

 

 

Bob Garrett

Toutle Lake School District Superintendent

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