ANACORTES — The Anacortes School Board approved Thursday the school district’s 2018-2019 operating budget.
The district is expecting $39.2 million in revenue, with about $39.4 million in expenditures.
Still, the district will end the year with reserves of about $2.2 million, Business Director Dave Cram said at an early August budget hearing.
“We are finally getting close to a break-even point, which is good,” Cram said.
Much of the good news comes from an increase in state funding related to the “McCleary Fix,” which is the state Legislature’s response to a state Supreme Court ruling that the state was not adequately funding basic education.
As a result, this year the Legislature poured more money into school districts to increase staff salaries, namely for teachers.
In exchange for additional state money, the Legislature put a cap on how much the districts can collect from local taxpayers.
And while a contract between the Anacortes district and its teachers union is being negotiated, Anacortes, like many of its neighbors, worries that an increases in salaries will be sustainable because of the decrease in local levy dollars.
“The long-term costs are not sustainable with the new model,” Anacortes School District Superintendent Mark Wenzel said at the earlier meeting.
If nothing changes, Anacortes, like neighboring districts, will be facing a funding deficit in the next four years.
By school year 2020-2021, the district will have less than $1 million in its reserves, Cram said.
“That’s when things get difficult,” he said.
Though the 2018-19 budget was passed Thursday, the district will have to file for a budget extension based upon when it settles its contract negotiations with its unions.