Lower enrollment means less funding for district
October 2, 2008 · Updated 3:22 PM
SNOQUALMIE Administrators in the Snoqualmie Valley
School District are cringing at October's enrollment figures, which show there
are 43 fewer students in the schools than anticipated.
That might not seem like a large number, but if the enrollment
trends continue, by June the district will have 132 fewer students than budgeted
for. In monetary terms, that means the district could lose about $500,000 for
the school year, or about $3,700 per student.
"This year we were conservative in our estimates, but they just
didn't show up," said Rosemary Ziara, the district's business manager.
"Historically, growth in the district has been
a nice, steady 3-percent growth over the last few years. And the number
we projected was a 3-percent enrollment growth, and that didn't occur
The biggest deficit was at the kindergarten level where the district
anticipated 170 students, but only 138.5 attended classes this month.
One of the contributors to the shortfall could be the surprisingly
low number of children from Snoqualmie Ridge. The district, with help
from homeowners on the ridge, will do a survey of how many children
from newborns through five-year-olds live in the planned development. This
will help the district anticipate growth better, Ziara said.
"We only got 22 school-age kids from Snoqualmie Ridge. We
thought we would get 120," she commented. "There are rumors that the kids 0
to five-years-old will be coming soon."
But until then, the district needs to deal with the possible loss of
funding this year. To offset the shortfall, Ziara proposed a 10-percent cut
to most major areas of the district. The cuts, however, won't affect
staffing levels or school programs.
"All of the programs in the schools are basically protected," she said.
"I don't see any program cuts that would directly affect students in the
classroom. We're trying to avoid that."
"It would be cuts like, `Let's see if we can buy fewer paper towels to
be more conservative.' You try to cut corners and be more economical
and make better decisions, and that's what we're trying to do," Ziara added.
Some of the cuts are easy decisions, such as the $30,000 that
was budgeted but never used to hire a part-time staff member. But when the
business office and maintenance department are asked to eliminate
about $80,000 from each of their budgets, that becomes a much more
Board Director Rick Krona stated he is hesitant to cut funding from
areas such as maintenance and curriculum, and said he would be
interested in seeking alternative solutions to the budget problems.
"I agree [that cuts have to be made], but at this point it being
so early we'll need to see how things go," he said. "Maybe we can use
some of the reserves to fund [certain areas] as a last resort, but I'd be open to
looking at that."
Ziara cautioned, however, that the district's reserve funds are limited
and should generally be kept for emergency situations, such as if a
school burned down and the district needed to rent another location.
The next step for the district, Ziara added, is for all the administrators
to decide how and where they will be able to shave areas to comply
with their new budget.
"It'll be difficult. I don't think anyone can easily take a 10-percent
cut," said Ziara. "We're moving dollars from people's budgets so they'll
have a new target to hit. We'll help them monitor it so they'll know that
negative budget accounts won't be allowed."
The board is tentatively scheduled to discuss the budget issue again at
its next meeting, at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 at the district office.