School board OKs Murphy’s final budget

Federal Way Superintendent Tom Murphy has submitted his last school district budget.

The school board approved its 2010-11 budget June 22, keeping things running just about the same level as they did this school year. It was the final budget for the outgoing superintendent, who retires at the end of the month. The school district’s final budget plans on spending about $211 million.

The budget looks very similar to last school year’s, which has been the running theme during the last few budgets.

The district plans to continue moving forward with their Standards Based Education program, Academic Acceleration, Dual Language at Sunnycrest, Elementary AVID, Middle Years IB Program and the School-Based Family Liaisons, all of which were passed in the previous school year.

The district lost about $3.1 million in state funding. They also have to deal with increased health-care costs, as well as previously bargained contract obligations with the unions.

This year also sees the district getting an increase in their voter-approved levy, which will add $3 million to the district’s finances. They will also get an increase in the state’s Local Effort Assistance fund, which mitigates the effect that above average property tax rates might have on the ability of a school district to raise revenue. These funds serve to equalize the property tax rates that individual taxpayers would pay for such levies and to provide tax relief to taxpayers in high tax rate school districts.

Once all those numbers are crunched together, the district is planning on using $300,000 of their ending fund balance - their reserves - to pay for the next school year.

Most of the district’s budget, about 86 percent, is people-related expenses. The district is now officially the largest employer in the city, with over 2,200 employees.

In addition, Federal Way Public Schools spends more on teaching and teaching-related costs, than almost any other district.

Of the top-85 districts (those that have at least 3,000 students), Federal Way was second in 2008-2009, in spending percentage. They spend 75 percent of their budget in teaching and teaching-support costs. The state average is 69.9 percent. This year, the district spent 75.3 percent, and next year they are budgeted to spend 75.2 percent.

Other budget items passed:

• Associated Student Body Fund will draw on some of its balance this year. Districtwide the ASB will bring in $4.1 million and plans to spend $4.2 millon. However, they still have $487,000 left by the end of the year in the fund balance.

• The district will spend $73.9 million this year from its Capital Projects Fund. The money will go for all six projects that are currently underway, including school rebuilds.

• The district transportation fund has budgeted $980,000 for the next year. They only plan on spending $500,000 for seven new buses, however they also budget higher in case there is a great sale on buses, district officials said.

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