School District expects another slight budget increase

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The Whitefish School District is expecting a slight 3% increase in its budget this year, the result of small legislative increases and larger student enrollment.

Lucie Shea, District Business Clerk, presented the 2019-2020 preliminary budget during the July 16 Whitefish School Board meeting.

The district’s total general fund budget for the upcoming school year is roughly $14.2 million, a $430,000 or 3.1% increase over last year’s budget. The general fund is the chief operating fund of the school district.

The previous year’s budget was calculated based an enrollment of 1,322 in the elementary district and 498 in the high school. This upcoming school year’s budget is based on enrollment numbers of 1,355 in the elementary and 539 in high school, Shea said.

The small legislative increase comes from House Bill 159, signed in February, that gives schools a 0.91% inflationary increase in funding.

Whitefish voters gave the district a boost with voter-approved levies in May, adding an elementary levy of $50,975 to support general operations and a pair of technology levies amounting to $321,600 in the elementary district and $158,400 in the high school district.

Shea said the levies go a long way in helping to balance the budget and provide support where needed.

“We were very fortunate that our voters voted in the $50,000 general operating levy and also the technology levy, and we also got the tuition permissive levy,” Shea said. “I mention those because those help greatly in transferring some of those expenditures from the already tight general fund budget. It was really important to get those levies, our voters were very generous.”

The total general fund budget for the elementary district in 2019-2020 is about $9.6 million, or $316,700 more than last year — a 3.5% increase.

Instruction expenditures get the highest boost, with a $413,000 increase over last year for a total instruction budget of $6.5 million. That makes up the largest chunk of the general fund expenditures at 67 percent.

Teacher salaries get a nearly 10% increase, or $480,000, bringing the total elementary district teacher salary budget to $5.3 million.

In the high school district, the 2019-2020 general fund budget amounts to $4.5 million, a $213,500 or 4.8% increase over the previous year.

Instruction makes up the largest chunk of the budget at 61% and increases by $222,600 — an 8.5% increase over last year. That puts the total at $2.8 million for instruction.

Teacher salaries also got a $200,000, or 9.7%, boost, bringing the total to $2.3 million and 65% of salaries in the high school district.

Certified staff district-wide also receive a salary increase of 3% as part of negotiations. That increase includes longevity stipends for the district’s veteran staff.

Classified staff negotiations lead to a $1 per hour raise.

The budget also includes contingency for a future Muldown teacher, and additional teachers in sixth grade (1 FTE), seventh/eighth grade and high school (1.5 FTE). An additional .2 FTE for a nurse is also included. An FTE, or full-time equivalent, is the hours worked by one employee on a full-time basis.

The board is set to vote on the final budget next month.

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