Declining enrollment means $1.8 million in NKSD cuts

The North Kitsap School District board approved its 2023-24 budget Aug. 24, indicating a continued decline in enrollment and staff, an issue many districts across the state are facing since coming out of the COVID pandemic.

Enrollment estimates are down 165 full-time equivalents from the 2022-23 budget and down 20 FTE from the 2022-23 actual enrollment, necessitating a reduction of approximately $1.8 million, school board documents state.

Impact Aid decreased $900,000 due to actual enrollment for apportionment. Also, all ESSER funds have been spent, an impact of $2.7 million down from last year. Those Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds were American Rescue Plan Act monies available after COVID.

Additionally, the district says inflation has impacted the budget, and contract negotiations with all seven union groups this summer “created complexity in analysis and budget work.” NKSD will continue to achieve the board policy established 5% to 7% minimum fund balance, per documents.

“In the reductions we had to make this year, we focused on areas that would have the least impact on student learning as possible,” NKSD representative Jenn Markaryan said.

The state-funded salary increase is 3.7% based on the implicit price deflator. Not all NKSD positions are funded by the state so the increase presents challenges in budgeting for any personnel whose salaries are paid in whole or in part by levy revenues, documents read.

Budget balancing methods consisted of:

• Combination of retirements, staff resignations and non-renewals of provisional teachers (3).

• Reduction of materials, supplies and operating costs from departmental and building budgets.

• Reduction of retirement rates by using state funds.

• Reduction of NK fund balance.

The basic education enrollment for 2023-24 is 5,269 compared to 5,294 in 2022-23. The total FTE’s for 2023-24 is 665.042 compared to 688.304 in 2022-23.

The appropriation for each fund is: general (about $106 million), capital projects ($23 million), ASB ($991,907) and debt service ($0).

Looking to the future, enrollment is projected to decline over the next four years, per documents. General fund revenue is projected to increase by about 3% annually while general fund expenditures will increase about 2.5% annually.

To keep expenditure increases to 2.5% annually there will need to be reductions, per documents. Beginning in 2024-25 revenues will exceed expenditures.

“We will be emphasizing that future expenditure reductions will be done with community and staff input,” Markaryan said.