The Quillayute Valley School District Board of Directors have continuously kept their eyes on the district’s budget, especially through the lens of declining enrollment and loss of revenues as a result. Over the past decade, brick and mortar schools in Forks have held on to an average of 1,050 students, with the 2016-17 year enrollment ending at 1,037 students.
Over the course of this school year, Forks’ schools have lost an average of 40 students in grades K-12.
“This is the first time we have seen our numbers dip below 1,000,”QVSD Superintendent Diana Reaume said. “Our full-time equivalent (FTE) count at the end of April was 996 students. The loss of 40 students equates roughly to $400,000. We have never seen a steady pattern as such and are anticipating to lose approximately the same amount in 2018-19 for a total of 80-100 over the two-year span.
“It is an assumption that families are moving to find high-waged jobs. This decline in enrollment equates to approximately $800,000 to $1,000,000 in permanent lost revenue.”
The school district has looked into where students are going; almost half have moved out of state with others enrolling in a variety of school districts across the state with no real pattern.
As a result of the decline in enrollment, the QVSD’s Board of Directors passed a resolution that provides the superintendent direction to modify the educational programs by reducing staff. The plan is to reduce staff by not replacing staff members who are resigning.
This reduction will not come entirely from one group of employees, but rather across the board.
“Our intent is to keep every instructional program, extra-curricular program, and operational support system intact,” Reaume said. “We have made serious gains with quality teaching and learning.”
The board feels the district has made substantial improvement, especially with teacher and staff retention, Reaume said.
“It will be tricky, but I think we will figure out how to make it all work with little disruption to our programs,” she said.
One of the other indicators of a loss of revenue is the eroding of the district’s undesignated and unreserved funds (or “rainy day funds”) in the district’s general fund. It is the district’s obligation to maintain a 5 percent minimum undesignated and unreserved funds of the overall budget, as outlined in Board Policy 6041. (The state minimum requirement of undesignated and unreserved funds in the General Fund of schools according to the Washington Administrative Code is 4 percent.)
The superintendent reported that repair projects and the purchasing of technology were put on hold for the current school year to meet this minimum fund balance.
“We will be transitioning to a new funding system with the new legislation,” Reaume said.
Reaume said she will be providing the district’s board of directors, staff and public with more information about how that will affect the overall revenue picture soon as the district has finalized numbers.
“We are working on crunching the numbers,” she said. “Of course, there are still many moving variables with the biggest being the new teacher salary schedule which must be bargained. However, declining enrollment and the new funding formula are two separate issues that will affect our overall funding.”
Stay tuned for Part II: The McCleary decision and how it affects funding for the Forks’ schools.